Commentary Jamaica Magazine

A Valentine Tribute to Love

Written by Devon Harris

For as long as I can remember I’ve been in love with love. My earliest recollection of what I had deemed to be the embodiment of love was watching my parents slow dance every Valentines Day while the soulful voices of greats such as Percy Sledge, Smokey Robinson or (be still my heart) Marvin Gaye, blared throughout the house. They would dance for what seem like hours and in the end he would always present her with a box of chocolates and a kiss. Years later she confided in me that even though she enjoyed receiving the chocolates, what she looked forward to the most, was the kiss.

I knew what love is supposed to be like from observing my parents and their apparent affection for each other, even during the difficult periods of their marriage. I learned that love wasn’t what the story books tell us it’s going to be- handsome prince rides up on perfunctory white horse, etcetera etcetera etcetera… I am sure everyone knows the chorus to that song. From watching them, I understood that love meant having someone who took the time to spoon all the red peas out of your rice and pea’s dinner simply because you said they had begun to make you too gassy. It meant going to the hospital before dawn every morning after your wife delivered your child in order to see to her needs yourself because her nurse was not quite as gentle as you felt she ought to be. It meant laughing at stupid jokes even when you knew they were stupid; or unwavering patience and understanding when you spent a little too long down at Fatty’s Bar with your cronies after work. They taught me that love means knowing when to hold on tighter and also when to let go; that good love is always worth waiting for and fighting for; and most importantly, that without self love you can never find true love.

I am sure many of you have had your fill of the Bounty Killah, D’Angel, Beenie Man triad. How could you not? It was the subject of approximately fifteen different re-mixes and continues to be a hot topic in almost every hair salon, barbershop, backroom boutique or carwash Jamaicans frequent. (If you have been living under a rock and have no idea what I’m referring to, please send me an email. I’ll fill you in later). What continued to seize my attention was watching the lengths these men went to, all while vying for the consideration of this woman. I haven’t seen anything like it since Anthony, Cesar and Cleopatra. King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot were transformed into a modern day King Beenie, Angel and the Warlord, complete with prose and sonnets of love set to music, (albeit rump shaking reggae). It involved battles between factions that unfortunately no longer partake of sabers and swords, but guns and bullet proof vests.

One thing remained the same, the aura of self-righteous honor that permeated the series of events and the grand gala of a wedding that always takes place in stories such as this.

The perverse romantic in me was somehow always a little wistful in knowing that two self proclaimed “Bad Men” can still get caught up in the throws of love. The realistic romantic in me realizes that it all goes to illustrate another important lesson learned: Love can sometimes bring out the absolute best or worst in a person.

In honor of all my fellow hopeless romantics, here is an Ode to a Kiss…

Hot, sultry August kisses
Deep, dark moonlit kisses,
Sweet, gardenia and honey kisses
Breezy, butterfly, sunny kisses.

Soft, silk and feather kisses,
For worse or better kisses
Stay with me forever kisses
Ten thousand wishes kisses.

Strawberries and cream kisses,
Hot wax and steam kisses,
Invade my dreams kisses,
Kisses…

Happy Valentine’s Day

About the author

Devon Harris

Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.