Reflections on "Love Day"

Valentines Day at The Art of Loving is craziness. It’s bigger than Christmas.

Ordinarily, Saturday is a day off for me, but there’s no way two people could handle the V-Day rush, so I was there working overtime (sort of) with my co-workers Aimee and Niseema. And even with construction blocking the road at Burrard and 5th all day, it was non-stop sales inside our little shop for the entire 8 hours I was there.

Like I said, craziness.

Now, personally, I’ve actually never been one to make a big deal of Valentine’s Day. Call me cynical, but year after year I’ve failed to be convinced that the holiday is about anything more than capitalism and heteronormativity – too often it becomes an excuse for people to take their partners for granted because they can “make up for it” on one day of the year. But there was something contagious about it this year – and yeah, part of it was watching people treat their partners and themselves in the name of love all day, but it was more than that, too.

Allow me to get on my soapbox for a minute here – it is very easy to focus on distant goals and political ideology when you want to see the world changed for the better, and ignore the impact that your own relationships with the people around you have on our environment.

A generation of feminists taught us that the personal is political. I have taken this and applied it to many areas of my life, from my career choices to my eating habits, yet for years I did not think about how it might apply to my sex (and romantic) life.

Love itself is rarely a choice – but how we manifest that love is, whether we are conscious of it or not. How do you express your love? How do you live with it day to day? Does it make you freer, happier, more aware of your interactions with others? Does it inspire you to approach all your relationships in a way that’s fulfilling to everyone? Is your sex life empowering?

This year, I made Valentine’s day a day to reflect on love itself as a form of activism.

I defy anyone who has ever genuinely loved another human being to say that it has not caused them to consider their own behaviour, habits, and points of view. Or challenged them to make choices about being loyal, unselfish, supportive, patient -- even (especially) when it's not easy. While so many of the problems plaguing our world today stem from the impulse to demonize and objectify the “other”, healthy relationships encourage us to do the opposite by expanding our circle of concern to actively include other people.

The radical potential of love is infinite. Just look at the way brave queer activists are slowly but surely changing the culture and laws that shape so much of our lives, simply by asserting their right to love and desire.  

I am happy that my job itself often brings me into contact with people who are acting on their love just by coming into the store where I work. It is a nice daily reminder that how we shape our love – for ourselves, our friends, our partners, everyone - is how we shape our lives and our world.