Note: You may also like my recent guest post on Goodlife Zen: How to be your own best friend. Check it out!
A couple I know got married this past weekend. As a twice-divorced person, introvert, and girlfriend of the dad of the groom, I would normally find this a recipe for misery and catch the first flight out of town. However, the wedding and surrounding festivities were beautiful and magical in a way that was unique to this couple. By sharing the celebration with friends and family from far and wide, they gave us all the gift of being part of their lives. They also gave everyone a reason to gather and an opportunity to see each other for the first time in years.
I admire this couple for many reasons, but maybe most of all for their ability to capture beautiful moments and savor life. It seems like they’re always going on small adventures or excursions, playing, discovering, creating. She’s a photographer, and from her pictures, you can tell that she takes the time to really be wherever she is, to observe it and appreciate it.
For those of us who have gotten into the habit of rushing from task to task without slowing down, here are a few things that may help.
Celebrate. Of course, most people celebrate the big things, like weddings and graduations, but celebrate the small things, too. It’s the first warm day of spring? You found something you lost? You accomplished something good? Your flowers are blooming? You’re alive? Celebrate!
Share. I’ll be the first one to tell you, I suck at sharing. I want the whole candy bar for myself, I don’t like people messing with my stuff, and if I ever got married again (unlikely), I would want to elope.
But watching how much everyone enjoyed spending time together this weekend, I think that would be a shame, in a way. No matter how much fun we have when we get together, most people don’t make the time for it unless there’s a wedding or a funeral. Instead, let’s make time for each other, especially when we can do it without all the hoopla of a big event.
Roll with it. In life, as in weddings, things rarely go as planned. We all have the choice every day to be Bridezilla or not. For the wedding this weekend, all of the flowers died, and someone decided to surprise the bride (who dreads insects and hates to see anything oppressed or in captivity) with a cage full of butterflies to be released. She handled everything with pure grace.
Here’s the thing: dead flowers don’t ruin a wedding by themselves. It’s only a disaster if you let it be. You can either flip out and start screaming at everyone, or you can be calm and quickly procure replacements from Costco. The same is true for almost everything that goes wrong in life. It can be difficult to stay calm when things are going wrong, but it’s worth the effort.
Seek out beauty. It’s all around us, but we’re often moving so fast, we can’t see it. Make time to notice the wildflowers, or the cool way the branches of a tree come together, or the glorious sunset.
You can also create your own beauty. Even something as simple as a bouquet of flowers, a different cover on your bed, or removing the clutter from one corner of a room can be something to enjoy and admire.
Love. It can be hard and scary to open your heart and let yourself be vulnerable to another person, especially if you’ve had bad experiences in the past. But really, what’s the point if not to know and be known, be truly understood and loved for who you really are? That can’t happen if you’re hiding.
The big, deep love is rare, but a few find it, or create it. It can’t happen when you’re protecting yourself. In the words of Ben Lee, “gamble everything for love.”
Make a list of things you need
leave it empty
except for number one–write love–
At this wedding, the bride and groom’s love was so radiant, it was hard to look at them without crying. When the celebrant started to ask the groom for his vow, he jumped in with “I will!” before she had half the sentence out. I know he was embarrassed to make such a “mistake,” but it was really sweet. And when it was the bride’s turn, she did the same thing, for solidarity.
That’s the way to do it. Wear your heart on your sleeve, and have the other person’s back. Everyone who was at the wedding will always remember that moment, because they got it so right.
Be yourself. Often the things we’re most self-conscious about are the very things that are most endearing to the people who love us. Are you the kind of person who impulsively decides to learn to play the ukulele, or makes up arguments that J. P. Morgan was really a vampire, or brings several dozen clown noses to a wedding reception? Or maybe you think you’re boring, but actually, you’re the one people turn to when they can’t figure their lives out.
Whatever it is, give yourself permission to stop worrying what people think. Find what makes you unique, and be more like that.