I have a bone to pick with Cupid.
CHUBBY AND SHORT
Sure, this Roman god of love can be cute and charming. Yes, he means well even though he is mischievous at times. And, yes again, there’s nothing menacing about him once you get past the fear factor elicited by his bow and arrow. I am not even counting the number of times he misses nor am I holding against him the mess he leaves behind when he does miss.
My real issue with Cupid is he dominates the airwaves unfairly when it comes to defining love. Without fail, his is the first mug to appear on Valentine’s Day. He is the de facto image representation of the everyday, knee-jerk definition of love. In a climate of flash mob make-you-giddy-with-synchronized-glitz and big-screen-ballpark-arena grand gestures of marriage proposals, Cupid is the kid that radiates the warm and fuzzies that make toes and fingers tingle.
There is nothing inherently bad about any of this except, for those of us who are all squared away on romantic love and looking for more, Cupid leaves us high and dry. Cupid’s arrow falls south and fails to satisfy those with a hankering for a bigger, bolder, all-encompassing love. And the even sadder thing is Cupid has no backup on whom to call. Yes. I searched online for Cupid’s daddy and those Roman and Greek mythology writers could not agree whether his father was Mars, Jupiter or Mercury.
LOVE BY ANY OTHER NAME
It is interesting that there is no icon for love that touches a wider circle. Platonic love, what we have come to know as the term for love not involving physical desire, has to be defined in terms of its chasteness; to the degree that it is non-sexual. It is as though the only way to define love is by the presence or absence of sexual desire. This way of looking at non-romantic love is both limited and limiting.
The good news is, while Cupid is grappling with the inadequacy of his arrow, those whose hearts have room for more than romantic love get busy aiming for a wider reach.
A WIDER CIRCLE KIND OF LOVE
Below is a snapshot of a few acts of love that I’ve witnessed in the last few weeks:
+ Nine women made the heartfelt effort to travel many, many sleep-robbing airline miles to a place very few people visit. Not only did they show up, they came bearing wonderful gifts! These women hauled an astounding number of huge duffel bags ranging from forty to fifty pounds filled with clothing, makeup, toys, books, medical supplies, maxi pads (because tampons simply wouldn’t work for reasons I could tell you in private), sewing and knitting materials and who knows what else.
+ At least one of these women sold her prized antiques and other valuables, donating the equivalent to those who would greatly benefit from it.
+ Forty-five women and one-hundred-fifty-plus women and children greeted the nine women visitors with the most amazing, most memorable, most welcoming celebratory hello. They were incredibly grateful to have visitors at their home, and their open arms and wide smiles more than made up for the thirty-plus twisting-in-a-not-yoga-way hours of travel time getting there.
+ These women communicated with one another in a universal language that transcended awkward pauses and question marks. They forged connections that Cupid’s arrow could not reach and shared experiences so profound that lives were forever transformed.
+ Tiny children, well or unwell, most, if not all, conceived from gender violence, gripped the hands and hearts of these nine women — moving them with trusting innocence, bringing them joy with their rhythm and rhyme.
+ People, regardless of age, skin color, shoe size or lack thereof, responded to one another; stirring up every bit of what is good about being human.
+ Women from a more peaceful shore, humbled by the disparity they saw, listened to stories nobody would ever want to hear knowing how much it meant to tell the truth.
+ Women, voiceless for most of their lives, told their difficult stories so that thousands more women like them unable to speak would be heard.
MAYBE NEXT TIME, CUPID?
There are many, many others out there looking for an emotional and possibly spiritual stirring that Cupid’s narrow arrow cannot reach. Perhaps, this Valentine’s Day, they will find that different kind of arrow they seek. And maybe that different kind of arrow will hit a bulls eye, issuing a call to those longing and willing to explore a broader understanding of being human and a more nuanced definition of love.
How do you define love that is more inclusive than romantic love?