“They aint getting a dime outta me day,” “Just another commercial holiday,” “Single Person’s Awareness Day,” are some of the voices of Valentine’s Day. When I was a child, my mother would give to me, each year, a Valentine, a note of endearment enclosed with a sweet treat. I take this holiday seriously. It’s not just a day of mercy sex and high caloric chocolate—it is a day of expressing love towards the people one is thankful for.
As a little girl, I remember going to school, excited and ready to give notes and candy Valentines to friends—it made them smile which made my day brighter. When I got a little older, and was working at the college, I still kept Cupid’s tradition alive by slipping candy conversational hearts into friends’ and coworkers’ work-mailboxes. A 90% turn-around of “Thank yous” and “That was the first Valentine I received in a long time,” was what helped me redefine the voice of Valentine’s Day.
Even today, I’m happy to see Valentine’s Day arrive. For instance, going into random stores and seeing the reds minus the greens. The teddy bears, the chocolates, the musical cards, and the heart-shaped pillows are not the most important part of this day, but the words of endearment i.e., the sonnets and the poetry! The true voice of Valentine’s Day is not about the material items we give but the words we say. When you can redefine “I love you;” you have redefined the action of cherishing. The act of cherishing is limitless. And, one of the greatest love poets (a cherisher of love) would be Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.
Rumi, a 13th century poet, born in Turkey, was a great spiritual leader and teacher (founder of the brotherhood of the Mevlevi) who tapped into the love vibration. The majority of what he spoke was written down in odes, quatrains, and (what we like to call) sonnets. His words were chanted, sung, and all done through the medium of whirling (a scared practice by those tuning into the enlightenment of God). He wrote of being drunk with love, dying in love, and how “I am powerless to Love’s game.” Moreover, Rumi wrote about the ecstasy of love making as a fire which burns. He spoke, “The lover’s house improves with fire. From now on I will make burning my aim, […] for I am like the candle: burning only makes me brighter.” Love, defined by Rumi, was a wanting, “every bit of the universe if filled with wanting, and whatever any bit wants, wants the wanter!” Love needs us just as much as we need love. “In fact, all the particles of the world are in love and looking for lovers.” Basically, our desires are not fruitless, illogical, or childish; our desires “make the lover weak, while the Beloved gets strong.” How many times have people told you not to fall in love? Falling in love will only make you a fool; however, to Rumi, the bigger the fool (and the harder they fall) the better. “The lovers will drink wine night and day; they will drink until they can tear away the veils of intellect and melt away the layers of shame and modesty. When in Love, body, mind, heart, and soul don’t even exist. Become this, fall in Love, and you will not be separated again” (Selections from the poetry of Rumi, “The Lover”).
A true lover is definitely a wanderer. This dance of roaming and searching for love, and for the lover’s embrace, is prevalent in Rumi’s work. “Failure is the key to the kingdom within.” There must be pain and sorrow, “the cure for pain is in the pain.” How many times has someone told you the cure for pain is to let it go? By not experiencing the pain, a person (blind or aware) will begin to fear more isolation and rejection (Selections from the poetry of Rumi, “Desire and the Importance of Failing”).
Rumi’s poetry reflects his life as a Whirling Dervish i.e., love is a constant hurricane and tornado of passion and wanting and letting go of one’s ego. Most Hallmark cards are not going to claim, “Better to be a prey than a hunter. Make yourself my fool. Stop trying to be the sun and become a speck! Dwell at My door and be homeless. Don’t pretend to be a candle, be a moth, so you may taste the savor of Life and know the power hidden in serving.” Love can be the most passionate vehicle in the universe. We can literally fly and touch heaven because love is, according to Rumi, “the master alchemist.” We are the medium between Heaven and Earth. In so much as, we are the vehicle in which absorbs and carries acts of love and servitude to others. Love is always redefined, questioned, and beckoned to come in the works of Rumi. In Rumi’s words, he spoke, “What do you know of Love except the name? Love has a hundred forms of pride and disdain, and is gained by a hundred means of persuasion. Since Love is loyal, it purchases one who is loyal: it has no interest in a disloyal companion.” (Selections from the poetry of Rumi, “Love”). For some, all they know is only the word “love” and not the actual truth or act of love. People can go their whole life not knowing what love is despite their many attempts at hasty relationships and match making failures. One can go their whole life searching for love—never knowing that love comes only when one is giving, not taking.
There are many voices of love. According to John Alan Lee (1973) who wrote the book Colours of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving, a professor, who wrote the six love styles i.e., eros (Feeding-the-sexual-appetite-honeymooning-all-the-time-love), mania (Crazy-vampire-I-can’t-breathe-without-you-teenager-love), pragma (You-bring-home-the-bacon-I’ll-have-the-baby-love), storge (My-best-friend-forever-love), agape (Selfless-sacrificial-you-don’t-have-to-be-anything-but-you-love), and ludus (Rock-star-lets-not-get-too-serious-and-have-fun-love). According to Clyde and Susan Hendricks (1986), agape love is more of an ideal and not a reality in love relationships. Ludus is practiced more by males; and, pragma and storge styles are practiced more by females.
Now, the act of defining love is endless. Some may argue against mania love by saying it’s too dangerous and too needy. Others may argue and say ludus (the player) is too selfish/emotionally unavailable and pragma (the cold fish) too materialistic/self-serving with no soul. Some may argue agape, one of the six styles of love, is the only true style of love (storge coming in at 2nd place). And it doesn’t matter if you are broken hearted, broken up, or broken down—there is someone in your life you can connect with. Love is a strong entity and what Rumi defined as a spiritual ecstasy, unlimited and that which does not castrate the physical, the sexual, or the mental. Expression through a sonnet or a love poem is an old- timed, treasured ritual which connects all cultures. For when one is spinning on their right foot and leading with their left (as the brotherhood of the Whirling Dervish do) there is no way one will ever have to put a foot in one’s mouth. For, we are all, in the enlightened eyes of Rumi, “a shadow of the Beloved.” (Sections from the poetry of Rumi, “One Whisper of the Beloved”).