Whoops! I fell in Love!

December 18, 2007

While visiting my dear Aunt Frances in Hospice, I asked her,
"What's the secret to a successful marriage?"
"How should I know?" she replied, "I've only been married once."
"Exactly," I smiled, remembering her speak fondly of her 51 years with my uncle. You can't help who you fall in love with.
Personally, I never used to believe this adage. I thought it was nonsense. Of course I can control my emotions! Ha! I'm logical and immune from the iron clutches of infatuation. It's my choice, always, whom I care to love and whom to discard. In turn, as a teenager, when some poor young man professed his love to me, I thought to myself, "He should just get over it," not understanding (even to this day), the emotional, biological and chemical nuances of love's impact.

History, rife with Christian saints and mortal martyrs named Valentine, reveals the Catholic Church formally recognized eleven Valentine's Days up until 1969. Designated as the catch-all feast day, February 14th remains the official day for all things love-related. While recorded history fails to identify the "real" St. Valentine and the reason behind his association with romance and love, what he represents still affects our hearts and minds long after his earthly work stopped beating. Valentine's Day enjoys celebration from nearly every culture and continent on our planet, demonstrating that love knows no religious or societal boundaries. Love, honored and appreciated for its own sake, transcends time and limitation.

Commercialization or Romanticism?
Most men scoff at Valentine's Day traditions proclaiming the celebration akin to crass marketing and capitalistic attempts to profit from emotions. Using the dismissal of "it's a Hallmark holiday" as a defense, some people (women included) choose to remove themselves from the possible entanglements of the tentacles of love. While it's true that the church's feast of St. Valentine occurred on February 14th, and also that no discernable link between Valentine and love existed, the date reminds us that love is an eternal condition and not a temporary emotion. Nonetheless, the undeniable exhilaration of love flutters in almost every one of us at some point during our brief time on earth.

How did this happen?
One of life's truly splendid experiences, love's arrow reaches the hearts of even the most stoic among us. A life-long happy partnership with a mate remains one the few things in life money cannot buy. Differing accounts of the nature of their success range dramatically.
"We were best friends and finally got married."
This path to an enduring marriage traces the pragmatic evolution from best friends to spouses, with a friends-for-life attitude ensuring amiable relations. As friends who genuinely enjoy one another's company and as life mates, these folks weather the storms of life and enjoy the smooth sailing of companionship on their voyage.

"He grew on me, so I married him."
Long term familiarity seems to assure and reassure each spouse with compatibility and confidence that the choice in a partner is correct. This description of why the partner was selected often begins with, "I didn't really like him at first," followed by, "but then he just grew on me. What else could I do, but marry him?" Often the man adopts the tortoise approach and knows that 'slow and steady wins the race' and his gentle persistence and faith in the relationship eventually convinces her he's the right man for her.

"I knew the minute I saw her, I was going to marry her."
Described to me as the case by more men than women, this phenomenon of instant recognition and absolute knowing offers the most romantic insight into mysterious love. The triggers to love's certainty almost never quantified, an immediate understanding of genuine love directs to one, if not both of the partners accepting, without a doubt, that they'd spend the rest of their lives with the newly met stranger. All the circumstances leading up to the minister then are academic - societal formalities and time constraints which must be endured. All the while, the end result popped up like a cartoon light bulb over the heads of the lovers, and with it, love was already defined.
We're here to experience love.
Any attempts to describe love and the affects it bestows on our hearts and lives, surpass the breadth of language. We understand romantic love, familial love, friendship love and even object love. We look in the face of our beloved and never notice the wrinkles or the crooked smile, we only see the beaming soul beneath. At some level of understanding, the attraction we feel transcends physical attributes and rests comfortably in the recognition that who we truly adore resides in the soul, not the vehicle (the human body).

Yet, the vehicle is all we have to express our love for one another. If I'm not in earthly form, can I experience love? Are not emotions fundamental to our time on earth? The only way, I as a human, can reach your soul, is through your humanity, too. Our bodies, these lovely perfect capsules which carry around the precious cargo of our divine selves, allow us to enjoy all levels of love while we walk the planet. But what about when our bodies wear out and die? Where does love go?

If we consider love as an energy form, then according to the Law of Conservation of Energy in physics, love's energy is neither created nor destroyed. Is love a puddle of invisible energy waiting for the surface to be pierced by an unsuspecting human falling into it or do we carry love with us, awaiting ignition by the attraction to and of another? These mysteries of the initiation of our most precious and inimitable emotion, pique our interest and perpetuate our desire.

Love, with all its ups and downs, strength and frailties, definitions and ambiguities, provides us with a reason to celebrate one another. Just as love can be expressed with a dozen roses, a box of chocolates or a loving glance, love's feast day cannot be limited to one date on the calendar. You are loved - every day of the year!

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