Stand In A Greater Story [on not-so-flawed Wednesday]

WeddingBoots copy

Three years ago today Kerri and I were married. It was the single best day of my life. We were married on 10/10 and the ceremony began at 11:11 exactly. Our friends tease that the reception started, not mysteriously, at 12:12.

The great advantage of a second marriage is that you feel no obligation to meet expectations or obey any “should-dos.” It was a blue jeans wedding. We wore black (like we do every other day of the week) and matching Frye Boots. Our ceremony was a storytelling. Kerri wrote a song for me. There were lots of hugs. A ukulele band played us out and we spontaneously skipped down the aisle just like we’d skipped out of the airport on the day we met.

At the reception (12:12 on the dot) we had a food truck serving burgers and sweet potato fries. There’s a back story to burgers and fries but I’ll save that for another day. It’s enough to note that the food truck wasn’t a random idea but part of a greater story – as with everything we planned for our passage ritual into togetherness. We had Yamaha’s daisy cupcakes and MaryKay’s brownies. We had hula-hoops and kick balls. We danced until after dark and moved to the beach for a bonfire. So many special people came from all over the country to celebrate with us. A legion of friends and family helped us make it happen; our wedding was (and still is) the love equivalent of a barn raising.

A greater story. Second chances do happen. Broken roads sometimes lead to vibrant gardens rich with lessons, endless appreciation of the small things, and a sense of utter amazement that this is where life brought me. Brought us. I was wrong to write that 10/10/15 was the best day of my life. In truth, it marked the source of a river of best days. Each an anniversary, a day of life in the story of ‘us,’ a greater story.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FRYE BOOTS ON A RED CARPET

 

wedding pic with website copy

 

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Let’s Be Us

a detail from my painting, May You Be

a detail from my painting, May You Be

[continued from Put Down The Hammer]

It is night and I am sitting alone in the sanctuary. I’ve been setting up chairs for a performance and now that the job is complete I’m taking a moment to savor the silence and review this day.

The temperatures have been unseasonably warm and when I opened the back door this morning for Tripper Dog-Dog-Dog I was greeted by the sound of birds singing. It was an April sound in the middle of December. I was so taken by the sound that I called Kerri, “Come and listen to this!” We stood in the doorway for many minutes. It was beautiful as well as a little disconcerting. “El NiƱo or global warming?” I asked.

Arnie wrote a comment to my last post. He asked: Can it be that we don’t want the ‘we’ in our society – we aren’t comfortable with the ‘we’ and only feel our identity by living out the “us and them”? I am an idealist but, of course, he is right. David Berreby wrote a terrific book called, Us and Them. We are hardwired to perceive the world through a lens of Us and Them. It’s a survival imperative to distinguish between friend and foe. However, a point that is most salient to me: the delineation of Us is mutable. It is not a fixed state but largely circumstantial. That is especially true in this modern age. There is an out of fashion phrase used to describe these United States: a melting pot. There could not be a better metaphor for an ever fluid definition of US. We need not melt but we do need to acknowledge that we are in the same pot. “Give us your tired, your hungry, your poor,…” is central to our national identity (not always central to our national rhetoric) and is a sacred, central statement of an ever-changing US.

We are among the first humans in history to have the pleasure of seeing our planet Earth from space and, as it has been said, from space there are no visible borders. The definition of US depends upon how far out we pull the camera. From space WE are the human race. There are a bevy of alien invasion movies that carry a common theme: when attacked WE inhabitants of Earth will pull together. Or, said another way, until there is a THEM that invades from another planet, WE will be incapable of recognizing full inclusion in the Earth pot.

To Arnie’s point, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with WE. A few months ago, Kerri and I were in Chicago for the day and passed a homeless man, holding a filthy cardboard sign asking for help. He was young, in his early 20’s, and more filthy than his sign. He was suffering. We walked by him. On the train home we had a long conversation about our responsibility to that young man or to any member of our community that is suffering. Many years ago I was with a student group in Bali. We were invited to Udayana University and one member of our group gave a talk about homelessness in America. Our Balinese hosts were shocked. “How could a member of your community be without a home?” they asked. The concept was abhorrent to them, unthinkable. “You are the wealthiest people on Earth…,” they stammered. Later, a Balinese professor said to me, “When you came here today, we wanted to be like you Americans. As you leave, we are proud to be Balinese.”

Us. Them. We. Like me. Not like me. Me. Little words with far-reaching impact. I am not the same person I was only a few years ago. I find it infinitely hopeful – especially now – that, just like me, the delineation of US is mutable, ever changing. It begs the question, Who are WE? And, to another of Arnie’s points, the answer to the question depends upon where we decide to place our focus.