Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's Not about You

Yesterday (10/17) I co-officiated Mark and Katie’s wedding ceremony with Father Chris Weber at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Willoughby, Ohio.

Interestingly this very idea resonates with Katie and Mark in the way they live their lives. They are genuinely curious individuals, who try to learn from everyone they interact with, and every situation they encounter. So I wondered to myself, what is it that has allowed them to acquire this vital trait. Could it be the fact that between them they have more degrees than a thermometer? Perhaps. Then again, we all know people who are very well educated in the conventional sense of the word, while also making it clear that, in their eyes, they have nothing left to learn...

So, I continued to wonder, and I found a more promising clue. Maybe it was that they both grew up in households with proud religious and cultural traditions. Katie grew up in the Catholic tradition, and Mark, in an interfaith household, as Mark’s dad, Howard, is Jewish and his mom, Mary, is Lutheran. Perhaps. Then again, there are people that are very much connected to their traditions, and still, sometimes even because of that very fact, seem to have all the answers...
Then I hit on it. It was a different aspect of their traditions, specifically how their parents raised them in those traditions. As you have probably noticed by now, these two grew up in very different religious backgrounds. The actual approach to religion itself was different in each household. However, there is one common thing that really stands out in how they discuss their families' and their own differing approaches to religion. Both of them say that when you get down to brass tacks, what is really important is to be good to other people.
Now, when you really and truly believe that that is the only absolute, you understand probably the most important foundational tenet of the good life: It's not about you.
Now, once you get that, the logical extension is that you probably don't have all the answers. The logical extension of that is that if you pay attention, you might just learn something.
This is why Mark will tell you that from his first interaction with Katie, he felt this incredible ease. She was easy to talk to, she made him immediately comfortable. Without even mentioning this concept, he got it: she did not think it was all about her. Katie knew the same about Mark. She had a cool telling question she had asked a number of guys: What is your favorite song? Other guys were happy to tell her, but that was it. Mark told her, and then asked her what her favorite song was. It was immediately clear to her. This guy knows, that it is not all about him.
You see the cool thing about being raised with the understanding that it's not all about you, and really internalizing it, is that counter intuitively it ends up influencing YOU more than anyone else. It makes YOU a better person, and a better partner. When you find a partner that shares this perspective, differences matter a whole lot less, because on this one issue, from which most values derive, you are on the same page.
Katie shared with me that her close friend, Lil, for whom she cared in her last years of life, told her that there was a guy out there who was just for her, a match made in heaven, if you will. Katie is confident that Lil is looking down right now, and giving her the thumbs up. This actually echoes a concept we Jews call Beshert, which like many Yiddish words almost resists simple translation, with its multilayered richness. It usually refers to a couple, and means made for each other, though it can also mean general good fortune.
Many times it is understood as something mystical, but maybe it is, and Lil's promise to Katie too, have a more conventional explanation. Our parents, and then we ourselves, make us who we are. If you are raised with and continue to abide by the simple understanding that it's not about you, than in essence, just like Katie and Mark, well, you are truly made for each other. Now, that is truly Beshert...

No comments:

Post a Comment