Happy Valentines Day! For a surprising history of this day of love click here. But what do we moderns do with a day like this? I guess it’s easy to get cynical about the $18.5 billion that the economic engines will grind out of us on this holiday, but as every artist knows, there is an opportunity to create art everywhere, even in the shadow of the commercial behemoth that is Valentines Day. Those of us in relationships can use this as a day perfectly designed to focus ourselves and clarify our intentions. What are we doing here? What does our love mean to us? How do we celebrate it, today and every day? How would our partner look in that particular piece of underwear?
Love is both a noun and a verb. The noun, the feeling of love, is something over which we have little control, although it often responds to, and reflects, the actions of love. Love, the verb, is a challenging complex of actions. The way we choose our loving actions is probably the central focus of Relationship Art. As partners, we behave lovingly, or we do not. We make choices in our lives to act with love and respect, or we do not. We are pro-active in behaving lovingly, committed to the processes that enhance our relationship, or we react to some real or imagined hurt, and respond with vindictiveness, manipulation, bitterness, rejection, contempt, hurtful words (or worse), dismissive avoidance or withdrawal. We let our exhaustion, or hunger, or horniness, or anger, or disappointment, or hurt, or self-doubt dominate us and impel us to act unlovingly. I guess we need to accept that the personal demons we fight everyday in order to be the partners and lovers we want to be are native inhabitants of our emotional landscape. Although we can and do judge ourselves for these primitive impulses, we will likely generate them forever like bubbles rising from a boiling pot. We can only keep working at creating the Relationship Art that will turn those bubbles into warmth and contribute to an atmosphere that nurtures us until the liquid inevitably boils away. Since Valentines Day is here, let’s use it, as we might use every other day: as an opportunity to sharpen our intention to act with love.