Valentine’s Day might seem like a cheap marketing trick designed to make singles feel worse about themselves (and maybe it is), but it also reminds us of something simple yet profound: that all relationships, romantic and non-romantic, are truly worth celebrating.
We need people. This seems obvious, but ‘independence’ and ‘individualism’ are so prized these days that many of us trade opportunities to nurture relationships for opportunities to pursue our own goals, to meet our own deadlines, or to finish our own duties.
And when you think about it, life would be much easier and clear-cut that way. We wouldn’t have to deal with the messiness and drama of dealing with people. There would be less distractions and more time for ourselves and our projects, for producing outcomes. We’d be more efficient that way.
But here’s the thing: we are human. We aren’t meant to operate like machines. We can’t just expect ourselves to work constantly and churn out results, expecting this to be the recipe for a fulfilling life. A fruitful life requires way more than success and achievement; it requires people.
Nothing can take the place of meaningful connections and relationships; they make life that much more colorful, that much more livable, and that much more bearable. They can fix an entire month of stress with five seconds of shared laughter. Love heals. It’s medicine. It’s irreplaceable.
Below is a piece of writing that struck me immensely. It was written by a woman named Erma Bombeck after being diagnosed with cancer, outlining things she would’ve done over if she had the chance to.
“If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth … I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband … Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorry’s” … But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.”
Yes, independence, privacy, and solitude are all valuable things to preserve. But people are always worth making space for. People are worth the effort, the time, the energy, the sacrifice, the accommodation, and even the occasional nuisance. Because in the end, it’s not the number of trophies that’ll matter most, but the laughs we shared, the memories we made, and the tears of joy and sorrow we shared with and for our loved ones. These perfect moments are what make life beautiful, moments made perfect in their imperfection.
It’s not always about the things we do, but the people we do them with; not the places we see, but the people we see them with; not the answers to life, but the people we can puzzle about life with.