Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beyond an Operator’s Manual

This last Wednesday I officiated Nad and Alex’s wedding in Koh Samui, Thailand. Here are the personal words I shared with them and their guests:

Often when one conjures the (sometimes scary) idea of a member of the clergy trying to speak words of wisdom, one expects something along the lines of the following: “The Torah/Bible/Koran/Veda says we must do X, and it being a divine ‘operators’ manual’ for how we should live our lives, must be obeyed.”

Now, frankly, I find this rather tiring. First, with so many different and contradictory “manuals”, how are we to discern what could be the right one to use? However, second, and much more fundamentally, how many of us actually find any actual operators’ manuals in real life the least bit helpful? True learning is not done through a manual. It is done through trial and error, through observation and discovery. If this is true regarding an iPad or a cell phone, how much more so regarding something as complicated as life itself.

This is why it was so refreshing to me to read the words Nad wrote me regarding her philosophy of life, “I don't believe one should live life according to how someone else says life should look like.” How simple, yet how profound! It is clear that Nad and Alex have both lived their lives in this fashion. These are good, kind, solid, and responsible individuals, who are fun to be with, and who truly enjoy life. How did they become such individuals? It was not from reading an ancient book from 3000 years ago. Rather, it was from experiencing the world, living in different cultures, speaking different languages, interacting with other people, and observing the world.

So, Nad and Alex, thank you. Thank you for exemplifying one of the best ways to live life fully, and reach true happiness. We hope and pray that the happiness you have found together, through living life to the fullest, in just this fashion, will continue to be the path you tread for the rest of your life together.

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