Growing up, I could NOT complain about being bored. If I did, my mom would tell me, "Boring people lead boring lives." It never felt good to hear -- but guess what? I grew up into a person who never feels bored -- and who almost takes concerns like, "It might not be fun for you," or, "I'm afraid you'd be bored," as an insult.
Similarly, as an adult, I sometimes find myself telling people who claim that Valentine's Day is "dumb," "commercialized," or a "Hallmark holiday": "It's only dumb if you make it dumb."
"If you find it uninspiring, it's only because you are uninspired.
Maybe it's harsh. But I'm mean because I care.
I don't just love Valentine's Day so much that I love to celebrate for a whole week (or, at least, 3-day weekend). I love to go overboard, with ocean projector dinners
and beach picnics in giant kelp hearts.
Valentine's Day is a wonderful time to be silly, adventurous, and daring. It's a time to express your feelings and make bold declarations.
We should seize the opportunity to let loose. To be romantic and campy and thoughtful.
Not just on Valentine's Day... but, like, every day.
Because, look. Playfulness isn't a trait. It's a skill. And if you're a millennial, chances are you never learned it. As a play expert (no, seriously -- I actually did my master's on this), I've spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to develop play and leisure skills as an adult.
The number one best way, to me, is travel. More specifically, by doing what you do when you travel while you're at home. As I wrote in a previous post:
When you travel, long bus rides are an exciting way to see the countryside. So why does a long drive through the California central valley have to be boring?
It doesn't. With the right mindset, it can be wonderfully magical. Like, why not pull over and do some ballet in the almond orchards?
When you travel, going to the market is a fun adventure, and everyone you talk to has an exciting background and perspective to share. Why can't the same be true at home?
Of the people I've become friends with over the last few years, I met one in a laundry room, one at Safeway, one on a train, and one at a coffee shop. These friendships never would have happened if I had a "put your head down and go," "don't talk to strangers" mentality.
Valentine's Day is the same -- but different.
See, on Valentine's Day, we allow ourselves to get excited over our partners, our crushes, our friends. We allow ourselves to be unabashedly silly. We put extra thought into making someone else's day special -- which, in effect, makes us happier, too.
(Remember: one of the best ways to buy your happiness is by spending as little as $5 on someone other than yourself.)
On Valentine's Day, we look for resources and opportunities for fun, right in our own community. As I wrote in 8 Reasons to Spend MORE, Not Less, Money, most people never take advantage of events and attractions in their own hometown.
And it's not even like I'm some wonderful, perfect exception. When the Super Bowl was in San Francisco a few years ago, I was like, "Meh. Football. Who cares?"
But when I happened to be in Minneapolis during the Super Bowl festivities, I was like, "HOW MANY FREE CONCERTS AND ACTIVITIES CAN I DO IN A DAY?????"
Football in virtual reality.
Because we all have an instinct for idleness. It's easy to tune out and rely on passive entertainment. It's easy to take our loved ones for granted.
But what if we didn't? What if we lived every day kind of like it was Valentine's Day?
Well, as it turns out, I wrote a song about just that. It's called "Year-Round Valentine," and I played it at a songwriting contest this week.
In verse one, these two people are just so excited, they can't sleep. It's raining -- but that is NOT going to keep them inside. (Remember, if you're too cold or too wet, you're not dressed right for the weather.)
Early morning, day has come, and I run into the freshly fallen rain
Sun's still rising, moon above, and I just can't wait to see my love again.
In verse two, they're over-the-top lovey and goofy -- and that's okay! It's almost, like, this crazy religious experience.
They say 'in love' fades over time, but instead each day I feel it more and more
Butterflies, he takes my breath! No Juliette's ever felt this way before.
When I see her, the rocks and stones take a new life of their own.
Then they go to the beach -- just because! And instead of just walking around doing nothing, they make a lot more than castles in the sand.
Sunroof's open, windows down, we're headed to the coastline hand-in-hand
Running, jumping, waves and wind, we're making more than castles in the sand.
Yellow sunset, reflecting off the water on her skin.
They even go swimming during the sunset! That's the kind of thing a lot of people might only do on a special occasion -- but, again, why can't every day be a special occasion?
But even if you don't have time to go to the beach every day -- even if you both have jobs -- you can still have a magical morning together.
White rug, fireplace, hold me longer and we'll let the workday wait.
I mean, the workday can't wait forever. But... maybe it can wait a little. You can definitely whip up some heart-shaped eggs and pancakes just because whatever.
Or even just a special coffee drink. I knew a guy who would make me coffee every morning, and it seriously made me love him more every day.
And why not mix up the routine with something special sometimes? Ever since my trip to Myanmar, I've been obsessed with the Royal Myanmar Tea Mix -- it's super expensive here compared to there, but it's actually totally worth it. It's better than anything you can buy at Starbucks or whatever, it only takes about three minutes to make it, and it makes every morning a little more special.
But I also really loved the white coffee I bought in Malaysia. Again, it's way more expensive here than there, so stock up when you're overseas. But, since the mix has everything in it you need to create a delicious, instant beverage, I think it's totally worth it. It's a wonderful way to make a wonderful partner feel special.
If that's out of your price range, they always have interesting powdered drinks at Trader Joe's. I didn't like their matcha at first, but it definitely grew on me, and I'm currently craving it more than coffee. The amount of time you invest into making a special morning is tiny compared to the relationship benefits.
Or. You can wake up and garden together. Or you can go get huge together -- and don't forget to take an obnoxious selfie while you're doing it. (You'd document it if it were Valentine's Day, right?)
Or you can walk the dog. One of my favorite activities to do with a boyfriend... is just walking. Especially with a dog, but even without one. Interesting things can happen right there in your own neighborhood.
Putting in a small amount of effort to do something together every day, just like it's Valentine's Day, could keep your life and your relationship interesting. After all, couples that play together, stay together.
And boring people lead boring lives.
2/9/2018 05:10:17 pm
THANK YOU. I always hear people say, "We shouldn't celebrate Valentine's Day, because you should treasure your partner every day." But if you don't celebrate Valentine's Day, what model do you have for treating someone like they're special and making them feel good? Especially if, as you say, my generation lacks playfulness skills.
2/10/2018 07:58:49 am
I love this too. I hear people say things like "but it's so commercial and I don't want to buy a cheap card and chocolate just because society tells me too" - so then don't! Any of the examples you've given are much more personalized, spontaneous, and fun. Buying a heart-shaped cookie with super bright frosting from a bakery costs $2, a outing to the beach costs $0, hiking up into the hills to see the sunset costs $0...why is the day portrayed as this false dichotomy between super boring/commercial and doing nothing at all?
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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