Today is my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary! I guess you could say that I’ve been married for a good while. I’ve also been performing wedding ceremonies, premarital and marriage counseling for a while. In my own marriage, and the marriages of others, I’ve witnessed quite a bit. So much, in fact, that I’ve come to believe that there are some people who should stay single and never get married. Here’s the short list.
Est. 1991 – That Went Fast
It is difficult to believe that October will mark my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. I am married to a wonderful woman, who has been my best friend since soon after we met nearly thirty years ago. I can still remember the feeling I had when I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I can remember how nervous I was when I spoke to her mother (her father died when she was a teen) about wanting to marry her. I vividly remember the excited nervousness I had when she walked down the aisle of the church toward me. I remember our honeymoon in Cancun, closing on our first house (a major fixer-upper), the birth of our two children, family vacations, fighting and fussing, highs and lows (we’ve had a good share of both). After a quarter of a century married (I just wanted to say that) I wouldn’t trade any of it for any amount of money.
“So to live one life, defined as ‘interweaving the various parts of life into a harmonious single narrative’, is going to take work.”
Where We Want to Be
I know what it is like to be pulled in many directions. I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel good. It makes me feel split, and pushes me to cry out for solace! The public me versus the private me. The professional me versus the recreational me. My emotional self versus my intellectual self. The combinations seem endless. What I want, what I believe we all want, is the peace that comes from having harmony among the different parts of our lives. Harmony. That’s the word that continues to call to me. I want harmony. Don’t we all?
Instead of harmony, most of us settle for organized chaos and call it harmony. After all, for many of us, it appears to be the best we can expect. Balancing health with our appetites. Balancing consumption with our desire for security financially. Being charitable, generous, and frugal, all at the same time. Being parent and spouse, and doing both well. Living as a faithful employee and a burgeoning entrepreneur. We manage. Sometimes we absolutely fall short of the goal. We work it out. But in the back of our minds, we’re always longing for better. We believe that somehow there is supposed to be more harmony in our lives. Well, there is supposed to be more. Harmony is possible. But we’ve got to be willing to do the work to achieve harmony, and sometimes the work towards harmony is difficult.
Live One Life
One of the definitions of harmony, according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary is, “an interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative.” How appropriate is that definition for where we desire our lives to be. I, we, want all the different parts (accounts) of my life to come together into a single narrative. I want to live one life, instead of all these separate lives that seem to have their own direction. Some would say that the varied, staccato parts of our lives do create a single narrative. After all, this logic would state, it is “our” life. True. Another definition of harmony, however, gives us a deeper understanding of what it means to live one life of harmony. A second definition of harmony is a “pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts.” So although my/your wild, harried, crazy life can be considered a single narrative, can it be considered (by you or others) either pleasing or congruent? If not, and if you desire to live one life, then it is time to commit to doing the work.
Commit to Do the Work
So to live one life, defined as “interweaving the various parts of life into a harmonious single narrative”, is going to take work. Harmony doesn’t just happen. Balance isn’t an accident. To live one life, we’ve got to decide to live for something other than the moment, while recognizing the importance of the moment in which we’re living. Living one life is greater than being a parent, employee, Christian, philanthropist, writer, spouse, or citizen, just like a puzzle is more than the individual parts in the box. Living one life is the sum of all those things when they come together in harmony. It will take work to see the picture. It is a composition that will take time to design. We must step back from the minutiae of all the different roles we play in life, in order to see the picture that all the roles create when they’re put in their proper place. Living one life is bigger than a mission statement, a vision board, or a slogan. It is the intentional, constant organizing and adjusting of our inner and outer, public and private, professional and personal selves. If we are willing to do the work, we can have the harmony that we desire in our lives.
Recently, I attended two funerals in the same day. I officiated one and simply attended the other. Funerals always leave a strong impact on those who attend, reminding us of our own mortality. To the casual observer the two funerals that I attended were at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the lessons they reinforced were invaluable.