Tag Archives: love

The Best Wedding

Yes, we really took a selfie during the ceremony...

Yes, we really took a selfie during the ceremony…

Yesterday, I had the extreme honor of marrying two of my great friends, Robert and Jacki Best. I really appreciated all the compliments on the ceremony. Many people asked about the script so I decided to post it. What follows is simply the script I wrote. It is not meant to be grammatically correct, rather structured how I wanted it to sound:

Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?

Please be seated.

Welcome everyone. Thank you so much for coming to this celebration. Today we join together two families, two hearts, and two beautiful people as they enter the next chapter of their lives together. Soon, you’ll all be able to drink, laugh, and… Looking around the room today, I’ve decided to amend my previous statement… Soon you’ll all be able to CONTINUE to drink, laugh, and wish Robert and Jacki all the happiness in the world. But first, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about faith.

Faith is an intriguing concept. What is faith? How does one acquire faith? How do we know what to have faith in? How does Faith Hill continue to look so young? These are questions that have boggled mankind for millennia. Some people are lucky. Some people are just born with it. They have this unflappable confidence in who they are and where they are going in life. Nothing can affect their happiness and positive outlook on the world. To those of you who have this faith, from those of us who were not born quite so lucky, I’d like to extend you all a big, old, hearty… good for you.

Another group of us finds faith through the words of others. Voltaire once wrote: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” Another quote, this time from Mahatma Gandhi, “Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.” Or, “The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything is… 42.” From Douglas Adams.

We can all lose our faith. It is one of the great ironies of life that all of us feel doubt and fear, and yet even though we all experience these feelings, they make us feel alone. We live in a world full of joy, but also of fear, and doubt. There’s a great, old, tale about a father and son walking through the forest together. The son was questioning how he wanted his life to play out. Should he travel early or settle down right away? What type of work should he go into? And on and on and on… The father quietly picks up a stick and hands it to his son. “If you throw this stick,” he says. “Where will it go?” “Whichever way I want it to,” replied the confused son. “No, I want you to tell me exactly what will happen to the stick when you throw it. What trees will you hit? How will it bounce? Where will it land?” The son, still slightly confused, predicts he will hit one tree, bounce into another, and land softly in a pile of leaves nearby. “Ok,” the father says. “Throw the stick.” The son throws it, misses both trees and it lands on the ground, tumbling end over end before coming to rest next to a third tree. The son slumps his shoulders and looks down before looking up at his father. The father says simply, “The important thing, is to throw the stick.”

We search for meaning and strength through all the chaos and seeming disorder around us. That search inevitably leads us to one thing. Love. Love is the eternal force of life. Love is the force that allows us to face that fear and doubt and throw the stick with courage and strength, knowing that no matter the result, joy awaits in the outcome. There is no right or wrong thing to have faith in. The important thing is that we desperately hang on to those around us who inspire us to have faith. There are no two more generous souls on the planet than Robert and Jacki. And no one more deserving of the love and faith they have found in and with each other.

Jacki. Robert. I’m going to ask you to please take each other’s hands.

Feel the warmth and love running through those hands and have faith that no matter what may come, that love you feel, will be in those hands for you. The hands that when they touched you for the first time, sparked the feelings flowing through you now. The hands that will hold you close during times of fear and doubt, wiping away your tears and bringing you the comfort of knowing that everything will be ok. These are the hands that will eventually be joined by much tinier hands when you start your new family together in the future. And perhaps most importantly, these are the hands of your best friend, and even when both of your hands are wrinkled and aged, they will still be reaching for yours, providing you that same unspoken love and strength with just a simple touch.

May we please have the bride’s ring?

Robert, please place the ring on Jacki’s finger.

Jacki, please repeat after me.

I, Jacki.

Am proud to take you Robert.

To be my husband.

I promise to nurture your goals and ambitions

To support you through your misfortunes

And celebrate your triumphs

I promise to show you every day

That I know

Exactly how lucky I am

To have you in my life

Because we are a team

For now, and always.

May we please have the groom’s ring?

Jacki, please place the ring on Robert’s finger.

Robert, please repeat after me.

I, Robert.

Am proud to take you Jacki.

To be my wife.

I promise to nurture your goals and ambitions

To support you through your misfortunes

And celebrate your triumphs

I promise to show you every day

That I know

Exactly how lucky I am

To have you in my life

Because we are a team

For now, and always.

I now pronounce you husband and wife.

Robert, you may kiss the bride.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am about to introduce you to the happy new couple… but first… lemme take a selfie!

Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. and Mrs. Robert Best!!

3.1 Decades

First, let me apologize for not updating the site in nearly two months. I know many of you are interested in what’s been going on over here. I have had so many unbelievable experiences over the past couple of months. My friends and family should already be lamenting all the long, drawn-out, convoluted stories they’ll be forced to listen to the next time I see them. I’m pretty sure the Geneva Convention will eventually outlaw my storytelling as some sort of inhumane torture.

Besides my inability to tell a concise story, the other reason I haven’t updated much is because most of the things that have been happening to me are pretty personal. I know part of the point of a blog is to share personal feelings with others, however I will always keep a part of myself for just those closest to me. Here’s a small amount of what has happened to me over the last few months.

I’ve had my phone stolen by hookers in Barcelona, not while patronizing them. Made friends with the owners of a wine shop and their friend in Avignon, who treated me like they’d known me for years, not days. Given away my favorite article of clothing to a homeless girl with two puppies when it was sleeting so they could be warm. Ice-skated in the middle of Paris with someone I’d just met and kept her upright even though she’d never skated before. Broken a champagne glass because I was afraid of a pigeon. Sat on steps in Finland that were in the middle of the capital city but made me feel like I was at the edge of the Earth. Audibly gasped at a demon mannequin child in a museum in Stockholm. Had students from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School practice making food in my kitchen.

I’ve been out from sunset to sunrise. Stayed in my flat for over 24 straight hours. Been afraid to walk in a grocery store. Been confident enough to find out if the cutest girl at the bar speaks English or not. Discovered new music. Listened to the same song for hours on repeat. Been completely panicked about what is happening. Been completely relaxed about what will happen next. Been hurt. Hurt others. Lost someone who was important to me. Found someone who will always be important to me. Woken up cold and alone. Woken up curled around a warm figure. I’ve been lost. I have found myself.

31 years ago, the greatest mother I could have ever dreamed of gave birth to me while the greatest man I’ve ever met stood by. They’ve been standing by me ever since. No matter what crazy idea I had they supported me, even when they disagreed with it. I can’t tell you how many times over the all these years they’ve asked me how I was doing, sometimes as a casual icebreaker, sometimes with genuine concern for my well-being. I still don’t know what’s going to happen, where I’m going to be, what I’m going to do, or who I’ll be with. But finally, I can answer them truthfully.

I’m good.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Normally, this is a place where I tell you what or how I’m doing while I’m away from the states. This time however, I’m concerning myself with an issue that’s happening back in the states. The marriage equality debate has hit a fever pitch and I’m sure people are tired of reading statuses, tweets, and seeing profile pictures changed. However, this issue is too important to me to not speak out. Not for me, though I’m getting better at fighting for what I want, but for people who are close to me.

Many of you know I’m extremely close with multiple homosexual people, and while I won’t be mentioning them by name, they know exactly who they are. These are people I count amongst my greatest friends. People who have supported me during my best times and my worst times, and continue to do so now. To not support them would be a disservice to the love I have for them. How could I tell them I love them, which I do, and then not fight for their happiness? Make no mistake, that’s what this entire debate is about, happiness.

I’m not going to approach it from a political perspective, but instead only as a moral issue. So let’s dispel some notions about marriage equality that have nothing to do with the reality, first and foremost being the religious issue. This is a completely irrelevant argument to me. Currently, I can get married to anyone at anytime I want. All it takes is a plane ticket to Vegas, which is admittedly more expensive now that I’m in Paris. There’s no need to get married in a church, or even by a man of the cloth. These marriages that take place outside of religious institutions or are completely devoid of religion whatsoever still count the exact same way when being viewed by the state. If churches want to deny homosexual couples getting married in their church, let them live in the past. However, just like heterosexual marriages that take place outside religious dogma, why wouldn’t we allow homosexuals the same exact rights? Who exactly is judge of how we treat the citizens of our nation, religious institutions or we the people? Furthermore, I’m not exactly a theology scholar, but I’m pretty confident a key component of almost every major religion would be to treat others as you would like to be treated. I don’t understand how people can label themselves religious and actively fight for the right to deny a portion of the population the opportunity to be happy. I know that there are many tolerant religious people in the world, but it makes me happy that I don’t subscribe to that label.

Moving to a different type of notion, one of the biggest stereotypes about homosexual men specifically is that they are not strong, but are in fact weak. That could not be more false. For my heterosexual friends who are in love, imagine being told by someone that your love for the person you care about more than anything else in the world was not right. They told you the way you want to pursue your happiness was immoral, wrong, and would not be accepted. This isn’t just by strangers or the state, but possibly by some of your friends and even your family. Now imagine the courage it would take to stand up against all of that pressure and pursue what makes you feel happy. Sound like weakness to you? When have you had that kind of courage in your lifetime?

Ultimately, this entire debate comes down to equal rights. What exactly are homosexual people asking for? Are they asking to corrupt your children, your ideals, or your religion? Not even in the slightest. They are simply asking for the same rights afforded heterosexuals, first and foremost being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is the kind of strength and pursuit that literally built this country. We have a moral obligation as a nation to treat all people equally, so stop worrying about whether being homosexual is right for you, and start worrying about it being a right.

Risk, Reward, and John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill was one the earliest and most influential supporters of women’s rights. His essay, The Subjection of Women, one of the most important feminist works of the nineteenth century. He was the first member of British Parliament to ask that women be given the right to vote. He also believed in freedom of speech, refused to attend Oxford or Cambridge because of their alliance with religion, and was a huge supporter of civil rights for every person.

The reason I bring him up is that he was buried in Avignon, where I currently am until I head back to Paris on Saturday. I was asked to seek out his resting place for a research project while I was here. I had heard of Mill and respected his opinions and work but did not know much more about him. I was very surprised at what lay atop his grave. While there was a small inscription on the side informing you that this was indeed where John Stuart Mill was buried, the top was solely dedicated to honoring his partner in life, Harriet.

The following adorns the top of the grave of John Stuart Mill

The following adorns the top of the grave of John Stuart Mill

to the beloved memory
of
Harriet Mill
the dearly loved and deeply regretted
wife of John Stuart Mill
her great and loving heart
her noble soul
her clear powerful original and
comprehensive intellect
made her the guide and support
the instructor in wisdom
and the example in goodness
as she was the soul earthly delight
of those who had the happiness to belong to her
as earnest for all public good
as she was generous and devoted
to all who surrounded her
her influence has been felt
in many of the greatest
improvements of the age
and will be in those still to come
were there even a few hearts and intellects
like hers
this earth would already become
the hoped for heaven
she died
to the irreparable loss of those who survive her
at Avignon Nov 3 1858

Harriet Taylor Mill

Harriet Taylor Mill

Mill and his wife knew each other for less than thirty years and were controversially linked while Harriet was married to another man. They were socially outcast solely for being in love with each other. If this had happened in modern times, Harriet and her first husband would have divorced and she and Mill would have been free from judgment by (hopefully) most. The chance they took was immense, and so, it seems, was the reward they were given. We are very risk-averse as a culture now, preferring to be cautious so we can avoid the pain that comes from taking a risk and dealing with the fallout if it does not pan out.

I’m generalizing too much…

I’ve been hurt in the past. I prefer to be cautious instead of risking feeling deep and meaningful things for another person. I would rather avoid the pain that comes from taking a chance and failing. If this pattern remains, I will continue to be good, but never great.

John Stuart Mill died May 7, 1873 and fifteen years later he adorned his grave not with his great and many accomplishments, but with a dedication to the person who meant more to him than any other. Many of us probably don’t remember John Stuart Mill even though his works were extremely important in advancing nineteenth century thought. He is remembered for being one of the early feminists, advancing Utilitarian thought, and probably by a small town in Australia a couple hundred kilometers outside Melbourne named for him. Mill, however, decided that the one thing he wanted to be remembered for more than anything of his greatest accomplishments was his love for another. I know in order to feel that strongly for someone, I’ll eventually have to take that large of a risk again.