Valentine’s Day has never really been about romance for me. Maybe because it’s my brother’s birthday, too, and, for the first dozen years of my life, on February 14, family gathered at my house to celebrate him. They brought Ange wrapped gifts—and candy for me. (Poor Ange.) There was a lot of love. All around.
In later years, there we awkward tokens of the stuffed animals and chocolate sort, sure. And then for a short time, undergarments ever-so slightly sexier than cotton bikinis gifted by a hopeful husband. Now, displays of romantic love take the form of driveways shoveled while I drink coffee and herd cats to take pills and kids to brush teeth. (Don’t get me wrong: these gifts are very much are appreciated.) Dinners in dimly light places were never of interest; instead, we’ve always preferred co-hosting a crew of people who make us feel happy and warm (plus spirits that do the same) and lots of pancakes. So I guess there is whipped cream. Lots.
So I get behind Galentine’s Day. And Palentine’s Day. And Galaxalentine’s Day. I want us all to love everyone else in the galaxy. To look at all others in a way that allows us to see the best in them, in ways that make us feel more grateful and happy and understanding and compassionate.
“Choosing love” will not solve all of our problems. I practice yoga all the time with this intention in mind and still scream at my children, scream the F word at the F150 who speeds by on a dicey icy road, fall short as a friend and family member, and generally act like an asshole at least 19 percent of the time. And then there are the institutions of oppression that will require far more than good intentions and kind thoughts to dismantle.
But I think we can start by taking the high road, looking for the good, surrounding ourselves with people who hold us accountable. And taking little actions every to choose love every chance we get. Start right now:
Say something nice about yourself. Out loud if you wish.
Tell someone you love how you feel. In an email if you must.
Invite a friend to go for a walk. Point out something beautiful.
Smile at a stranger.
Snuggle a dog.
Get a colleague a cup of coffee.
Venmo a faraway friend surprise cash for a sweet, your treat.
Assume the other person's intention was good.
Or at least not evil.
Donate to a group that works for social justice.
Buy flowers for someone who needs a boost.