Saturday, October 11, 2014

I Know How Lucky I Am to Have You

Yesterday (10/10) I officiated Mariella and Josh’s wedding ceremony at Maison Dupuy, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One of the first things Mariella and Josh told me was that they wanted their wedding to be personalized and meaningful, and a celebration of them, their family and friends coming together. That is fairly standard. However, they also wanted their ceremony to have a particular emphasis on books and nature as the things that brought them together, and still play a central role in in their togetherness. Not that standard, however, anyone who knows Mariella and Josh, will not be surprised by this at all.
Not surprisingly, how they met is both connected to books and reads like a short story. Here is how Mariella recounts it: “Josh and I met on the blue line train in Chicago. I have been riding this train for 15 years. One day this cute guy sits next to me on the train. I am usually focused on my book, and don't pay attention to my surroundings. But he sits next to me and pulls out a book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is this amazing historical fantasy about a magician and his protégé, where magic is actually a line of work. It is one of my favorite books, and I was so surprised that this guy in a suit would pull it out. Not exactly the Wall Street Journal. So I just casually said, "That is a really good book, you're going to like it," and… then we talked about Neil Gaiman, whose book I was reading, sort of the same genre, and we started talking about our favorite books. And then he let it drop that he was a writer, and I am too. It was kismet…” As Josh says, in what almost reads like the sub heading of a review of the story: “How’s that for the beginning of a love story?”
Though, “kismet” a Turkish word, derived from the Arabic word “qisma”, which means lot, is taken to mean fate or something preordained, Mariella probably used the word colloquially, not literally. Even so, listen to Josh, a staunch rationalist: “I can’t account exactly for why I was where I was when I met Mariella.” Mysterious, huh?
This reminded me of one of the most beautiful book passages I know in a book about Mariella and Josh’s other shared love, nature, “Unweaving the Rainbow”, by Richard Dawkins. In a scientific tome, you do not expect to find words that read like poetry, but here you are. Mariella and Josh marvel at the good fortune of them, against great statistical odds of the Chicago Transit Authority, having met. Dawkins marvels at each one of us even coming into existence against much greater odds:  “The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds…”
So, when you incorporate what Dawkins says and what Mariella and Josh say, you arrive at a fascinating idea: When you find that one person that you love, that one person, who in our groom’s words gives you, “woozy magic of the stomach and heart,” and who you also know as our bride says, will love you more than anyone else ever could – then you have won. Having won Dawkins’ lottery of nature, you have now won a second lottery – the lottery of the heart.
That can allow you to embody the words of a song that I was reminded of, when I thought about the wonderful relationship Mariella and Josh have, the story of how they met, and how lucky they are to have each other. Beautiful, by Jim Brickman, alludes, once again, to nature and literature, but also to beauty and love:
From the moment I saw you,
From the moment I looked into your eyes.
There was something about you I knew.
That you were once in a lifetime
A treasure near impossible to find.
I know how lucky I am to have you.

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