Is love a canvas furnished by nature?
Posted on February 13th, 2012

Dr.Tilak FernandoƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

Love is a strange phenomenon. Like wind, which is not visible to the human eye, it can be felt. These two marvels have very much in common and have relative effects when they react on human beings. A cool breeze cools the body and calms the mind. On the contrary, turbulent whirlwinds can ruffle and bring about drastic effects.

Opinions on Love vary from parental, brotherly/sisterly, patriotic, spiritual, carnal and love for animals/pets. Love has no boundaries, no limits and no hatred. All religions advise people to love others; they do indeed depending on their personal point of view.

Eminent personalities have come out with various definitions on love. Rabindranath Tagore found it comfortable to analyse the issue by stating: “I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever.”

Henry Van Dyke in a slightly different version quoted: “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity”.

On a spiritual dimension, Victor Hugo’s “reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a single being even to God, is love.”

Philosophically expressing Henry Miller said: “The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love”.

Charles Dickens in his own literal panache articulated that to love means “having a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts”, whereas Goethe opined, “Love as an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished”. So all in all, “Is Love a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination,” as Voltaire put it?


Can the real nature of love be pinned down to anything one can learn out of two romantic lines in a greeting card? Can love be explained or analysed under a microscope? We may use all the talents and charms in the world and spend hours on end pondering over the philosophical nature of this magic human reaction, yet we all fail to agree upon uniquely being individuals who experience love differently and indeed having numerous ways of showing it.

Valentine mythology

Genuine love demands no ethnicity or age. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and keeps no record of when it has been wronged. Love never gives up, never loses faith, but always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

In modem times February 14 is regarded as Lovers’ Day or Valentine’s Day which is very much associated with mutual exchange of love notes in the form of greeting cards symbolising heart-shaped outline with the figure of Cupid. Cupid is regarded as Aphrodite’s son Eros who resembles a child-like winged deity in Greek Mythology.

Valentine’s Day has many connotations. One belief is that St. Valentine was a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. The fable also verbalises that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter signing on it as, “from Your Valentine”.

Other aspects of the narrative pronounce that St. Valentine served as a Priest at the Temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius and, in 496 AD, he was jailed for defiance. Later Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 as a day of commemoration for St. Valentine.

Another widespread old legend is that young women in the city used to place their names in a big urn on February 14 when eligible bachelors picked names out of the pot to become paired with the chosen woman for one year. In most cases such couples often ended up in matrimony.

By the middle of the 18th century it became a common denominator for friends and lovers in all social strata to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. With the advancement of printing technology by the end of the century, greeting cards replaced the original handwritten letters which extended one’s feelings and emotions.

It is estimated that over a billion Valentine cards exchange hands on a single day in each year throughout the world making the post offices and greeting card manufacturers richer because people spend even more money to avoid feeling disappointed, inadequate or insecure.

Some may decide to send Valentine cards to secret admirers anonymously. Couldn’t it then turn into a sad affair and become illuminating proof of flashing a shiny heart in a greeting card right in the recipient’s face, and the whole scheme becoming a big money making con wrapped up in glossy paper?


We all are basically human beings and no one can deny the fact that we all enjoy an overdose of sycophancy from time to time, and indulge in mythical daydreams. We may try to be ebullient on this special day being showered with romantic cards, bouquets of red roses, or a single rose, boxes of chocolate or going to four star hotels or up market restaurants to spend a fortune on eating out and getting drunk like fish with Gal, Pol, Wine, Bloody Mary, Screw Driver or Shiva’s Regal.

For a different kind of Valentine, it could be yet another occasion to hit a dance floor, on the premise of Valentine’s Day, and enjoy a bit of pelvic thrust in romantic dim light and say it is just what the Cupid ordered!

But let’s be realistic and if anyone is induced to rely on a single day of the year to feel that ‘love is in the air’ momentarily and can live ‘happily ever after’ then one could be far way off the track in reality.

One Response to “Is love a canvas furnished by nature?”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Do the west and east have different concepts of the word ‘love’ ? Love in the west is often thought of as ‘falling in love’ for young lovers, or even lust as love, Romeo & Juliet as tragic love, etc. and ending in old peoples’ love as one that endures through pain & illness. In Lanka, I think ‘love’ (aadara) is enduring affection and care for another, with less emphasis on the physical side of ‘love’. I may be wrong here. If so, feel free to give correct version.

    Certainly, all over the world, where one loves, one sees little or no faults. Also, I think ‘love’ and ‘lust’ are poles apart. The first endures and the latter transitory & purely physical. In the west, lust or another sensorial pleasure is often worded as love, such as when people say “I have fallen in love” or “I love my food”, “I love my work”, “I love flowers” etc. So love may be an oft misunderstood word ….

    Our thanks to Dr Fernando for writing on interesting topics.

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