This Valentine's Day I am making a plan to think outside of romanticized and sensualized love, the love of diamonds, chocolate, champagne, whispers, and romantic dinners. Not that all of that stuff does not have a certain draw, because it does. Our world needs some extra love in it right now. Many of us are stressed out, filled with uncertainty in the midst of politicians and policies that do not seem to represent our realities. We are spread out and spread thin. We are rushing about and consuming but not necessarily considering and enjoying. We all need a love boost. We need a reminder that the world is full of good will and promise, laughter and choices. We need a day of communal love and mutual compassion, of being heard not judged. We have been wired or rewired to focus on our small groupings, select family, and friends to celebrate holidays or to look for support.
When we try to develop compassion in the realm of meditation it is suggested to begin by imagining someone we easily feel compassion towards, a close companion, a family member, a lover. Focusing so closely on these few makes it easier to begin cultivating a compassionate mindset. As we begin developing our capacity for compassion we begin to grow the circle wider as we envision acquaintances during our exercise. We progress to the advanced stage of visualizing people we barely know and even to people who we have difficult relationships with. They say if you want to lift a bull all you have to do is lift a calf everyday. Growing compassion is a process. We should embrace it and not expect ease or immediacy.
So in the spirit of developing compassion for those around us, lets share Valentine's Day with all those whom we come into contact with. Today let's share our love more broadly. Let our gaze be through compassionate eyes. Let our laughter shake loose and our charitable thoughts flow. Let's leave the notion of having only one Valentine with 2011 and make 2012 the year we make room for countless Valentines. Who knows as February 15th rolls around this year we may find some of those good feelings have stuck.
I leave you with the poem by Walt Whitman who so eloquently expresses our need for one another.
I Saw in Louisiana A Live-Oak Growing
I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,
Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,
But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there without its friend near, for I knew I could not,
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,
And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)
Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly love;
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near, I know very well I could not.