And of course, I’m feeling all the feelings: Nervous, excited, blessed, scared, lucky, anxious, overwhelmed, vulnerable, proud, happy. Even a little resentful of losing my freedom.
Mostly, though, what I feel is that this is where and when and how and who I’m supposed to be right now. And this is right. This is good.
The calendar tells me I’m somewhere toward the beginning of the second half of my life. And having reached this point, surviving along the way more than a few heartaches, I’ve learned something that’s true about relationships. I’ve also learned something that’s true about the universe. It’s the same thing:
We live in a universe of duality that’s constantly seeking unity.
When I was a kid growing up in the late 1970s, roller skating was popular. Sometimes on Friday nights, I’d go to the roller rink by myself. I may or may not have seen my friends there, but I relished the feel of skating by myself. The speed, the rhythm, the physical motion were exhilarating.
I was a better-than-average skater and I was fast. I learned that, to maintain my speed, I had to look ahead and find openings to move through. I had to continually adjust my direction and velocity to avoid knocking down children, to move around the couples holding hands, to slip between people moving at different speeds, all as the whole mass of us moved around the room in a giant circle.
I was finding my individual path while moving with a mass of rotating people.
In life, we are individuals finding our own way while also participating in a circulating dance of human movement. We move both individually and as a unified one.
And yet we’re told in the Bible and by modern culture that we get married to lose our oneness and identity, to become one flesh, to merge with another in blissful, eternal union.
But that’s a lie. Or at best it’s only a partial truth.
Trying to lose our identities in search of eternal happiness with another is fruitless. We should get married not to lose ourselves, but as one more step toward becoming whole individuals. In marriage, we are on separate, dual paths with a unified purpose. And if we do it right, rather than losing ourselves, we begin to find ourselves.
It took me a long time to begin to understand my dual paths. But when I finally began to see myself in both my individual wholeness AND my oneness with others, that’s when I began to wake up.
I’m a separate human who is choosing to unite with another human. She happens to be an amazing human. She’s smart and beautiful and strong and courageous and caring and funny and kind and generally a remarkable person. I’m a lucky, lucky guy.
She’s also flawed like I am. We are two imperfect people choosing to walk a path side by side. Together we’re choosing to unite as separate selves who are circulating together in constant motion.
Tomorrow I’m going to read a few words during our brief ceremony. I’m grateful to Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh for this beautiful, simple poem. (And I’m hoping I can make it through reading it aloud without bawling like a baby, but the odds aren’t good.)
“Walking Meditation” – by Thich Nhat Hanh
Take my hand
We will walk
We will only walk
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere
Our walk is a peace walk
Our walk is a happiness walk
Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk
We walk for ourselves
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand
Walk and touch peace every moment
Walk and touch happiness every moment
Each step brings a fresh breeze
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet
Kiss the Earth with your feet
Print on Earth your love and happiness
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety
– From Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh
We are individuals, Linda and I, with inherent beauty and purpose, and we will be walking together on dual journeys, hand in hand, seeking unity.
And this is right. This is good.