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Today is Valentine’s Day. Which, therefore, clearly means that love is in the air – for those who somehow haven’t caught a whiff. I’m guessing a large number of usually boring males will behave with spectacular – though not unexpected – originality/creativity this evening. Not to mention all the pretty girls who will be delighted by the notion of carefully controlled ignorance wrapped in surprise; of anticipating whether their men will deliver on all the typical clichés such as flowers, chocolates, romantic, candle-lit dinners, etc. etc.

I do not personally subscribe to the idea of expressing love on a pre-determined day. Valentine’s Day seems silly to me for reasons pretty much directly linked to memories of grade school, which consisted of me and everyone else running around our classroom, speeding on sugar, handing out pieces of paper signed “LOVE FROM (name here),” and taking extra-special care with the valentine going to the girl/boy you really liked. I took a lot of pride in those particular Valentine’s, as I’m sure I’m not alone in doing.

But I also find it in no way ironic that Valentine’s Day happens during the coldest, crappiest part of February. As if the universe were out to spoil our professions of love with bitter cold, and the near-death of a season. Which, unfortunately, brings to mind that whole other percentage of people who will be sitting at home tonight, alone, eating ice cream and watching Breaking-Bad on Netflix, thinking depressing thoughts about happy couples and their obvious stupidity, and also how they themselves are perfectly happy to be single and on their own, free to make independent choices and such, which for the most part is a lie. We all want love, and someone to share it with.

Which is why Valentine’s Day is highly effective at getting under my skin these days, and why I’m writing to you now, dear reader. My short twenty-two years on Earth have taught me that love rarely takes the form we choose for it on V-Day. Mainly because Valentine’s-love lacks a certain gritty-realism, which should come as no surprise, given the whole cupid-must-have-brought-us-together! mindset percolating the air.

Celebrating love and loving someone are two wholly different affairs, indeed. And I am of the opinion that the best way to celebrate love is to love simply, day-in day-out; not make grand gestures that speak on behalf of something immeasurably vast. Gestures are surely nice, but they often leave much to be desired, which is something I would suspect holds especially true on a day devoted entirely to “the gesture of love.”

However, I’m not saying Valentine’s Day is stupid. I mean only to offer the slightest bit of advice: To all you studly gentlemen out there – your efforts, kindness, and attention will amount to very little if they disappear tomorrow. Be consistently good instead of spontaneously, just-for-one-night amazing. And ladies (especially those in new relationships), please be warned: your men will be warm, charming, and wonderful tonight. Do not reward them so easily for this, as charm is often most enjoyable while busy hiding its true intentions.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a pessimist about most things, but I do believe in the greatness/power of love. Which holds true even though love is oftentimes very messy, or at the very least, irrational. These things cannot be helped because love is palpable and profound in ways that other emotions are not. But the helplessness of love’s effects is precisely that which makes actually loving someone so incredibly difficult. Maintaining a healthy, loving relationship takes effort, time, open-mindedness, and selfless thought/action. Love is something you do, and something you want to do because you’re willing to work for it.

So, my message is a simple one: continue working for it. Everyday. Because Valentine’s Day is a day meant to recognize the other 364 you spend investing the truly difficult and unnoticeable efforts on those you love.