Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

On Being Loved

If you have as many true friends as you can count on one hand, that’s a lot.

I can’t remember where I first heard it, but it’s stayed with me for years. It has held me up when I’ve been alone, afraid, and unconvinced that there was such a thing as feeling better. It’s what keeps me holding my friends close and trying to be to others who they are to me.

Since friends are special and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I wanted to say a few things about friends, about the people who have come to be my people. February 14 is the day we’re supposed to remind our people that we love them, though I try not to let mine forget.

True friends are the people who have stopped what they were doing to be happy or sad with me, who tell me when I’m wrong and cheerfully admit when I’m right, who have welcomed me into their arms and homes and lives all over the world, who have seen me grow, who want for me what I want and don’t mind how often that changes. These are the people who I turn to at any time for any reason because they’re always glad to have me. These are the people who I can (and have) called at odd hours with laughter and with tears. These are the people who witness my life the way that I witness theirs.

Like any relationship, that with friends ebbs and flows. The people who immediately come to mind when I think of counting on one hand (which, admittedly, is a very rare occurrence) have remained largely static for some time, but I always find it interesting to observe how, why, and when that changes. Life changes. People change.

But what doesn’t change is the warmth and love that all of these people make me feel. Being reminded, flooded, with all of that love augments my desire to bring warmth and love to everyone else. I’ve found loving-kindness meditation to be particularly helpful in guiding me to let go of frustrations, irritations, and anger that get in the way of the compassion and caring that I prefer to feel. It’s also a good reminder of everyone who loves me – and I admit that sometimes I do need a reminder.

Valentine’s Day can be difficult for people who don’t feel like they have people. The circle of people in loving-kindness meditation ultimately extends to all humanity, so I can assure you that you’ve got me.

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Made by Hmong women in Sapa, Vietnam

To all of my people, thank you for everything. Love you now, love you always.

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Yes, 278. That’s the year St. Valentine was beheaded; he was Christian and Christianity wasn’t legal until Constantine signed the Edict of Milan in 313. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, St. Valentine performed Christian marriage ceremonies and was imprisoned . . . and then Hallmark turned Valentine’s Day into a holiday.

Even before I had a Valentine, I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. When I lived at home, my mum would prepare these Valentine’s Day goody bags for us and leave them about places a the kitchen table. We used to take the candy to school for days. It made Valentine’s Day a day about saying “I love you” to anyone and everyone, which was a very important lesson.

At work today, many of my students complained about feeling lonely and unloved. I asked, “You love people, don’t you? And they love you, right?” For the most part, they smiled.

And that’s what’s important. Valentine’s Day isn’t about chocolate or flowers, though those are nice. It’s about family and friends and reminding those around us that they are loved.

Admittedly, I do have a Valentine. He left me a beautiful surprise on my porch this morning, and I’d like to share it with you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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