On the 14th of February, we celebrate (or ignore) St. Valentine’s Day.
This holiday heralds in spring, cupids, and gifts of love. The day is about the undeniable and awesome power of love and with it memories of giving and getting Valentine’s cards.
St. Valentine was the Christian martyr who was imprisoned and put to death in 269 AD for performing weddings for Roman soldiers.
Emperor Aurelian of Rome knew that a married soldier would not fight as hard because he actually had something to live for. Thus Saint Valentine was put to death.
We all know the sway love holds over us all. Nearly all of the great novels of the past concern the problems presented by love. Flaubert called flirtation “a silent prayer.”
In the novel “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy, Bathsheba Everdene sends William Boldwood a valentine card in jest and this card will eventually lead to his death.
Don Quixote had his Dulcinea, Dante had his Beatrice and Jay Gatsby had his Daisy but no matter who the novelist when it comes to love, their answers are not terribly helpful.
Don Quixote’s love remains unrequited, Jay Gatsby wound up dead and Dante finally finds his long lost Beatrice up in heaven after traveling through hell to get to her but she merely shrugs him off and tells him to go talk to God.
Such is the pain and the problem of the human heart. So what are we to do with St. Valentine’s Day right around the corner?
Well as luck would have it an old friend of mine, who is a Beatrice, Dulcinea and Daisy all rolled into one, is married to an expert on love and who just wrote a book on the subject.
My friend is Victoria Salta and I met Victoria back in the days when I worked in Holliswood Hospital, a private psychiatric facility. She was a uniquely beautiful and kind social worker and she eventually married Thomas Jordan, a psychologist and author of the new book “Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life.”
Dr. Jordan is a psychoanalyst living and working in Manhattan and his book is a primer on what can go wrong in your love life, why it happens and what to do about it.
His thesis is a simple one. He explains that we learn all about love in our childhood and the problems we absorb. We may experience abandonment, abuse, control, dependency, dishonesty, exploitation, mistrust, neglect, rejection or self-centeredness in our family of origin.
He lays out a map that allows you to assess with some degree of accuracy which of these problems you may have and explains how one goes about changing things. Like all good analysts, he suggests that you must face your own issues rather than attempting to change your significant other.
He references the late great Leo Buscaglia, who taught the famed Love Class at Berkeley. Buscaglia was one of the first celebrity/academics who was often featured on PBS is discuss the wonders and the draw of love.
When I was in graduate school I earned extra money by evaluating all the arts and humanities grants run out of the Suffolk County BOCES and I was assigned to evaluate a million dollar grant called “The Love Lesson” that the Roslyn School District created.
The grant was a thing of joy and to this day ask the question of why don’t schools put more time into teaching about love.
Perhaps the subject of love is too complicated or maybe it’s not practical enough or maybe educators think that love is the exclusive domain of the family.
Our search for love is akin to finding the Holy Grail or the golden city of El Dorado. Sir Lancelot spent a life looking for the Holy Grail and Francisco Pizarro spent years in the jungles of the Amazon in search of the golden city of El Dorado.
As Dr. Thomas Jordan tells us many spend a lifetime in a confused and desperate search for love, going down blind alleys and ending in discouragement. It is a welcome thing indeed to come across a treasure like his book, a friendly guide book helping the reader get through the jungle of confusion of the heart. His book is an easy captivating message that can hold your hand as you continue along your search to find love. What better time to do so than on Valentine’s Day.