Tomorrow’s the Big V-Day. We’ve been avoiding the hype a bit here by focusing less on the Hallmark-Holiday perspective and more on the idea of creating your own custom-made Lover’s Day. First we focused on you; then on the object of your affection; and last week we started to put it all together in a coherent arc for the Day Itself.
In case you’re wondering, we didn’t save the best for last. No, we did better than that: we saved the easiest for last. In other words, if you’re like most people and have been putting things off until now, the day before Valentine’s Day (and Friday the 13th, no less, blast the luck) it’s ok. You can still make it all work, by using the power of theme.
How to Get the Academy Award for Love
“As soon as I figure out the theme of my play,
I type it out in a single sentence and Scotch-tape it to the front of my typewriter.
After that, nothing goes onto the page that isn’t on-theme.”
– Paddy Chayefsky, 3-time Oscar Winner (Writing)
We’re creating a day-long performance here. If you want to make the day really stand out, follow the rule of writing great movies, and pick out a theme and make sure that everything fits into that theme. If it doesn’t fit, you don’t do it. Period. While he didn’t intend for it to apply to love, my hero Steven Pressfield put it quite well:
…it has to have a drive and a momentum that carries the audience and holds their interest all the way. A movie is like sex. It has to build to a climax and that climax has to justify all the acrobatics that went before it…Hence unity of theme. Hence no time for detours, no matter how enchanting or diverting.
This is not a saturday, a work day, a day off. This is your Lover’s Day. It is 24 hours during which you are focusing on one thing: the object of your affection. By using a theme you are able to apply an external veneer to every experience of the day and that helps you maintain the focus.
Of course, first you have to decide on the theme. One easy way to do this is to imagine an “ideal” world. What is the thing that you and your lover wish you could do all the time?
- Lego theme.
- Off-the-Grid theme.
- Pirate theme!
- Classic Jazz theme.
- Sushi theme.
- Jason Bourne theme.
See what I mean? Once you have your theme, you can start with the easy stuff: We’re going to watch all the Bourne movies!* But take it further: I’m going to make a burn-bag like they had in the movie! I’m going to learn to say “I love you” in five languages! We’re going to go to a firing range! We’re going to turn the morning commute into a rally race! Heck, it could be as easy as telling your partner you’ve lost your memory, and all you have is this wetsuit with some bullet holes in it…
If you can’t think of an “ideal” example, then you do the opposite: pick something at random. Wake your partner with a rowsing “Yee-haw!“, take them to Denny’s for a Farmer’s Grand Slam and tell them: Darling, we’re going out to a thrift store because we need to get clothes appropriate for the square dance pot luck we’re attending tonight.
As Mr. Pressfield: it’s all about the momentum. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. One of the most significant dates I ever went on – with a woman who later became my wife – consisted of an absolutely horrible meal cooked by an incompetent cook served by a rude and inattentive waiter before attending the worstcoffeehouse open-mic I’ve ever heard (and as a former music teacher, I’m very charitable). The only bright spot of the night was that my sister was playing as well – but that meant that my date also got to meet my other sister, my mother, and (coincidentally) my ex-girlfriend at the same event.
It was our second date. It was wonderful, because it had a unifying theme of What else could possibly go wrong? that got truly hilarious, and because we shared it with each other, we were the closer afterwards for the experience. In fact, that remains the longest relationship I’ve ever been in.
Just remember that you have two choices for every single thing that happens: either you cut it, or you apply the theme to it. Yes, there are always tasks that have to be done – though I recommend you think hard before assuming that something is really necessary – but they can always, either subtly or overtly, be brought into the theme.
At the end of the day, your lover will be amazed either at the results, at the effort, or (best case) both. Creating a love-filled life is not a skill we’re born with; begin to flex those muscles carefully, and be charitable with your missteps, and remember that unlike V-day, you can decide to create a Lover’s Day anytime you wish.
What are you waiting for?