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Valentine's Day Editorial

In February of 2005, Brian found the following editorial on the University of Alaska/Fairbanks website:

I really don't know love at all

by Robinson Duffy

I thought I hated Valentine's Day.

The crass commercialism still makes me retch, and I simply do not understand why stores feel compelled to put up their Valentine's displays in December, but the actual day itself, I've discovered, isn't on "the list."

Did Hallmark get to me? Are they now, at this very moment, holding a pink, beflowered gun to my head? No, the patent holder of pre-packaged love had nothing to do with my change of heart; it is all Joni Mitchell's fault.

Relatively early in her career, Mitchell proclaimed to the world that she didn't really understand love all that much. "It's love's illusions that I recall," she admitted, "I really don't know love at all."

Mitchell was accosted for having the audacity at such an early age to claim that she had "looked at love from both sides."

The criticism was silly, petty. Love is one of the most fundamental and yet complex emotions humans have to deal with. The sooner we find the courage to admit that we really don't understand love, the better.

Complacency is the killer of relationships, especially those involving some form of love. We cannot slip into the rut of assuming we know everything there is to know about the love in our life. Constant evaluation of our relationships is crucial to the health of those relationships. We have to be willing, even at an early age as Mitchell did, to look at love from both sides. We need to understand the people we love, why we love them, and make sure that we don't lose the love.

And love does not get any easier the older you get.

In 2000 Mitchell recorded her song a second time. Now in her 50's, Mitchell reexplored the words of her childhood. The song had a deeper poignancy, perhaps, sung by a woman wearied by the years, but again the theme was the same: even now she doesn't understand love.

As we get older and change, our relationships change. And, again, they require constant evaluation. Love is made up of many facets: sexual passion, deep respect, admiration, trust, affection, devotion, tenderness. Without all these attributes no love is complete. But how much power any one of these holds in a particular relationship can change. If the relationship is truly worth it, we need to be willing to roll with those punches?admit, understand, and adapt to those changes.

That's where Valentine's Day comes in. Any day that makes us stop and think about love is a glorious thing. In a perfect world we wouldn't need Valentine's Day to remind us to evaluate our relationships, but this simply isn't a perfect world. We so often get caught up with the frantic mad-dash of life that we need days put aside to perform preventative maintenance on our many relationships.

So this Valentine's Day, fine, ignore the commercialism if you wish, boycott the candy stores and burn a Hallmark card or two. But take a moment -- a long moment -- to dissect your relationships with your girlfriend, your mother, your best friend, your husband, your wife, anyone you love. Make sure the love is still strong, that you understand what it means to love and be loved.

If we don't, all we'll have are love's illusions; we really won't know love at all.

(Contributed by Brian Gross)

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