Today is Valentines Day. Many think its a day of giving and getting, whether it be cards or candy, food or flowers, but to me Valentines Day is a day for people to stop and take stock of those they love, more importantly those they have chosen to love.
If someone asks you how do you feel for your parents, you will probably (I hope) say, “I love them.” If someone asks you how you feel about your spouse or girl/boy friend you will probably also say, “I love them.” Same sentence, but do they mean the same thing?
Probably not, although I don’t really know about you.
Family is a bond that has a strong connection even in America, where we don’t live with our parents after 18 (though that has changed due to the job situation) and usually end up putting our parents in nursing homes. Its a connection that no matter how much they annoy us, we will always love and care for fathers and sisters, mothers and brothers.We can make fun of our family, but woe to the one who makes fun of them who is not part of the family. We know their horrific faults, but we will stand up for them through most of it. It doesn’t matter at all what they look like, how smart or dumb they are, if they are massively infirmed or have some other problem. They are family. Its just that simple.
When it comes to those we choose to love though, we look for those who have characteristics we want, usually. We try and find those who are interesting to us, and will help us and nurture us in a similar way to our family, but in different directions. We want them to succeed and rejoice, like with our family, when they do, but they don’t HAVE to be in our lives, we put them there. And the love we have for them is much more powerful and also, sometimes, much more fickle.
For those who travel, you begin to realize that this difference of love holds true not just to people, but to other things as well. Towns, forms of public transportation, food, and countries.
To me, as an American, I see both the amazingly good and the terrifically bad in America, and feel the urge to talk about both, and sometimes complain about the bad. But when I am outside the country I find myself routinely sticking up for things that in the US I would just say, “Ya, thats true.” or “It’s horrible.” (though somethings I would just write off the person as crazy in the US). And its because America is my family. Its my homeland. And I will knock it six ways to Sunday but you better not because you don’t even know the good stuff as well, or acknowledge it. People are very protective of their homeland, just ask a Russian, or a Frenchman, A German or an Egyptian. They know all the problems, probably way better then you ever could, but they don’t want you expounding upon them because you are still an outsider to their “family”.
But today, like I said, is a day to think about those you have Chosen to love. This morning I spent with my girlfriend, whom I adore. She left sadly, and so now I am briefly thinking about the land I have chosen to love. Tajikistan.
I don’t know why, but Tajikistan has truly captured my heart and mind. The country has problems, I will freely admit it, but for some reason I am always thinking and wondering about it. Its multitude of languages, some older than Alexander the Great. Its mountains, its multitudes of religions, its fruits, its welcoming people, its snowy glaciers and arid plains, its massive rivers, and excruciatingly long history. Its potential, and its spirit. The roads and needing to “drive like a snake”. The customs and the food. All these things and more have made Tajikistan my chosen land. I wasn’t born there, and I probably will not die there. I doubt I will spend more than 10 years of my life IN the country, but the country is one I have fallen in love with.
So when you travel keep this in mind. Love is just around the corner, and you never really know if the next town you stay in may become the town you choose.
On this Valentines Day, I’d like you to think about that land or city you have chosen, even if it is only for a brief moment, as you also celebrate the people you love. And let me know what places you love.
(For those who may be upset with me because my country isn’t Ukraine, sorry, but I like it like a friend.)