Monday, October 12, 2020

Turn Your Fate into Your Destiny

Friday evening, Father Anthony McGinn and I co-officiated Ashley and Doug’s wedding ceremony at the Marigny Opera House, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I found Doug’s description of how he and Ashley met intriguing: “I was travelling to New York City one weekend… My sister was flying back from a business trip around the same time I was flying in from New Orleans. I was going to meet up with her so we could share a cab into the city… Her flight was delayed, so I sat at her gate… waiting… I was messing around on my phone and ended up logging-on to Bumble… I ended up matching with Ashley and even though I was up front with her about the fact that I lived out of town, we ended up texting…”

Forget the fact that the last paragraph would not have even made sense to any of you, just a few years ago. You wouldn’t understand what messing around on a phone means. You wouldn’t understand how one would log in on a phone. You wouldn’t understand what an app is or how one matched on it.

It’s also kind of crazy, when you think about how we got here. Cellular technology was developed from a process used to navigate torpedoes to hit Nazi naval vessels, and apps matching folks partially based on where they are, rely on GPS, developed to track Soviet intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles. What I’m trying to say is that fate, forces far beyond the control of Ashley and Doug, brought them together.

Ashley picks up the story from here: “From then on, we texted back and forth every day. Texting turned into phone calls. Phone calls turned into FaceTimes. Keep in mind: we still hadn’t met in person. As fate would have it, we were both going to Chicago for Labor Day Weekend! He was on a bachelor party and I was going to visit friends.”

Now here is where their descriptions interestingly diverge. Doug simply says, “Ashley and I ended up meeting up at a bar around Wrigley Field called Sluggers.” Fate, once again? Not according to Ashley! “If you know me, you know I’m very determined. How could we both be in the same city and NOT meet? I was out with my friends at a bar and Doug had been out all day for a football game. He and his friends were on a party bus back to the city. Their next destination? Sluggers sports bar near Wrigley field. So naturally, I hopped into an Uber… I waltzed right in wearing a bright red dress like the emoji girl... and immediately spotted Doug at the bar. We started dancing, laughing, talking all night and closed the place down. Fun fact: unbeknownst to me, his friends were still there and were spying on us from afar. I got the stamp of approval.”

There’s a lot more to the story of the last few years, but these two beginning parts tell us a lot, if we are willing to listen. Don’t take it from me. Take it from Ashley, “I like the think our story is one of fate but also persistence — our commitment to our love, embracing each other's' uniqueness and making it work.” Interestingly, the contrast between fate and what she calls persistence is reflected in the writing of a giant of 20th Century Jewish philosophy, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He defines fate as something that happens to you, over which you have no control. He says the challenge is to transform that fate into destiny, through which you metamorphose from being the one acted upon by forces beyond your control into an actor who takes control.

When you do that, specifically in the framework of a loving partnership, the potential for growth as individuals and as a couple is limitless. Now, going to a bar in Chicago to meet someone you have never met in person takes some fortitude and possibly some liquid courage, even for an extrovert like Ashley. You may not be able to truly imagine what it meant for Doug, the introvert to take the next step. As he tells us, “Anyone that ever knew me would have bet their life that I would never move out of New Orleans. Everything I knew and loved was in New Orleans. I didn’t really know anyone in NYC outside of my sister, I didn’t have a job there, and New York was a city that was a completely different lifestyle than I had ever imagined for myself. Normally I would have been all sorts of anxious and sick to make such a leap. The difference this time was Ashley.”

Ashley sums up why their relationship works, “Doug and I come from very different backgrounds. He’s a more reserved Catholic boy who grew up in the South and never thought he’d leave, and I’m an extroverted Midwestern Jewish girl who has lived in a fast-paced city environment for most of my adult life. But our differences are what make us perfect for each other! We balance each other out and bring out the best in each other. I push him outside of his comfort zone. And he encourages me to slow down, be more patient and enjoy life’s little moments.”

The lesson, my friends, is clear. Be like Ashley and Doug. Turn your fate into your destiny. It does, indeed, pay off.

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