7 reasons to feel the love on Valentine’s Day
Love is in the air…
Well… for some, perhaps – certainly there’s some love from the retail sector, as cash registers go ker-ching across the western world. This is because we’re all rushing out to buy the perfect (i.e. not too gushing/rude/cutesy) Valentine card, frantically trying to book a half-decent restaurant (because, quite frankly, you’ve left it too late), or choosing the least-cheap-looking bunch of flowers we can afford (seriously, how much can a dozen red roses be worth?).
But love comes in many forms, and today I’m hijacking this significant moment in the commercial calendar with a few variations on a theme.
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1. Romantic Love
Let’s start with the obvious, then. This is what all the focus is on for the next few days and there’s no getting away from it. But why should we? It’s a wonderful thing, and just because I’m currently single it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it. Does it make the world go around, though? No, of course not, not literally – it’s a different force of nature that does that! But wherever I go around the world, I usually end up in the midst of a bubble of love, be it partners strolling hand-in-hand, or a full-on wedding procession, and I never tire of it.
2. Familial Love
As the saying goes ‘can’t live with them, can’t live without them’. For most of us, our families, quirks and all, form the core of our range of relationships.
In some countries more than others, the wisdom of age is respected and children are to be both seen and heard. In Spain, for example, multi-generation social gatherings are the norm, and you’ll see large branches of the existing family tree dining out together – it’s one of my favourite aspects of Spanish culture.
As much as I look forward to each trip away, I still feel the wrench of being far from my nearest and dearest. Valentine’s Day is a time to not only reiterate our appreciation for our relatives, but to sympathise with those who are missing loved ones, or who have never known the safe haven of a loving family.
3. Worldly wonders
If there’s one thing we should love and cherish more than we do, it’s the world around us. I’ve seen some incredible landscapes on my travels, many of them part of fragile and/or unique ecosystems and it’s heart-breaking to know how much damage we’re doing as a species.
It’s easy to share harrowing images on social media, but it’s action that’s needed. The liquid shower crème I’m half-way through will be the last one I buy – it’s back to soap for me from now on, but it’s just one small step, I know. My love for space exploration has long seen me dreaming of distant worlds, but until we’ve fully learned to look after our own, we don’t deserve to visit another.
4. Our fellow creatures
The biodiversity of life on Earth is its greatest treasure and the wellbeing of our fellow inhabitants one of our biggest responsibilities. Following on from the point above, it stands to reason that we minimise any negative impact on other sentient creatures, both wild and domesticated. Light pollution is a particular concern of mine, as it adversely affects the biorhythms of nocturnal animals. Who can fail to have been moved by the plight of those baby turtles on the BBC’s Blue Planet II documentary, mistaking the bright lights of the city for the guiding beams of the moon and heading for almost certain doom? Don’t reserve the romantic candlelit ambience for just this one night, go easy on the lighting through the year – it’ll help your human circadian rhythm too.
5. Me, myself and I
I’m one of those who puts others before themselves and while there’s a joy in giving, you’re no good to anyone if you burn out into a frazzled crisp of your usual self. Clichéd, yes, but it needs saying just as much today, as we strive to live up to our perfectly-curated social media lifestyles.
If you’re happily single, no strike that – regardless of whether you’re single or not, treat yourself a little this Valentine’s and make time just for you, if you possibly can. I’m quite happy in my own company (within reason!) anyway, but on each February 14th, I have the perfect excuse for self-indulgence. My musical idol Tim Buckley was born on this day in 1947, and every year I raise a glass of fine port to his memory and lose myself in his music.
6. Love for what you do
We work, we spend, we work some more, we spend some more, striving for career progression, material success or peer approval. How much of what we spend our time on do we really love doing? I got tired of that treadmill a couple of years ago, so I mixed it up a bit, went part-time and started blogging. It hasn’t yet panned out how I’d like, but I have no regrets whatsoever – I love what I do.
If you can say the same, then you are equally fortunate. If not, take a moment on Valentine’s Day to think about what you love or enjoy the most. Keep doing that until maybe, just maybe, you find a way to make it happen.
7. That extra something
Call it motivation, call it faith or call it your raison d’être, most of us possess it in one form or another – that often-indefinable sense of something beyond yourself. It has different names, depending on your point of view. For some, it’s a god, or guardian angel or simply a ‘greater power’. For others it’s the power of reason, logic and the scientific method, or the forces of Mother Nature. What do you call it?
It’s the study of the cosmos that does it for me, and the beauty is I can enjoy it wherever I travel. Every time I look up at a clear night sky I get swept up in a swirl of wonder and I savour that giddy feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s very addictive.
Which, when you think about it, is a bit like love itself.
Read more: Top 10 reasons to take a stargazing holiday