The Art of Loving

I am thinking about Valentine’s Day, well, because my art is about gifts. The art of the gift. Valentine’s Day brings to mind love. I love Valentine’s Day, have for many years. It is one of my favorite holidays. Not too showy, actually kind of a quiet holiday in some ways, a holiday about intimacy. I have made my husband valentine artworks every year for the 36 years we have been together. I wish I had taken better care of them. But oh well on that front. Perhaps I will keep up the tradition and take a little better care of them moving forward.

Anyway, the art of loving is just that. An art. Love, at this stage of my life, is very different than the love I felt as a young woman making those valentines’ for my husband. Now, making him a valentine might take more effort, it is less inspired by passion more a labor of a different kind of love. Erich Fromm likened this kind of love to commitment. In his book, The Art of Loving, Fromm maintained that “love is not merely a feeling but is also expressed through actions, and that in fact, the ‘feeling’ of love is superficial in comparison to one's commitment to love via a series of loving actions over time. In this sense, Fromm held that love is ultimately not a feeling at all, but rather is a commitment to, and adherence to, loving actions towards another, oneself, or many others, over a sustained duration. Fromm also described love as a conscious choice that in its early stages might originate as an involuntary feeling, but which then later no longer depends on those feelings, but rather depends only on conscious commitment” (from Wikipedia).

So, this Valentine’s Day, I will make my husband another valentine, I will acknowledge my commitment to him and my love for him and maybe, just maybe, I will dedicate myself more consciously to actions that center around growing that love, through small actions, so that I might encourage the creation of a more loving environment within my home. If my art is an expression of myself and my practice, then I want my practice to be one that holds love as the highest order and pursue that potential with all my heart.