There was a very popular song sung back in the 1960’s by a group called The Searchers named Love Potion No. 9. It sings of a man unlucky in love who visits a gypsy for help with his loneliness. After taking the potion, he scampers around town with such passion that he kisses everyone who crosses his path, including the policeman who ultimately breaks his bottle of love-potion (The songwriters never specify whether the policeman suffers from homophobia at one end of the political spectrum or #metoo-ism at the other. How very 20th Century of them!). Love Potion No. 9 certainly was efficacious, in that it made things happen, but did it offer the desired results? I ask myself, if there is a Love Potion No. 9, then it stands to reason that there must also be, at least, potions numbered 1 through 8, as well. Perhaps, one of these potions might have been a better fit.
It occurs to me that the gypsy who tried to help this young man was as clueless about love as was he. The pre-story of the boy would seem to be that he was a “flop with chicks.” He wants to find someone who might love him, so as to make him feel more complete about himself. He has no problem desiring other people, but wonders why no one loves him. Doesn’t dosing this boy with a potion that amounts to Spanish Fly only compound his problem? Thrusting his lust upon an unrequointing society doesn’t seem to be the answer he seeks. It’s medical malpractice!
I have no desire in this post to go through all the potential effects and powers of eight different potions (Though, it might make quite a fun exercise in some future post). The potion I want to discuss is the very first one, Love Potion No. 1. Why wasn’t it the first choice to help this lovelorn young man? Might not starting from the beginning give better perspective to the situation?
So what is Love Potion No. 1? Well, it’s all in the name. It all starts with one. An ‘elixir’ that focuses its power, not on the value of love we wish to receive from someone else, but on the measured value of a love we might hold for ourselves first. Like Whitney Houston sang in a 1980’s song: “The Greatest Love of All… is Learning to Love Yourself” (It’s a shame she never understood her own words). Learning to love yourself first is a prerequisite for all other loves. To love is to value. Finding love in the person of another is a personal emotion caused by their reflection of values you hold within yourself. How can anyone reflect the highest human value within you, if within you is a pile of self-loathing, regret, narcissism and fear? Who could love these traits?
I spent many years of my youth lovelorn like the young man in the song; listening to sappy love songs (a fact many of my oldest friends are still quick to lampoon) that spoke constantly about how another person can make you feel. I kept looking outside myself for happiness and didn’t know I first needed to look within to solve my fears of failure that culminated in my overarching shyness. I had to spend years building a track record of success to achieve the efficacy needed to banish my shyness. Holding my own purpose and passion as my top value bred confidence, and little is more attractive than confidence. In fact, through all my years of searching for love, it wasn’t until I consciously realized that I loved myself and life so much, that I would be more than fine if I had to spend the rest of it by myself. It was no surprise that the love of my life showed up into it swiftly thereafter.
It takes more than confidence, though, or more likely false confidence. Don’t be fooled by others who seem to always find a way to have a date or spend little time between relationships. You all know the type of people who find value in the physical conquest of others. They are not as happy as you’d think and seek to reverse cause and effect, feeling that if they can indulge in the ends, that is passionate romantic love, then they will achieve the cause, which is high self-esteem. They are left hollow, wondering why all their many beautiful lovers will not fill that hole within them.
Love Potion No. 9 would seem a tool better used to spike the punchbowl backstage at The Victoria’s Secret Runway Show, than as a tool used to build a solid foundation for real and lasting love. Focus on Love Potion No. 1 to start. This year, choose your own self as your valentine. Take stock of, and shower yourself with gratitude for, the things you have accomplished. Come to understand that you are one of a kind and irreplaceable. Hold values that reflect self-respect and shed those that demean it. To say: “I love you,” you must first learn to say the “I.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!