Monday, February 8, 2010

Eros Day

To the jaundiced eye (not mine) pizza and beer are to the Super Bowl as flowers and chocolate are to Valentine’s Day. These people (certainly not I) see the two holidays as inventions of commerce. But they confuse cause with effect.

As holidays go I rank Valentine’s Day the most important. Above dead presidents, pseudo-religious observances which are really tied to seasonal changes and all those other occasions which are nothing more than three-day weekends.

Why not set aside a day for Eros? Too bad we need a nudge to remind us but the wake-up call can’t hurt. If Hallmark cards are a beneficiary, so be it. It is a paradox that two of my favorite words, poetry and love, have so few correlatives to express their many varieties and nuances. Was there ever a more over-used, exhausted, yet essential, word than love?

Consider love as desire, as intimacy and life force. Or agape (unconditional, sacrificial). Or filial love, or I love pumpkin ice cream or I love it when Kobe hits that jumper, or my country, love it or get outta here.

Now I want to take issue with Tolstoy who famously said, in the first lines of Anna Karenina that, “All happy families are alike, each family is unhappy in its own way.” I would argue that happiness has as many varieties each with its own story. And furthermore that it is much more challenging to write about love and happiness than about depression, despondency, despair or demented behavior. This is a paucity of our language and perhaps a consequence of Puritan inhibitions.

Love is the answer. It’s in the air. It’s here to stay.

Speak low, darling, speak low
Love is a spark, lost in the dark, too soon.
We’re late, darling, we’re late
The curtain descends, everything ends, too soon.

Eros was born of Aphrodite. He was called Cupid and shot his arrows randomly, spreading the good news, mating first with Psyche and then with Chaos with whom he created birds. Not a bad run for the chubby archer.

For Peggy and me Valentine’s Day is an exchange of poems, of reminisces where we’ve been, how we met and continue to meet each day. It is the opportunity to let flow that torrent of affection, to enter into a safe unknown; not to trespass but hold the mystery of each other.

Here we are on the couch, nose in books, feet at each other’s face. I can feel when her eyes lift from the page to read me, our silence on every line. So much passes between us, a thirst quenched from some enormous gourd we have scooped out together.

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