Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine for 2010

Who is this Cupid fellow and what about Valentine’s Day?

Cupid (Latin cupido, meaning desire) comes to us via both Greek and Roman mythologies. The Greeks called him Eros. Also known as Amor, he is the god of erotic love and beauty. We equate Cupid with love – not so as erotic love and desire, sprinkled with lust and a pinch of heat – is an altogether different beast. And beast may be closer to the mark than we like to think.

Cupid is often depicted with wings, a bow, and a quiver of arrows. In popular culture Cupid shoots arrows to inspire romantic love. He IS the icon of Valentine’s Day, the personification of love and courtship.

In the myth, Cupid falls in love with Psyche (meaning soul), they produce a daughter Voluptas or Hedone (meaning pleasure). In the sound-bite version: Erotic Desire falls for Soul and their voluptuous love child Hedone, is charged with seeking a life of hedonistic pleasure. Sound like a chapter from the Seven Deadly Sins?

In thinking of Valentine’s Day as more than just another commercial venture in which Americans are urged to spend; think not? Consider our monthly expenditures around: Christmas, New Years, Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But I digress – as I am wont to do.

In thinking of Valentine’s Day beyond commercialism and consumerism, beyond erotic love and lust, I began to ponder gifts of love beyond flowers and candy. My thoughts wandered to a recent conversation and upset.

“Well, I think you just gave them a pass,” he said, arms crossed.

“I did,” I agreed.

“What’s the point in that?” he asked, “They’ll just do it again. See in my business and my life, I’d never have anything to do with them again.” He pushed his palm toward me, pushing them out and away, ignored and expunged.

“And that’s what we do; don’t we?” I completely understood. Far easier for me to dust these women from the periphery of my life than to call and apologize for a communication that left them defensive and angry.

“The point is,” I paused to gather my thoughts, “So here is the other part of giving the gals a pass. When I say everything there is to say, I am clear. When I can hear whatever they have to say and leave them feeling heard, they can be clear. We have mucked our stall. No shit. And – it allows us all to invent ourselves newly once again.”

This was a recap though months had passed since we’d last had such a conversation. Terry’s brows knitted in concentration, he garnered every word for mastication and digestion.

“When we don’t muck the stall, we stand in shit… it hardens… and locks us into a particular stance. This is poison for all relationships,” I karate chopped the air between us.

“Have you ever heard the phrase, I promise to never know you?” Terry’s head shook no. “It is a convoluted promise that allows you to occur newly, every time.” I stopped to measure my next words for impact and exposure. “I would always be inclined to make that promise to you and for you. Less inclined for them. BUT – if I could be that for them? You’re a shoe-in!”

“I can see that,” he stroked his chin as a small smile crept across his face.

“How great are the lives of the people in my life when I can be THAT for people I barely know and maybe don’t care to? Life inside my circle would be fabulous! And when their lives are fabulous; guess how great mine is? Does this make sense?” Terry nodded. “It’s just all part of my game called: For you? Anything!”

“I remember that game,” Terry broke into a big smile, “That’s a great game.”

“It is,” I agreed.

A week later, scouring my journals, I stumbled across this and sent it:

10.9.08 I promise to never know you...

I promise to shuck your history with me,

Your thorny crown of crimes and offenses,

Those broken agreements and heartstrings I bear like a cross.

I promise to let you begin today with a clean slate, a clean plate,

From this day forward, ‘til death do us part.

I promise to recreate this promise daily.

The warden’s keys… resurrection and life anew

In a single act of pure generosity and love.

Days later Terry sent a note: Thanks for sharing this with me. Ever since you talked about the “promise” it has really stuck with me. There is a lot of power and possibility of living into never knowing.

Indeed. I promise to never know you does not equate to avoiding difficult conversations. I promise to never know you does not denote life as a doormat. I promise to never know you does not dictate a life of stuffing emotions and communications. I promise to never know you IS a practice of forgiveness and dealing with e-v-e-r-y-thing that stands as a barrier. When we break through the barriers, love and affinity emerge and… the people we love are left with the experience of being loved.

More than flowers and candy, leaving our loved ones with the daily experience of being loved would alter the world. To have love and affinity present, not just on Valentine’s Day, but as an expression of who we are everyday, to have the people we love left with the experience of being loved is a tall order – one undoubtedly requiring an act of God – Cupid or otherwise.

“Sometimes,” Paul said, “I think you live in a fairy tale, like Alice in Wonderland.”

“Well I have to live somewhere,” I defended, “Wonderland is as good a place as any and a lot better than most.”

Love on! Play on!

From this day forward, ‘til death do us part…


  1. Good 'un, L! EVERYONE wants to be forgiven and given a clean start, but fewer want to shovel the shit! Mea culpa! Ya gotta admit: cards, candy and flowers are easier!

  2. And oh, so temporary. Git yer shovel buddy!