Following is a chapter in my forthcoming non-fiction book That Think You Do. The book is based on a series of blog posts I wrote back in the mid-to-late-2000s for a California-based company. The editor at my new publishing house found the posts and thought they would make an excellent series of books. The posts/chapters are based on my research in a variety of fields – neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics, … – and were quite popular in their day. As an update to the story below, we just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary, having been together now for 44 years.
Susan, my wife, partner, all things known and unknown and I are coming on our 25th wedding anniversary, having been together for 31 years. I wrote our wedding vows:
I can not promise you fidelity, sanity, health, hope, love, comfort, or joy. All I can promise is that I will change. Not all my changes will be good. I ask God’s help that not all will be bad.
I ask you today to be with me in my changes, to tell me when I am foolish, to heal me when I am sick, to love me when I forget to love, to give me hope when I have none to give, to give me comfort when I am cold and alone, to give me joy when all I know is sadness.
Stand with me the rest of my days. I have asked you to do this. I ask you again, here, before our friends and families.
It is said before others, but the words are for you. I love you.
Nobody in the audience knew what the vows would be, not even the minister. People knew I’d written them and everyone assumed they’d be whimsical if not funny. I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve asked for copies of our vows since then.
What is saddest is that of the 80 couples who attended (and barring deaths) only two couples remain as couples. Death took only two other couples.
Why did we last as a couple? Perhaps because we defined our relationship from the beginning by the changes we would go through – both known and unknown – and recognizing that nothing is static, everything evolves.
Study change, study evolution, and you learn that nature preserves balance of the whole at great cost. Nature reshapes oceans and continents, moves galaxies and suns, creates light and darkness in equal measure, and always keeps itself in balance, a mobile of eternity sent singing a balance of harmonies by the winds of change.
Isn’t it then a demonstration of whatever gods one honors to give the Universe rest by keeping oneself in as much balance as possible?
Want to know how to weather the times, economic upheavals, business successes and failures, the birth of a child, and the loss of a friend? Keep yourself in balance first with yourself and then with the world around you. Spend as much time fostering yourself as you do others, and give as much time to others as you do yourself. Your world can change in less than a heartbeat so do joy whenever you can. The world will take care of bringing you sorrow when you least expect it.
The bad news is that keeping yourself in balance is in itself a full-time job. It is what you were really born to do. Get used to it. Recognize it. Do it. The good news is that making keeping yourself in balance your full-time job means everything else falls into place faster than you can imagine, in less than a heartbeat, when you least expect it, so take joy in it.
I would appreciate not only your comments, below but hearing from you directly reach if you’re interested in receiving an Advance Readers’ Copy, as I am seeking testimonials, endorsements, reviews, back cover copy, testimonials, etc. to help promote my book following release.