Alain De Botton, bitterness, celebrate, celebrate the small joys, cynic, deserving, divisive, extremes, hopeless romantic, illusions, lack of trust, love, meaningful, reality, relationships, romantic love, romantic realism, self acceptance, self-loathing, the mundane, valentine's day
Some days in the year I thoroughly enjoy – like today, Valentine’s day. Not for the reasons you’d consider though.
Like pretty much everything else in the world of today, this is yet another of life’s aspects that people choose to be divisive over instead of accepting and kind. As if on cue, the two (or is it more this year?) sides are set up. Drum roll. Let the show begin!
The romantics. Ever since reading Alain De Botton’s work, I’ve decided against being
continuing to be a romantic by definition. De Botton surfaces truths about how the current romantic idea of love came to be and how it has in fact led to unhappiness rather than the never-ending bliss it promises. In one of the author’s interviews, with Paul Holdengraber, here referenced in a Literary Hub post:
On the false promise of Romantic love, he says: “Love as we’ve come to know it, from its 18th- and 19th-century heritage, is as a kind of leisured activity that takes place on summer evenings where people are able to go for long walks, admire the sea, the cliffs, the underside of the clouds… But we have a hard time marrying that up with what we sometimes call, in a bad mood, “reality.” Many relationships founder on the contrast.” And then to complete the circle, on the deceiving concept of the one and only soulmate: “The notion that someone can understand you without you having taught them who you are is… catastrophic.”
These are the single-minded romantics who ‘fight’ for their right to celebrate Valentine’s day with pomp. The ones who insist they need to make the grand gesture, even if sometimes a smaller, simpler gesture might be more impactful and more appreciated by the person you’re supposed to be putting in the effort for. Let the hearts and sparkles flow! And for the rest of the population, good luck with going out to dinner tonight if you don’t have a reservation!
Then there are the cynics, the battered souls who’ve reached a level of bitterness and whose trust in others is so raggedy, it means not only can’t they enjoy this particular day, they probably can’t give into the joy of any celebration. The hate abounds, the reasons for the reactions more obvious than the authors of the criticism would care to admit.
Not to say these are the only two attitudes towards this particularly love-infused holiday (whether authentic or lackluster), but the extremes are always something to behold.
In my eyes, this day is just like any other. The good things in life deserve to be celebrated whether big or small, no matter if the day is Monday or on a weekend, Christmas or Summer Solstice. To celebrate even a small moment of joy means to commit it to memory for the dreary hours that are sure to come sooner or later. You see, the human brain is programmed in an evolutionary sense to better recall the negatives and to gloss over the positives. That’s how so many of us end up discarding the idea that life is meant to be in any way happy or worse even, that they themselves deserve any form of happiness or peace of mind.
The very thought breaks my heart, so on this day I have one wish for everyone: celebrate the joyful moments, the quietly serene ones and the high-octane, brightly shining ones alike; not just today, but every time they are offered to you. Celebrate a person or a relationship not because some made up social convention says you should, but because they deserve it (and so do you).