Being a hopelessly naive romantic, Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite “holidays,” right up there with Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July.
Feb. 14 – this Friday if you need to be reminded – is the only day set aside to celebrate your love for a single person, be she or he a wife, husband or lover. It may not have the strong spiritual overtones that Christmas can cultivate, but perhaps it should.
Love is the greatest human emotion and experience and it’s the motivating force behind some of our greatest achievements, whether poems, architecture or children. Yet defining the nature of love is so difficult and daunting only a damned fool would try, so I’ll give it a shot.
To begin, love is spiritual as opposed to physical, which separates it from the sexual sphere. There can be little doubt about this and science tends to confirm it. Brain-scan images clearly indicate sex and love are lodged in two distinctly different areas of the brain. Love is generated in our frontal lobes along with our rational facilities. However, sex is centered in the rear of our brains, near the top of our spinal column, in a region that’s felt to be quite primitive in an evolutionary sense. Being thus separated, we can generate considerable love for our parents, children, dogs and cats.
Some scholars suggest there are different kinds of love; that is, the love for your dog is different from the love for your children. Yet I’m inclined to believe love is the same no matter where you find it – and hard science tends to support this.
Some people are quick to point out that sex is better when it’s mixed with love. I suppose so, but that’s cutting a pretty fine line.
There are, of course, different degrees of love, some more intense than others. The early stages of romantic love, especially after it becomes fused with sexual hormones, can look like some kind of mental illness; giddy, irrational and out of control.
But I’d like to conclude this column with a warmer sentiment; like, dinner in a secluded little alcove away from the rush and brilliance of our everyday world. And, if you haven’t yet made reservations, you better do so in the next hour or two. If money isn’t any problem, I’d immediately recommend two Seattle restaurants: Canlis on Lake Union and the Hunt Club in the Sorrento Hotel. Both require jackets, their prices are astronomical and the ambiance is to die for. On the other hand, love can surely overcome the less luxurious atmosphere of any number of fine local restaurants scattered about the Plateau and they only cost one-tenth as much. Not on the Plateau, but still within easy striking distance, I’d mention Giovanni’s, an excellent Italian menu near the main intersection of downtown Auburn.
Anyway, let’s make it a dozen red roses, two glasses of Merlot, a quiet sense of closure and two pairs of wondrous eyes gazing intimately at one another over a flickering waft of candlelight.
Happy Valentine’s Day!