For many years, I’ve been a huge cynic when it comes to Valentines Day.
It didn’t matter if I had a significant other or not (although the cynicism would grow in relation to my relational unhappiness). My argument was built around commercialization and consumerism and superficiality and how we shouldn’t need a designated day of year to remind us to demonstrate love to those we truly care about.
True love and care was demonstrated in spontaneous and authentic ways all year long.
I had my whole rant.
Then, a few years back, just before I got married, I was sharing with a friend my theory about Valentines Day. It started with the price of roses and morphed into a bit about Hallmark, and I was just getting ready to launch into my spiel about Target when she stopped me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit disappointed.
(After all, I was just getting revved up).
But in the most beautifully blunt way possible—a way of relating that, with her smallness of stature and brightness of personality, she was so gracefully able to manage—she said:
“Look, the way I see it is—you have two choices when it comes to Valentines Day.”
“You can either be cranky and miserable about it, or you can enjoy it for what it is. And, if you choose to be cranky and miserable, I’m not going to feel sorry for you, and I’m not going to hang around while you feel sorry for yourself.”
The words look harsh when I type them here in black and white, but honestly, they didn’t sound quite so harsh coming out of her mouth. Like I said, she has this way about her. And I suppose the other reason her words didn’t sound too harsh to me is because I knew she was right.
Her words weren’t just true about Valentines Day. They were true about every day.
They weren’t meant to hurt me. They were meant to help.
That moment was a huge wake-up call for me.
It was so simple, honestly. But at the same time, it was totally profound. What she was saying wasn’t just a lesson about Valentines Day. It was a lesson about every day—and what happens to those numbered and precious days we’re given when we choose to complain about them and feel sorry for ourselves.
We waste them away. We waste away ourselves.
We’re left behind and left out.
Of course there are a thousand things to complain about when it came to Valentines Day. There are a thousand things to complain about any day. I can complain that I didn’t have a significant other. I can complain that I do (and he isn’t doing what I want). I can complain about the system or the expectations or “the way things work.”
But while I am busy complaining, everyone else will be enjoying themselves.
Everyone else will be moving forward, moving on with their lives.
And slowly my life will pass and I’ll never get what I really want. I won’t ever know what I really want. I won’t invest in anything that lasts or matters. I’ll be too tired from all of my complaining.
I’ll be too lonely (because who wants to hang out with someone who can’t stop feeling sorry for themselves?)
So when it comes to this Valentines Day—and every day that follows—the way I see it is this: You and I have two choices. We can either be cranky and miserable, or we can make the most out of it—put our hands to the plow and create what we really want.
If you choose cranky and miserable, that’s your choice.
I think you’ll regret it. I think you’ll get bored, and tired, watching your life pass…