Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary -- This Time It's the Real Deal

“Most people think of love as a feeling but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” 
-- David Richo


Happy Anniversary to my soul mate, husband, lover, partner, challenger, cohort, sometimes adversary, and always, always -- best friend.

At our wedding, June 5, 2009 Maris LeBlanc read the following from Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran and we have lived by these words since that day:

On Marriage
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. 

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. 

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

In this, my absolute final marriage, I have taken a fresh perspective on love and relationships—one that focuses not on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and realistic person.

Together Mike and I explore the hallmarks of mindful loving and how they play a key role in our marriage:
  •  Attention - to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
  •  Acceptance - of ourselves and others just as we are.
  • Appreciation - of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
  • Affection - shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
  • Allowing - life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache, without trying to take control.
When deeply understood and applied, these five simple concepts form the basis of our mature love. They help us to move away from judgment, fear, and blame to a position of openness, compassion, and realism about life and relationships. By giving and receiving these hallmarks, our marriage becomes deeper and more meaningful every day.

This marriage has been transformational for both Mike and me. We truly love and respect one another with our flaws and faults, accepting that we cannot change one another. At the same time, we allow each to change ourselves as needed. By no means has this been a perfect, unflawed, mistake-free marriage. We have both grown spiritually in our marriage, intellectually in our friendship, emotionally in our partnership, and yes, physically in our celebrating life together. We know that in this life, there is nothing we cannot handle – especially together, moment by moment. The "good" affords us positive memories for ourselves, and our family; the "bad" affords us lessons that ensure personal growth. I believe every action is a call to a higher power – for Mike and for me, the higher power is God.

Daily, we strive for godliness. We do not always succeed but we know that what matters is the journey and we try and try and try. So far, so good.

However, life has certain givens, certain unavoidable facts; five stand out for all of us (Richo):

    1.     Everything changes and ends,
    2.     Things do not always go according to our plans,
    3.     Life is not always fair,
    4.     Suffering is part of everyone’s life, and
    5.     People are not always loving, honest, generous, loyal—nor can they be expected to be. 

An unconditional yes to these facts of life is a surrender to what is. This is not resignation or giving up. It is aligning ourselves to reality with calm ruthlessness. We then find the wisdom to see the difference between what can and what cannot be changed. We do all we can to change the things that can be changed and, with equal alacrity, to accept whatever cannot be changed. We are serene in unalterable circumstances because we are no longer beleaguered by the stress of being at odds with them.

The opposite of saying yes is seeking control. We try to control other people, our own feelings, and life events. In facing life as it is, the style of yes is to let the chips fall where they may and then play them to the best benefit of ourselves, and others.

This I believe, and as Mike and I commit daily to being open, honest, and direct in this marriage, we practice our unconditional yes, without protest or complaint, we notice that we no longer ask, “Why?” or “Why me?” Now we simply say, “Yes, now what?”

Mike is a stronger, more secure, more compassionate man than the man I married and I am a more patient, empathetic, and allowing woman than the one he married. From me, he has learned that he must love God, himself, and others -- in that order. From him, I have learned that letting go is one of life's most powerful lessons resulting in the most meaningful outcomes.

May we have as many moments together in time as God wishes to afford. In the meantime, may there be spaces in our togetherness, allowing the winds of heaven dance between us.  

I love you – you are worthy of my love; 
I hope I am always worthy of yours.
Happy Anniversary, Michael!