“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Where there is love there is life.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
“Do all things with love.” ~ Og Mandino
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see’em bloom, for me and for you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
I friend of mine recently “liked” a comment on Face Book, not an unusual action in the days of over-indulgent social media. However, what is unusual about the comment on her page, a response from me to a posting of hers, was from early October…of 2010. Do you realize how hard it is to move that far backwards through your wall?!?
As you can see, in it I divulged my growing devotion and desire to be with Jody. Permanently. Of course this “liking” comes on the heels of Valentine’s Day (VD), a quite romantic if unlikely notion. But what makes this so very abnormally doubtful is I have no idea what possessed A to reach so far back into her FB postings to see or find this particular entry…if she was, indeed, even looking.
It is, as I like to say, another example of how the universe unfolds pretty much how it should. From my wedding vows, said to Jody more than 13 months after I proclaimed to A that I would indeed marry Jody:“We are all children of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; and have a right to be standing here, in absolute love. And whether or not it is clear to those here today, no doubt for us, Jody, the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Jody and I have decided to adopt the Japanese approach to VD, and trust me, it does not involve the double-barrel shots of penicillin to the buttocks – been there, done that, “butt” (pun intended) the t-shirt had to be burned for infection control. Rather, Jody is (hopefully) going to get me chocolates, we’ll walk down the block for a local and wine-infused dinner, and then stumble home to continue our celebrations. In March, I get to return the favor, and then some, during “White Day.”
Here VD in Japan takes an interesting turn away from the West: women traditionally do all the giving. When chocolate companies originally started pushing the Western idea of VD in Japan, they focused on women as sole givers. At the time, Japanese women were quite conservative in voicing affections, so the rather novel idea of surrogate chocolates was immediately and widely embraced.
I see skies of blue, clouds of white
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
However, as a new tradition not yet ingrained in culture, customs surrounding Valentine’s Day in Japan have shifted. In more modern times, women do give chocolates as a gesture of love. But before you get too overly excited about receiving chocolates from a Japanese woman, realize that they also give chocolates to work colleagues and male friends – called giri-choco, literally “obligation chocolate” – as a gesture of thanks or friendship. The concept of giri is very Asian; it is a mutual obligation that the Japanese follow when, if someone does you a favor, then you feel obligated to do something in return. In this sense, it is not unusual for a woman to buy 20 to 30 boxes of chocolate at several hundred yen each (several dollars) for distribution around the office and to other male friends.
The colors of a rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”
Conversely, for that special man in her life, a Japanese lover can choose from various types of honmei-choco (“sweetheart” or “true love chocolate”) of much higher quality (and cost) than the obligation sweets. And, even more recently, home-made treats have become even more popular, along with gyaku-choco (“reverse chocolates,” men giving women chocolates), and tomo-choco (“friendship chocolates,” very popular between young girlfriends).
It’s clearly become a very popular day in Japan; more than half of Japan’s annual chocolate sales happen during February and March, when “White Day” occurs. “White Day” was created in Japan in 1980 to help soften the guilt of males who received VD chocolates. Exactly one month after Valentine’s Day, men who were lucky enough to receive sugar-infused gifts are given the chance to return the favor. But, in a sexist twist that seems to have not been lost in translation, the expectation for these return gifts is to be of higher value than those purchased by women!
I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more, than I’ll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
No matter how you elect to treat your own VD, please strive to root your life in compassion and love. It is a utopian ideal, but one worthy of our attentive focus and best effort. To Jody, I rededicate my life to the You and the Me in Our Us, and finish this Valentine’s Day with the closing stanza of my wedding vows when I did indeed marry you, not so secretly:“In the face of the sham, drudgery, and broken dreams of the past, You have made the world – my world – a beautiful place. Be we cheerful this day as we always strive to be happy. I love you Jody, my Desideratum, my desired thing Wife from this day forward.”