Archive for May, 2014

A wedding wish

A short time ago I went to a wedding. In New York. It was my late Aunty’s eldest sons son’s wedding and it was amazing. Yes the setting, the scenery, the people, it was truly a great occasion. In the weeks leading up to it, I wondered what if anything I would say should I be asked to speak. Of course I wasn’t expecting to be asked to speak nor would I ask, but I wrote my thoughts down in the form of a letter and presented it to the bride and groom on the day. This is the letter.

 

Dear Matt and Mansi,

If it truly is the case that you need too, I hope you will forgive me for this letter, but as time has been passing in the months leading up to your wedding, thoughts hopes and wishes have been going through my mind and I wanted to take the opportunity of expressing them to you both. I hope you will look kindly on them.

But first, I understand from scientific research that the attention span of a reader begins to deteriorate around about the seventeen minute mark, therefore I am sure you will be relieved to know that I have managed to pare this piece down to just under fifteen and a half. (Just kidding!)

Thank you for your invitation, it was an honour and a privilege to be asked to witness the celebration of your vows and it gave me the opportunity to be re-united with relatives near and far and the pleasure of meeting and making the acquaintance of your friends and family. Occasions like this only come around once in a lifetime and I would not have missed this opportunity for all the tea in China, or indeed, all the tea in Boston Harbour.

What a beautiful and enthralling ceremony it was and if I were to take some distinctly bad poetic licence, I would say that the Botanic Gardens shone like a diamond, held in place and surrounded by the band of gold that is Brooklyn and New York.

I could not possibly write this without mentioning absent friends. I am sure I was not alone in celebrating the occasion we were witness too but also in remembering and honouring the memories of loved ones who could not be there and without whom none of this would have been possible. Loved ones that is, wherever they may be.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking how easily we fool ourselves in believing we are always in control of our lives and indeed that is what we strive for in earnest, when in fact the reality is that for all our determined efforts there is sometimes a will and a force at work, mysterious and invisible, which brings into our lives certain people and certain moments which will change our own lives forever. As a certain gentleman who once lived in the great city of New York once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. A certain Mr. Lennon I believe.

To use a quote from a writer, Steven Pressfield, who on talking about writing and being touched by angels and muses, said, “They know stuff we don’t. They want to help us. They’re on the other side of a pane of glass, shouting to get our attention. But we can’t hear them. We’re sometimes just too distracted by our own nonsense”.

Well, I’m quite certain that the only nonsense you’ll read today is from my hand, but if any words sprang to mind on your wedding day and there were many to chose from, perhaps ‘Carpe Diem’ – ‘Seize the day’ would be as equally appropriate as any and that we are always striving as Abraham Lincoln said, to get in touch with ‘the better angels of our nature’. Striving, failing often and yet still we try.

Some people may think that being a man approaching a certain landmark age I would be able to write with authority, experience, wit and wisdom.

Which just goes to show how wrong some folks can be!

I have heard that it is often incumbent on invited guests to offer up a little wisdom to those getting married and taking this huge step in their lives, but I could not be so presumptuous as I am certain that on your special day, within the Botanic Gardens, all the wisdom that you will ever need resided there, not least, the wisdom which you both carry individually and as a couple within your relationship.

A relationship which undoubtedly counters the ancient Greek myth which told of a time when humans were originally created with 4 arms, 4 legs and a head with 2 faces. Fearing the power of humans, the mighty God Zeus split them into two separate parts, thereby condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.

It is quite obvious to me that your two halves are seamlessly joined and that today Zeus himself wears a frown.

Thinking of two halves joining makes me reflect on just how big a commitment it is to lay down your own self for that of another in search of that most elusive of creatures, a lifetimes relationship and to contemplate on just what infinitely complex creatures we are and given that our brains contain approximately 456 trillion trillion atoms, it beggars belief that we can begin to understand and communicate with each other at all, let alone live largely in peaceful co-existence.

This infinite complexity may also of course throw some light on explaining the incredibly slow machinations of Congress, politicians in general and the interminable wait at the food store checkout whilst the checkout girl re-lipsticks herself, adjusts her skirt appropriately coz of the gorgeous guy she has a crush on waiting behind you, finishes her conversation with her new ‘girlfriend’ and checks her new Miley Cyrus, slimline, 24 gigabite mobile phone for the latest gossip and whoever is ‘twerking’ on TV.

As for my own wisdom, well, I was married once. I was quite young and naïve and I was dragged kicking and screaming into marriage. My wife did the kicking…….

Coming up to date, whilst I was in New York I took the opportunity of strolling around Brooklyn and by sheer chance I bumped into a Priest. A wise man. Two more of these guys I thought and I’ve got a great story on my hands.

I said to the Priest, “Father, would you be willing to offer me some wisdom to pass on to a young couple getting married”.

He looked Heavenwards, stroked his chin, then grabbed me by the shoulder, looked me square in the eye and said,

Son, marriage is rather like a deck of playing cards”.

Really Father”, I said, “How so?”

Well in the beginning”, he said, “All it takes is two hearts and a diamond, but during the course of a long long marriage, almost certainly there will be times when either one of you wishes you had a club and a spade”.

With that, I quickly retired to the safety of the Internet.

I entered ‘self-help and marriage’ into Amazon and holy moly, a total of 491 796 items came up. When I entered ‘self-help’ books for women, it gave me 12 030 entries. Interestingly when I entered ‘self-help’ books for men, 5 677 came up. Make of that what you will.

When I entered books on the subject of marriage alone, 144 797 entries came up. Some of the less racy but nevertheless thought provoking titles being;

There’s more to life than cupcakes”.

Saving your marriage before it starts”.

How to re-model your man: Tips and techniques on accomplishing something you know is impossible but want to try anyway”. And that perennial sexist and stereotypical favourite;

Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps”.

So as far as my search for wisdom went, I saw no solution in books, after all, which one to choose, who wrote it and what were their qualifications?

Soon after I was flicking through the TV channels and a film began, a ROM-COM. “Sleepless in Seattle” and from that film echoed the words of that great sage of wisdom, that shaman of the silver screen, that wise man of wisdom who truly had a nose for all things wide….sorry, wise, Mr. Jimmy ‘Schnozzle’ Durante, who sang in grizzly tones these immortal words.

It’s so important to make someone happy

Make just one someone happy

Make just one heart the heart you, sing to.

One smile that cheers you,

One face that lights when it nears you,

One girl you’re everything to.

Fame if you win it,

Comes and goes in a minute.

Where’s the real stuff in life to cling to?

Love is the answer.

Someone to love is the answer.

Once you’ve found her, build your world around her.

Make someone happy,

Make just one someone happy,

And you will be happy, too.”

Well it’s a wonderful film, a great song and it certainly contains wise words, but I would hate to be the person responsible for Mansi sitting bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night, elbowing Matt sharply in the ribs and exclaiming in a gravelly Brooklyn accent, “Y’know Matt, it’s so important to make someone happy”.

So in my search for wisdom I realised I needed something a little more down to earth, which was when I found myself perusing the ‘self-help’ section of a book store and when a well-meaning assistant approached me.

Hello sir, I can see you look like a man who needs help”.

Well yes”, I said sheepishly, “You see, I have this FRIEND”.

Oh yes”, she said, winking suggestively, “and this FRIEND needs some help does he?”

Yes”, I said, “This FRIEND is looking for some wise words on the the subject of marriage”.

She pointed me in the direction of a particular book which had within its pages interesting advice about how men and women should react to a husband or wife returning home after a particularly difficult day at the office. It went like this;

When a woman comes home and starts to unfold her terrible day to her beloved partner, a man, being a ‘fixer’, tends to want to solve all her problems for her. So he starts to suggest how she should deal with all this stuff that’s got her down. But be warned! This is not the case.

What a woman wants is for someone to listen to her and if she wanted help, she would ask for it. If she wanted solutions, she would ask for them. If she wanted the answer as to whether or not she should change her job, change the way she does things, change the way her boss does things, change her boss, change the whole damn company or simply change her clothes; She will talk to her girlfriends!

No, what she wants is simply to be listened too, given a hug, told she is the most wonderful woman in the world and that you love her.”

So, that us guys told then!

Now for advice on what to do when a man comes home after a bad day at the office. This could run for a couple of chapters I thought.

Do nothing.”

Do nothing?

Yes. Do nothing. Nothing except get him a beer, let him sit down in front of his favourite TV programme and let him chill out for about half an hour.

And that’s it. You see deep down we are still prehistoric cavemen, cavemen coming home after the long unfruitful hunt and we need our cave to sit in and shut the world out. That’s how we deal with stuff. It’s that simple. And it’s that simple because…..well because……..men are pretty simple!”

Sound advice no doubt, but I wanted something in a word, a sentence at most and I couldn’t see it happening and so I gave up and of course what often happens in life when you stop looking for something is, you find it. Or rather, it finds you.

At the end of an internet broadcast by a mentor on the subject of mindfulness, the speaker used a word to close his address with.

Whether we have had the best day of our lives or the worst day of our lives, perhaps if we are able to simply look at each other and say, whisper under our breath or just meditate on this one word, then all of lifes woes, problems and pettiness will simply fall away and we will remember why we are here, why we are with this person we love and chose and everything falls back into place once again;

‘Namaste’; an ancient Sanskrit greeting which means “I bow to the God within you” or “The spirit within me salutes the spirit within you”, or even, “I see the true you and I let you see me”.

‘Namaste’; a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.

‘Namaste’; sometimes accompanied with both palms pressed together in prayer and swept down from the forehead to the heart.

And so Matt and Mansi, I say ‘Namaste’.

 

 

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