The Tragedy of St. Valentine's Day

Sadly, noone ever wrote me with any nice things they had done. Low readership or low motivation to be nice? You tell me. Anyway, here's the essay, untouched.

February 13, 1998

I used to hate Valentine's Day. I never had a good one. It was just another day to me. Or rather, I wanted it to be just another day. It never was, which frustrated me. So did the entire day itself. I felt left out every year. I wanted so desperately to pretend this exclusion didn't affect me. I wanted to pretend I didn't mind not getting valentines from secret admirers. Other children got valentines from admirers. Why not me?

I secretly hoped someone would send me a carnation-gram or a candy-gram, just because they cared. I just wanted to feel like a part of the group, to be like the others, to be loved or liked or accepted or something.

The truth is, I usually secretly admired someone. But I was too chicken to actually admit any feelings for anyone, and had this paranoia of being found out. But I felt others should be brave and tell me. Perhaps others would have let me know if they weren't so chicken (I like to believe that). Now, as an adult, I've long since outgrown these childish expectations, but the scars remain (oh, the tragedy!).

So, as I survey my life, right before the first Valentine's Day that I actually have someone in my life, I am forced to remember all the other days in which I had nothing. Or rather, I thought I had nothing. I love hindsight. I can see so clearly, now. I could have spent those Valentine's Days past (sounds like "A Christmas Carol" almost; all I need is a ghost visiting me in the night) doing something useful. I could have done nice things for other people and cheered them up instead of pouting and wishing someone liked me, wishing I had that special someone. I didn't. Oh, well. What can I do, now?

I actually have a sweetheart at the right time of year, for once. Now I can act smug and high and mighty and tell everyone how cool I am because I have someone and they don't. Ha ha ha ha ha!

But that's not why I'm writing this. I wish I had someone to point me in the right direction and say "Matt, you don't need to have a honey to show love. Show your friends you love them. Show your family you love them. Do nice things for others who probably feel left out. Don't be so self centered."

But you see, I was self centered, and would have ignored that person. I've come a long way. So now, rather than say "Do what I did," I'm going to invite you all to do what I didn't. Actually, nowadays, I try to do this all the time, but Valentine's Day is an especially good time, because this holiday is really about love. REAL love, not the fake, syruppy stuff we see on TV. I mean the kind of love that drives people to be better than they were. The kind of love that causes people to serve one another.

Ok, so what am I getting at (if you will pardon ending a sentence with a preposition)? How about showing a little loving for all those people out there who are less fortunate than you are? That could be just about anyone, because everyone has some private hurt that they let no one else see. You might brighten someone's day and not know what an impact you had. You may never get any thanks. Do it any way. Don't do it for the thanks, but for the knowlede of having helped another person. Give it a try. Do better than I did in my distant past (last week? just kidding!). No, seriously. I think you should. In fact, I want to hear what you did. If I get enough people telling me what they did to lift up another person (I'll give a few days), I'll post the ideas on my site.

Thank you for listening.

© Matthew Rutherford 1998

external links