By Axie Barclay

I try to live my life where I end up at a point where I have no regrets. So I try to choose the road that I have the most passion on because then you can never really blame yourself for making the wrong choices. You can always say you’re following your passion.
–Darren Aronofsky

Do it no matter what. If you believe in it, it is something very honorable. If somebody around you or your family does not understand it, then that’s their problem. But if you do have a passion, an honest passion, just do it.
–Mario Andretti

Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a Swiss farm, and live entirely surrounded by cows – and china.
–Charles Dickens

Just as the month of December is indelibly linked with Santa and snow, February instantly conjurors horrors of roses and one lonely night spent drinking warm champagne alone in an empty bathtub. But, love it or hate it, the sacred Hallmark day of hearts and roses comes every year, and whether you’re waiting for Cupid with a .45 or a glimmer in your eye for that someone special, you can’t change the fact that Valentine’s Day happens every year. But you can change your perspective about it. So the real thing to take away from this Valentine’s Day is that romantic love, for all the attention slathered on it, is not, I repeat, not, the point. Passion is.

Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.
–Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

The word passion, according to, first came into use between 1125 and 1175 AD. It began as a Middle English word, stemming from the Old French and Medieval Latin passiōn, referring to suffering and submission, specifically Christ and his suffering on the cross. Passion refers to any powerful or compelling emotion, usually with the extremes of love and hate used as examples. The secondary and tertiary meanings begin to refer to passion as amorous, but really, in the primary usage, passion refers to fervor rather than lust, and can just as easily refer to rage as it can to affection.
Likewise, the modern association between Valentine’s Day and the trappings of romantic love is also medieval in origin. Blame Chaucer and the French troubadours, fluting their way through the European courts with their ballads celebrating courtly love. Prior to this, St. Valentine’s Day was a day marking gruesome deaths of early Christian martyrs. Cheery. But thanks to a little old-fashioned commercialism and the chocolate industry, we now have to fend off annoying jewelry ads and partake in half-off all the pink crap post-Valentine’s sales instead of fending off branding irons and being drawn and quartered.
In this age of commercialism it’s easier to loathe the onslaught of hearts and Cupids and repine at being alone on the day, rather than use it in a more positive capacity. If you have someone to share the day with, rather than pout that they gave you yet another box of chocolates instead of the more coveted diamond earrings, use the day to remember what you love about each other, and what brought you together in the first place. How she crinkles her nose, how he kisses your neck, all the stupid little annoying personal couple-y things that are easy to take for granted in the daily grind of busy nothings. (And likewise, if you can’t remember any of these things, it might be time to start doing some reevaluating of a different sort…)

Honest criticism means nothing: what one wants is unrestrained passion, fire for fire.
–Henry Miller

If your V-Day leanings tend more toward thinking pink is a mental disease and flowers are for phonies, reevaluating your mindset becomes even more important. You get back the energy you put out into the world, and if all is negative, all you get back is negative. Instead, try for passion, and it doesn’t have to be for another person. Rediscover a hobby or an author you haven’t visited in a while. Cancel the date with Netflix and take some time to scrapbook or weave used garden hoses into swans, whatever blows your skirt up. Romantic love is all very well, but you have to have passion for what you do and be good with whom and what you are before anyone else will be interested. You have to validate yourself, rather than depend on someone else to do it for you.

Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.
–Henri Frederic Amiel

Couple or single on V-Day, an excellent book for all that illustrates being content with yourself is Always Hit on the Wingman… and 9 Other Secret Rules for Getting the Love Life You Want by Glamour magazine’s dating columnist, Jake. While ostensibly having to do with relationships, Jake’s wisdom empowers woman, and men, about becoming better human beings in general, not just for the sake of their dating life. According to Jake, you already have the power to make your dreams reality. What you have to learn is how to use them to follow your passion, be that a relationship or being the best dang toe-accordion player the world has ever seen. My great-grandpa told my dad and my dad told me, no one will ever watch out for you in the world except you. That includes being responsible for your own happiness. And pursuit of happiness is a passion all its own.

Be Powerful.
Be Compelling.
Be Happy.
And, to paraphrase Gandhi, Be the change you want to see in the world.
–Axie Barclay

To my someone special this V-Day: We’re celebrating something very special and very new. It’s a latent force, a spark. Fire for fire. In you, in your eyes, each emerging from a hopeless place, we’ve found a passion, a potential, never expected. A thousand and a hundred score, a hundred and a thousand more.
Happy Valentine’s.

Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth in alternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.