One of the first things we try to instill in our children is the concept of sharing, the giving of ourselves in order to better the lives of others. This concept is at the core of nearly all human interaction, whether the intimacy of lovers, the companionship of friends, or the mentoring of parent to child. We share our love, talents, and time and in return get to share in the love, talents and time of others. Without sharing, we stand in isolation.
Last March I was walking across campus with my camera, and stopped to photograph a Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) that grows outside the University of Illinois Observatory. Resting in a heart-shaped knot on one of the branches were two lady beetles. I was immediately struck by the analogy to our human lives, how we must make room to allow others into our hearts in order to share our lives with them.
As Valentine’s Day dawns this year, this photographic metaphor of two lives sharing one heart is prominent in my mind. In spite all of the stress and anxiety surrounding this over-commercialized holiday, for me Valentine’s Day is an annual checkup of sorts. It is a day when I can ask myself if I am truly sharing my life, rather than just taking what others have to offer. It is a day when I take stock of myself as partner, as friend, as father, as brother, and as son. It is a day when I remember that the human heart seems boundless, as long as we make room for those we love.
I wish each and every one of you a Happy Valentine’s Day.