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Multicolored Hearts

Love can't be reduced to a single splash of red.

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It's long past time someone re-designed that tired, old Valentine's Day symbol--the red heart.

For one thing, it's been around way too long, and for another, it is a far-from-accurate representation of love. Not that I'm opposed to traditions; on the contrary, I'm a fan of those that actually stand for something. If a tradition has substance rather than mere form, it's worth keeping around forever. But red hearts remind me of Hallmark cards and boxes of second-rate candy you can pickup at Walgreens with no thought as to the quality of the chocolates they contain.

I've got no beef with hearts as symbols of love, but red hearts don't cut it. A heart that is going to accurately depict the trials of amour must be multihued for the simple reason that love is a pastiche of anguish, anger, passion, hope, bliss, despair, tenderness, rage and any other human emotion you can think of. In other words, love can't be reduced to a monochromatic splash of color.

Taking this to heart, so to speak, and with the firm belief that love comes in many colors, here then are the hues of its true palette.

Let's start with black. Black can represent the loss or heartbreak we've all experienced over the course of a relationship. But black doesn't have to be bleak; it can also depict the depth of a relationship or the most profound moments of physical connection--that cosmic oneness it's impossible to describe but which is generally absent in the absence of love, and is not the same as mind-numbing sex.

We'll need some purple. Purple's for mystery and magic. Purple is for comfortable silences and personal rituals you share only with your beloved. But purple is also for those poignant moments, mercifully fleeting, when you part for the day and wonder if you'll ever see each other again.

Then there's blue. Who can honestly say they've been in a long-term relationship that hasn't left them sad from time to time? And that sadness can stem from any number of real or imagined failings or disappointments. On the other hand, blue is also the color of a clear sky conducive to clear sailing.

There is no denying green. Unless you are blessed with a saintly disposition, green will flare up and threaten to tear you apart. Or it may just hide in the corner while you pretend to be more trusting and self-confident than you really are. Can s/he really have a close friend of the opposite gender and keep sex out of the mix? Can you really trust your mate to go to Paris on that business trip or for that conference and not get swept away by circumstances? But green is also the color of hope and healing, and all relationships need a steady infusion of both.

We'll have to include a smidgen of brown. Brown is for the down-to-earth expectations you'll have to maintain if you expect your connection to last. Brown is also for how shitty you're likely to feel during those inevitable times when even your modest expectations are dashed.

We need yellow for those occasions when you are most fearful about what's going on or what the future holds. And we also need yellow for those sunny, joyous days when everything flows perfectly and all feels right with you, your loved one and the entire world. Yellow days are treasured lifelines that connect us to the universe.

We'll also need orange, the color of some spices, to remind us of the various and delicious ways to keep a relationship fresh. The color orange also brings the fruit to mind, one that can be both sweet and tart, very much like love.

Of course, we'll need some red. Red represents those angry times (few, if we're lucky and work at it) when we're sure we hate our mate and have good reason to book with no hope of reconciliation. But it also stands for passion and bold, unfettered, spontaneous acts of affection that get your blood racing with anticipation.

Finally, white. White is for clarity, the kind of clarity that more often than not requires years of life's tumultuous, unplanned challenges to either strengthen a relationship or find it shattered like time-smoothed shards at low tide. White also stands for eternal love, love that transcends the bristles and barbs of earthly life and carries on, conquering death, connecting us to those who have moved on.

There you have it: black, purple, blue, green, brown, yellow, orange, red and white--love's ever-changing kaleidoscope.

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