Alone on Valentine’s?
Whatever you’re not doing on Valentine’s eve – it’s ok*. Contrary to what advertisers would have us imagine, most people will not be reclined in sexy togas, giggling and feeding sugar-coated grapes to our One True Love: our soulmate with whom we will live in happy contented monogamy for the rest of our lives.
Get real. We will be doing exactly what we do on all the other nights of the year: rocking colicky babies. Letting the dishes pile up. Sitting alone and lonely, checking what’s on TV. Worrying about how we’re going to pay the bills. Those who have partners are not more likely to be in love with them just because it’s Valentine’s night – they’re just as likely to be dissatisfied with them, or not be with them at all.
Life is not an advert, and thank God for that (we’d have whiplash from the L’Oreal hair-flicking and sweaty blisters from running through the fields hand-in-hand). Real life has everything in it. The humdrum, the loneliness, the worry and the love.
True love does exist. Our problem (other than that advertisers are manipulative and clueless) is that true love is beyond what we imagine, and what we think we want. There was a time when I got everything I thought I wanted: “my soulmate”, tall dark and handsome, as many “romantic” meals as I could eat, a beautiful diamond engagement ring. But I was unhappy. I challenge you to find anyone who got true lasting happiness from getting what they thought they wanted.
If you watch carefully, you may notice that your happiness does not ebb and flow in direct proportion to the people in your life. People sometimes influence how you feel, but they can’t manufacture happiness for you. And they don’t need to. It will come from you, when it comes.
You are what you do, not what you have. Today it so happens that I’m happy even if I’m going to be alone on Valentine’s. (Perhaps I’m happy because I’m alone on Valentine’s?) I’ll probably think about working out but instead make myself a nice meal, and go early to bed with a book. Maybe the happiness won’t last. That’s ok, too. It’ll come back when it’s ready.
I’m not being cynical. Relationships can be great. But so can solitude; and we have no control over either. And while you don’t get to choose between relationship and solitude, you do get to choose if you want to make the most of it.
Tonight – and on all the other nights, why not? – take a deep breath and try accepting what you have. Accept your take-away box, the dissatisfaction, the loneliness, aches and pains. The appliances which don’t work, the noise downstairs, the people who don’t make you happy, the deal you didn’t close and the things you don’t have.
Forget your ideals and comparisons to what you imagine all the rest of us are doing. Occasional, realistic plans are good; constant fantasies, on the other hand, lead to despair. Fantasy kills reality. In reality there is truth, and in truth there is hope.
Acceptance is a door into which peace comes when invited. Through that door there’s a field where possibilities can grow, that are beyond your imagination. So drop the fantasies and sit with an open heart, wherever you are.
This post is dedicated to everyone who is alone on Valentine’s.
* Unless it’s criminal, of course.
Anita Moorjani, Dying To Be Me. An ordinary woman in an ordinary life stumbles on the magnificence of existence.
Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light. A blind boy stumbles on the magnificence of existence and finds joy despite being a prisoner in concentration camps.
Victoria Coren, For Richer, For Poorer. Stunning and brilliant blonde doesn’t find love and has lots of fun playing poker, instead. True story.
Books and news websites, in general – the vast majority of people who are doing exciting, useful or fun things are not in perfect, contented relationships. Coincidence?