The Act of Falling

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Facing the future with another hand in yours. Photograph by Stephanie Bassos.

 

I recently had the honor and pleasure of reading something at the wedding of two wonderful people: my dear brother-in-law Arvin and his remarkable (now) wife Erica. It was a beautiful and very special ceremony.

My reading was a . . . something (essay? prose poem?) that I wrote for the occasion. In writing it, I was inspired by the couple and their loving ease and flexibility, both together and with extended family. My other inspiration was a cool scientific paper describing the End of History Illusion.

And so, with love and congratulations to happy couple, I am posting the something that they inspired me to write.

Here is a psychological fact: we realize how much we have changed in the past, but we are blind to all of the changing we have left to do. This is as true at 75 as it is at 17. We cannot comprehend that we are each perpetually becoming someone new. It is hard to believe, hard to accept. You will be many different people in the course of a single life.

But what happens when we meet someone and fall in love? We know ourselves and each other right now, at this moment. And we are ready to take this moment forward to forever. But there is a catch. You are not done becoming you and I am not done becoming me. Today is a still-frame but we are movies – unfolding and emerging over time. That is why marriage is a risk, a leap of faith, an act of courage. It is an investment whose return you cannot guarantee.

But sometimes one person finds another, and they fit. Do not call their relationship rock-solid; it is nothing so rigid as that. It is two people who bend and flex, who together weave a future out of cloth and not stone, out of mutual respect and affection, not expectations of permanence or perfection.

Sometimes two people decide to take that leap and to invest in each other, to change and grow together and to commit to honesty and love. Just as a parent can hold a newborn and love all of the people that child might one day grow to be, two people can commit to the certainty of uncertainty, to loving what they have not yet become.

People say that marriage is a balancing act, but it is nothing so contained or so ordinary. It is the act of falling, but of choosing to fall together. It is choosing to create and adapt and sometimes falter and fight because you will have the remarkable privilege of evolving together and of loving the many different people that you will both turn out to be. It is a choice to face an unknown future with another hand in yours. To grow up, or grow out, or grow old – but to grow, and to always keep growing together.

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