5.21.2010

Our wedding vows.

Previews Round 2-2
Kurt and I on our wedding day. Photo by Echoes Photography.

Here's another little sneak peak of our wedding last weekend. I can't believe it happened just a week ago. Married! While my head is still stuck high in the clouds, I'd like to share my favorite part of our wedding day. Our vows. We had a very brief ceremony, and wrote our own vows, which were more like mini presentations rather than the traditional I will's, I do's and 'til-death-do-us-part's. We kept our vows secret from each other. Finally hearing them was the sweetest moment of my life.

Kurt said.
Reading: Excerpt from A Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. It's in reference to a photograph taken by Voyager 1 in 1990. This is the photo.
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
Oftentimes at weddings, people speak in gross generalizations and superlatives. Bombarding the audience with "forevers" and "until the end of time" until the real sentiment has been diluted. How long is, "Til death do us part?" How much time do each of us have to do the things we want and need to do? How often have we regretted not saying what we really felt or doing what we should have done? We have all missed opportunities that we will never encounter again. To many people it's comforting to think of our departed loved ones shedding their mortal coil and being relegated to a land of clouds with an old white guy with a beard running the show, living in eternal bliss just waiting for us to join them in this heavenly resort. It seems a little flimsy to me. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about this, even more so now that Johanna is in my life. I like to think of people being like radio waves. Radio waves are constantly around us, they cannot be destroyed. We are literally immersed in them, bathing in them, however we are completely ignorant of them unless conditions are just right. Like turning on a radio, however turning the radio off, doesn't destroy the radio waves. We just lose the ability to perceive them. The human band of energy merely changes format so to speak. There is everlasting life...just not this one. Not again. We all have everlasting life. I don't mean I was Julius Caesar or when I die I'm going to end up a beggar in Mumbai. This is no poetic metaphor of sorts - we are dust from the stars, billions year old carbon, endlessly cycling, living forever. We are the food that we eat. We are the air that we breathe. Everything we see was once us and will become us. My point is that we are constantly changing throughout this adventure and our lifetime as we know it is but a blink of the eye. Till death do us part is such a short while. We piss away our time waiting, staying angry, not acting, not saying what we feel, not telling people how much we love them, not APPRECIATING what we are experiencing, and for what? What do we have to gain by denying others the love we want to give? To maintain some sense of pride that will never amount to anything. Stop every day and take a moment, MANY moments, EVERY moment if you can to appreciate the fact that we are so fortunate to be experiencing our loved ones in their current state. I want to be there for every moment I can with Johanna. That's why I am here.*

And then I said.
Reading: Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.**
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
Kurt, I love you because you always make me laugh. Genuine belly laughs. When this happens you instantly appear very pleased with yourself and say, "Oh, you like that?" and then continue to coax more laughs out. It reminds me of my favorite line in one of my favorite books, A History of Love by Nicole Krauss. She wrote, "One upon a time, there was a boy who loved a girl and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole live answering." I feel so lucky to have you answer all my laughs, and I promise I will keep laughing.

I love you because you are so caring and thoughtful. Like how you leave me love notes or pack surprises in my lunch. Like when you whittled a radish to look like a Mario mushroom, stole pieces from the Heine Brothers' Scrabble game to make me a puzzle that reads "I love you", or leave cute notes in the lunches you pack for me every morning. You wrote me a beautiful poem once, about how you can picture growing old with me. I read it every time I'm mad at you just to stay focused.

I love you because we create adventures together and you aren't afraid to adopt my silly ways. You expertly know how to navigate my extensive language of sound effects, made up words and songs.

You're my best friend. I feel most like myself when I'm with you. My hand always feels most comfortable in yours. When we face challenges together, I promise to focus on our love so that it may become stronger. As we grow old together, I promise to not let time dull my love and appreciation for you. The time I've spent with you has been the best time of my life, and I'm thrilled to spend the rest of my days as your wife.*** ****

Some notes:
* Kurt had written his vows months before our wedding day. He practiced reading them to everyone except me. He even read them to strangers, like a patient at the Doctor's office where he works. It was very cute. People smiled at me like they were in on a big secret. I, however, wrote a draft of mine the morning of our wedding day. After all the commotion about Kurt's vows, I felt the pressure to write some grand manifesto of sorts and procrastination set in. I was thinking too hard and too much. In the end, I decided to be myself and simply say what I felt. When you speak from the heart, you say all the right words without even trying.
** I like that Kurt read Carl Sagan and I read an excerpt of a children's story. Very telling. :)
*** My part was originally meant to be a show-and-tell. I had collected all these artifacts from our time together. Love notes, poems, hand-made trinkets he'd given me. But in true Johanna fashion, I misplaced all of these things an hour before the ceremony. Oops. Just like it wouldn't be our wedding without a Carl Sagan reference, it wouldn't be our wedding without me forgetting something. Ha!
****I'm not exactly sure if this is exactly what I said. I was so nervous, and the words just fell out of my mouth! But this is it, more or less, pretty much and basically.




7 comments:

  1. I looked up the Pale Blue Dot and viewed it before finishing the rest of your post. Just the finding of that picture, and the knowing of the infinitesimal grace of each and every one of us---that would have been enough for today.

    But all the rest---his words and your words, and that priceless picture of you strolling hand-in-hand down the path---those are just too-much-all-at-once.

    I'll return and savor the rest later.

    My best wishes to you both,

    rachel

    PS---in all my years of attending, catering, and co-ordinating weddings, I DO believe that this is the very first instance of hearing the word "piss" included in the vows.

    Bravo, Kurt!

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  2. I think I've watched that sloth video 10 times. It makes me extremely happy. As does the rest of this post. *smile*
    xo

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  3. Thanks, Rachel. You're right, working in the word piss is quite unique. Hehe

    Andrea, me too! I am smitten for sloths. :)

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  4. thank you for sharing your wedding with the world - it sounds truly beautiful and heartfelt. we are getting married in 3 months time and personal vows and the pale blue dot reading are the only things we are have decided yet.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you and congratulations of your upcoming wedding!

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