In Praise of the Spirit of Love

It’s February and love is in the air. As we get ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it’s time to put aside cynicism, open our hearts to Cupid’s arrow and throw ourselves headlong into that intoxicating feeling called love — even if it is for a day. Remember the first time you fell in love? Your pulse quickening, your heart skipping a beat, butterflies in your stomach in anticipation to see the loved one? We may be socially distanced now, but Valentine’s Day is a reminder that the intimacy of the heart and emotional closeness to a loved one are alive and kicking.

St. Valentine was a Catholic priest in 3rd century Rome who secretly married Roman soldiers forbidden by Emperor Claudius II from marriage. Roman soldiers spent their life married to the army, devoting their lives to marching, training, and fighting wars, denied the joys of love. St. Valentine conducted secret Christian ceremonies to help soldiers marry and eventually was imprisoned for his crimes. In jail, he cared for other prisoners and cured the jailer’s blind daughter, sending her a love letter before he was executed, signed ‘from your Valentine.’ St. Valentine was executed on February 14, 270.

Parting (and love) is such sweet sorrow, to quote Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And, in this phrase lies the essence of the feeling called love, which grows stronger when faced with obstacles, personal or societal. True love means overcoming those hurdles and standing up for oneself and one’s right to love. That feeling of sweetness, sorrow, struggle, and survival to find the joy is the quintessential feeling called love.

Then there is love that goes beyond romance. The kind that is unconditional: one’s love for children, siblings, family and friends. We love and cherish them with just as much depth and feeling as we do those we love romantically. Of course you can’t love another with such depth of feeling unless you love yourself. Self-love is fundamental and just as important as love for another.

And, finally, love and romance that becomes stronger as you grow old and age together is perhaps the truest romantic love of all. As the lyrics from one of my favorite songs by Irish poet (singer, songwriter superstar) Ed Sheren goes….

When your legs don’t work like they used to before

And I can’t sweep you off of your feet

Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love

Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks

And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70

And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23…”

When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades

And the crowds don’t remember my name

When my hands don’t play the strings the same way, mm

I know you will still love me the same

‘Cause honey your soul can never grow old, it’s evergreen

Baby your smile’s forever in my mind and memory

Yes, love can be eternal. In this issue of SEEMA we focus on love of all kinds. From our cover story of Raj and Bryan, a gay couple who have a relationship that many heterosexual couples could only dream about, to the vignettes of 40 South Asian women who share what they beyond romantic love, to India’s Instagram Love Project, which documents the stories of inter-faith and inter-racial relationships that push the boundaries of caste and religion, we hope to bring you inspiring stories you will fall in love with. Plus, we cover books, cocktails, dating apps, your horoscope, and more. I welcome you to sit back, flip through and send us your comments. Happy Valentine’s Day!