When I brought her coffee in bed on our anniversary, as I do many mornings, I said to Dear that it’s a strange thing when the number of years we’ve been married feels bigger than the number of years we’ve been alive.
Which got me thinking: I bet that’s not an uncommon sensation for those who live in wonder at the vastness of existence. People like us, really.
The joy we know today makes it easy to appreciate the time and pain and despair it can take to discover a peaceful heart. It is joy born of becoming ever better at surrender, a skill enhanced by the angels of bullshit who, when necessary, wrench from our clutch whatever we mistake for serious business.
The essence of who we are remains as pure as it was when we first formally pledged our love. What’s changed is our understanding of that purity, what it really means to love, to forgive, to accept, to frame every situation positively, to grow our ability to experience gratitude, to choose kindness and generosity. We felt we had a pretty good grip on things that day in 1977. But in what seems like a few incarnations since, we’ve learned that nobody gets married because they know what marriage is about. We get married to find out.
Which makes sense, I guess, since both Dear and I, just prior to conception, hopped the train named Go Big Or Stay Home and rode it to the end of the line where life is comprised of intense challenges and equally intense support––and happiness requires the full embrace of both.
Who would have thought that life would be so enjoyably characterized by sameness: bringing all the love we can to here and now, and doing so with a lot of humor? Or that we would feel that we will die without regret?
On our date that afternoon, Dear told me of a practice she had recently begun: freeing herself of any presence of others in her consciousness; and freeing others to find their own way without having to carry with them the weight of any expectations of hers. She holds their presence in her heart, then offers it to the One with a blessing. Sharings like these between us, sharings of our deepest aspirations and how they live in us, is among the sacred gifts of our partnership––and an everyday occurrence.
About the time we were married, the anniversary present Dear’s brother-in-law gave to Dear’s sister was a blacktop driveway. Dear said to me, “If you ever give me an anniversary present like that, you’re dead meat.” We were much too full our ourselves to hear God chuckling in the background.
Others might head to Hawaii to mark their 40th wedding anniversary, or at least wish they could. We headed 50 miles through the Vermont countryside to the tile store to select a new bathroom floor.
Along the way, we said to each other, as we often do: “There’s no place I’d rather be.”