True Love

Valentine’s Day is a meaningless, silly holiday, even more so than Halloween, and it’s certainly not worth devoting an entire issue of a newspaper to it, but you will notice that this has not stopped us.

The only thing that would help Valentine’s Day be less meaningless and silly would be if it had to do with some important and powerful human emotion, like, I don’t know, love or something. But instead, it’s all about infatuation and lust and candy and flowers, and it’s odd and crazy, and the only reason we still celebrate it is that no guy wants to be the first one to actively object to it, for fear of getting whacked in the head by his girlfriend. So we keep going, taking part in a tradition with no meaning, and going through rituals for a person who, six months from now, may have filed a restraining order against us.

Love, though. THAT would be a great thing to pay tribute to with its own special holiday. Everyone needs food, water, shelter and love — love is the only non-tangible item on the list. Even people who seem not to need love — mean people, for example, and Al Gore — even these people, deep down, need love.

And I’m not just talking about romantic love. We all need the other kind of love, too, the kind friends and families have for each other.

Why is love so important? Because if you’re loved, that means you’re accepted. It means whoever it is that loves you, they don’t judge you unfairly, and they understand you, and they can relate to where you’re coming from. It means while they want the best for you, they’re not going to force you to change into how they want you to be. It means you already ARE the way they want you to be.

Being loved means there’s a person to whom you are important. It means someone thinks about you when you’re not together, and they try to find ways to ensure your happiness when you are. It means if you were in trouble or distress, the person who loves you would try to help you out — or, at the very least, stay with you until help arrived.

But being loved is not the best thing about love. No, the best thing is loving someone else. When we love someone — really, truly love them, not the juvenile stuff we tend to get involved in — we are content to do everything in the world for them, just because it makes them happy. Getting anything in return is irrelevant. It’s not a factor. We do it because seeing them happy makes us happy, and for no other reason. When we love someone, we will sometimes go to extreme lengths just to be with them. Even if they don’t love us — yet — we still like to be around them, emitting love rays that will hopefully affect them and make them reciprocate.

Love feeds on itself. When someone loves us, it makes us love not only them, but other people too. We go around spreading love, because we know from personal experience how great love feels.

No matter how many times a relationship turns sour, most of us will never entirely give up on finding love. Because ultimately, we have faith that when we finally do find it, it will be so wonderful that all the garbage we had to sort through will seem worthwhile.

Now that I think of it, maybe a holiday devoted to the celebration of love wouldn’t work. By its very nature, true love is an ongoing process, a way of life, not something you can squeeze down into one day. If you can celebrate it in one day, it’s probably not love.

No, the only way it would work is if we had a whole season devoted to love. If we had not just a day, but several weeks where we were supposed to show love for others. If we could let this true love — this selfless, honorable, deep, charitable love — manifest itself in all our actions for an entire “Love Season,” THEN we’d have ourselves a holiday that would really mean something.

But wait. We already have that holiday.

It’s called Christmas.

Never mind about Cupid. The REAL god of love is another God altogether.

Let’s not forget what real love is, and who taught us about it.

Kimber Kay, with whom I did several movie reviews during the Summer of 1997, became the Special Sections Editor in January 1998. As such, she began insisting that I write columns for the various special sections. (These special sections, by the way, are occasional tabloid-size inserts that go with the paper that advertisers love and readers hate. They're full of fluff-oriented stories on whatever the theme of the issue is.)

Naturally, I resisted, especially when she wanted me to write one for Valentine's Day. See, I had decided not long before that I was going to quit writing about male/female relationships for a while, because I was doing it way too much. I didn't want to become a one-trick pony. And of course I couldn't think of anything else to say about Valentine's Day, other than the obvious "love stinks, so I'm bitter" stuff.

Kimber was forcing me, though, so I finally wrote this article. Ultimately, it's not exactly a humor column, though there are some funny parts. I was just sort of free-writing, talking about whatever came to mind, when I noticed the stark similarities between the love of Jesus Christ and all the kinds of love we have (romantic, familial, brotherly, etc.). I decided to tie them all together. I apologize for this not being as snide and irresponsible as my columns usually are, but I think I'm allowed a serious moment every now and then, aren't I?