By Moign Khawaja
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you all know what the day is about and what it entails if you celebrate this day or choose not to. People do or do not observe it for various reasons which can be debated in a series of articles but I’m going to strongly resist initiating that debate here and just focus on a relationship between a man and a woman and see it under the light of Valentine’s Day.
Before I get started, I’ve got a confession to make which some readers might find interesting. I do not have any memory of celebrating Valentine’s Day, good or bad, and never felt like doing it. I think I once gave a few presents to my ex-girlfriend but that was a one-off thing. In other words, Valentine’s Day has been just another day in my life since I turned into an adult. I cannot help but believe it is just one of those ‘created’ days where you’ve to perform some rituals to prove you stand for something. If you do not confirm to it or fail to do so, you might be branded as either, a nutcase with complete disrespect for the institution of love, or, a fanatic who is hell bent on looking down at couples who profess love and are involved in activities that are least bothering the others.
But I believe I do not belong to any of the kind of people described above…
Love is invaluable and I believe people really lack the art of loving. If someone personally asks me about Lover’s Day, I’d say it should be observed every single week. We must encourage people to love each other. Couples should take out time for each other, put on makeup, dress nicely, hold hands and go out together for a meal, sit for a candle-lit dinner, switch off/turn silent their mobile phones, have a light-hearted chat, laugh out loud, compliment each other in detail, present inexpensive gifts, listen to each other attentively while their partner is doing the talk, smile without any reason – all in all – be genuinely happy as if this is the first ever true moment with their partner.
On your way back home you’ll notice that there is some spark in the air. If you happen to go on 14th of February, it is not at all because of Valentine’s Day. It is because of the efforts you made – from making your mood, to dressing up for the occasion, to making physical contact, to giving your partner the chance to say whatever is in his/her mind while you concentrate on his/her positives. This is an exercise. Perhaps a break from the routine where you’re more concerned about things your partner lacks rather than what he/she possesses. So yes! You’ve achieved something in a few hours what you’ve been yearning for months or perhaps years. Commendable indeed!
But what next? Don’t you think you deserve to lead a happy life where you’re treated like a special person? I think you do. Not because I’m adamant about it but because you made an effort on the special day by treating your loved one differently. I believe that happiness is something like the oxygen of your soul which is vital in order to survive and progress. Have you ever imagined how incredible it is that happiness has such an impact on our lives yet we do so little to achieve it? I think we greatly discount happiness and take it for granted?
Everyone knows how divorce rates are climbing these days. Everyone is concerned about the dropping rate in marriages and how long young people are waiting before they actually get married. University education, secure job, steady source of income, personal house, decent car, considerable amount of money stuffed in bank and the contemporary check list for ‘ideal partner’ is still incomplete?So all we care nowadays is working to acquire all the items on this list – not very different from ants that build their colony – meticulously seeking to build our lives for a better tomorrow. But hey! what about today? Did you take some time out to laugh at a silly joke or ponder over something wise and deep or look after yourself in the mirror and notice your exhausted body and soul is craving some attention?
Why not? Come on! After all, you’ve entered this rat race to ‘build’ a comfortable life for yourself and your loved ones so who else deserves attention and care more than yourself? Think for a second and imagine what are you getting into? Neglecting your basic need of ‘happiness’ so much that your loved one will always find it hard to digest the notion of being loved by you when you can barely look after yourself. I think there are better ways of loving and you need to learn them?
So before we go any further, let’s just have a quick recap of what we have rediscovered so far. First, in order to love someone, you’ve to love yourself. Second, make an effort to love instead of expecting the other person to do something to love you. Third, expect less from everyone but demand more from yourself.
It is unfortunate in today’s world that money making schemes are easily trusted than feeling for love and affection. It is easy to incite people to defend their country, religion, culture but really hard to make them love another human being and show their kindness and affection towards them. To hate and fight someone, we seldom demand reasons but to love someone we’ve a long, challenging checklist that needs to be fulfilled. The world is degenerating – not because we’ve developed weapons of mass destruction or global warming is getting out of hand – but we, as human beings, are not loving ourselves for what we basically are, simple, weak and dependable. We don’t love ourselves for what we are at the moment but what we would like to be or what we have become.
For example, a capitalist is in love with himself/herself because he/she has acquired all the wealth that separates him/her from the rest of the society. Strip him/her of the status acquired and then check if the love for himself/herself is still there or gone with the wealth and power?
A young university student might be in love with himself/herself because somewhere in the back of his/her mind he/she knows that he/she wants to become a successful person by getting plenty of money through ‘hard work’ and ‘manoeuvring’. Try convincing that person for a while that there are no chances of you becoming successful tomorrow and you’ll see that he/she is already giving up without a fight. The love is lost even before it got accumulated?
So, in short, we love the illusion we’ve created for ourselves in our little minds. Not for what we practically are at the moment and the talent nature has gifted us with. The same mistake is applied on our loved ones. When in a relationship, we’ve plenty of expectations from our partner who has to be good looking, intelligent, wealthy, stylish, sexy and accommodating to your desires, of course. Anything short of your expectations and your limited patience will drive you to another ‘potential partner’?the search will go on?and on?
However, if we fall in love with ourselves for what we are and choose to be the change we want to see in others, it would be a completely different world. We’ll be more patient and forgiving with our partner when he/she will commit a mistake because we’ll be aware of our shortcomings and knowing all too well that next mistake could be committed by ourselves. We’ll be loving the littlest things that define our personality and make us a different person. The same qualities in our partner would be cherished so easily and readily. So loving won’t be just loving another person but a shadow of your qualities and characteristics in your lover?
So, before you look into what you gained or lost on Valentine’s Day and make resolutions for next year, it is really better that you look into ways to find out the person you really are and love yourself truly, madly, deeply. For if you’re not able to love yourself the way you truly deserve, no one can expect you to love any other person, let alone your life partner and the love of your life…