A time of year to take great risk of falling in love

Over 60

In the heart of London’s Piccadilly Circus is a fountain topped by a beautiful winged archer, balanced on one foot, about to shoot an arrow of love. He is Eros, behind each expression of love orIginated by Saint Valentine — a fifth century Christian and martyr — whose day is celebrated the world over, from here to Japan to Australia and beyond.

An estimated 144 valentine cards were exchanged this week, and along with the ubiquitous Hallmark tokens of love, we’ve garnered mementos from the most celebrated writers inhistory, from Shakespeare, who alone wrote 154 love sonnets, to the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, love speaks of its enduring power across the ages:

“My love is as deep as the sea; the more I give thee, the more I have.” — Shakespeare

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” — Aristotle

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Lao Tzu

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Love does not dominate; it cultivates.” — Goethe

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” — Zora Neale Hurston

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.” — Thoreau

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you because I know no other way than this: where ‘I’ does not exist nor ‘you’, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.” — Neruda

Not all of us have the power to express ourselves so eloquently, and so we resort to more facetious expressions:

“All you need is love, but a little chocolate now & then doesn’t hurt.” — Charles Schulz

“I love being married; it’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” — Rita Rudner

“To love oneself is the winning of a lifelong romance.” — Oscar Wilde

“Love is a grave mental disease.” — Plato

We know that love touches all ages and in a great variety of ways, and it usually exposes the differences between men and women.

For example, when a love relationship ends, a woman will cry and pour her heart out to her girlfriends, and she will write a poem titled “All Men are Idiots.” Then she will get on with her life. But a man has a little more trouble letting go. Six months after the breakup, at 3 a.m. on a Saturday night, he will phone to say, “I just called to let you now you’ve ruined my life, and I’ll never forgive you, and I hate you, and you’re a total floozy. But I want you to know that there’s always a chance for us.”

We could learn a lot about love from someone like the famed Dalai Lama, who once said, “Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.”

And, anonymously, “A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.”

And, “In disagreement with loved ones, deal only with the current situation; don’t bring up the past.”

And, “Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”

And, finally, “Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.”

As for those Valentine Day greeting cards, try to be creative; look for something tacky and cynical, but unique:

“I’ve always wanted to have someone to hold, someone to love; but after having met you, I’ve changed my mind.”

“Looking back over the years that we’ve been together, I can’t help but wonder what the heck was I thinking?”

“As the days go by, I think of how lucky I am that you’re not here to ruin it for me.”

“I always wanted to be rich, powerful, and well respected. And while I’m dreaming, I wish you weren’t so darn ugly.”

But sooner or later, at a time like this, we can always turn to the great Lebanese philosopher and poet Kahlil Gibran for his inspiring words: “Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: to melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love. And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”

And one final thing: ballets are nearly always comprised of love tales; there is at the Rozsa tonight a ballet comprised entirely of men in both gender roles to end all ballets — beautiful, tender, and screamingly outrageous — a perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day a couple of days late.