Whilst it may be Chaucer that popularised the notion of romantic love being celebrated today, it seems that social expectation has taken hold and placed us all at the behest and behemothic budgets of a massive industry.
Cards to buy, chocolates to order, flowers to be delivered, candlelit dinners to be enjoyed, discrete Ann Summers packages to be unwrapped in the bedroom.
It’s all very formulaic and about as far removed from romance as I can imagine.
Of course it’s easy to dismiss all of this. A roll of the eyes whilst you point out that you don’t need one day to prove your love, and the clarion call of ‘commercialisation’ is an easy one to fall back on but it is exactly this pre-packaged, mass market, off the shelf approach that irks. The lowest common denominator isn’t far away I fear; the Valentine box containing a card for ‘the one’, chocolates, a single red rose and a lurid red and lace lingerie set. It will be prominently placed in all the best supermarkets, indiscreetly labelled as “all your romance in one place”. How depressing.
It’s been many years in the making, the gentle conditioning that has ebbed into our lives unchallenged, tricking and treating its way into the common psyche.
But then what harm some flowers and a card? What harm of such a day that brings love into focus, that forces it to the forefront of our busy lives. It can’t be that bad, can it? In a world full of pain and anger, headlines thrust into our views to remind us the world is a bad place, an evil place. The world needs more love, everything in black and white.
And so it is that our integrity is diluted, the cliffs of my belief are slowly eroded until I look around and realise I do not recognise this land, where am I and how did I end up here? In my confusion I wonder what my beliefs are now, I question what I hold dear about the notions of love and romance, of that spark of connection with another human being and start to wonder if my approach has been so wrong all this time.
I find myself confused and conflicted. The sway of the masses is strong, my island of belief grows small but I will stay here until I too crumble and once more fall into the waters from which I dragged myself a few years ago. A sodden rag of bewilderment, I will stumble forth and buy on command.
I say this from a position of love. I am very lucky to be in a place in my life where such rambling proclamations can be made.
I will confess I bought and received cards but, more importantly, I spent time with my loved ones. It’s taken me a long time to realise the real value of love can’t be measured by one day.
There will be flowers, chocolates, romantic meals and discrete packages bought and received in the future but not by any other schedule than ours.