Earlier this year, my dear friend and DTM co-conspirator Jess Do and her fiancé Geoff Tully asked me to write and read the opening of their wedding ceremony.
I think the irony of asking me of all people to do this was lost on them, but I was honored (if a bit terrified!) by the request and took up the challenge.
I hope you enjoy it.
We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Jessica Do & Geoffrey Tully.
My name is Mariana Rego, and I am honored, as their friend, to have been asked to by Jess & Geoff to welcome you to this celebration.
Jess & Geoff like to say that our ability to love -- in all its forms -- represents the best of our humanity.
...but what IS love?
We all think we know what it is…
We all have an internal experience of it.
What is love….is one of the central questions of our human lives.
We seek it
We chase it
We crave it so much it physically hurts
We fall for mirages of what it isn’t…
We get hurt, disappointed, let down...
...and in the end…
...do we actually know?
Can we actually express it?
In other words, are we any wiser for all the heartache?
So I ask again...What is love?
The ancient Greek philosophers had 4 or 6 or 8 words for love, depending on what source you trust.
In our culture, in our English language, we have only one word.
I bet if we look at different cultures throughout the ages, we’ll find many, many more words.
You might wonder -- but what does that matter?
Definitions are important.
Language has power.
Language is what allows us to express -- to paint our world -- for others.
It’s what enables to describe things. It’s what allows us to consciously connect.
So I ask again, for the third time...What is love?
Is love connection?
Is it the crazy high we feel in the throes of lust?
Is it the loss we feel when we lose a friend to cancer?
Is it the heart-squeeze of a parent?
Is it the way I feel about pizza?
Yes, words are important. But as mythologist Joseph Campbell said -- and I’m paraphrasing here -- the words to describe the divine need to be transcended to experience the actual divine. We can’t confuse the words to describe the thing with the actual thing.
We cannot mistake the word love for our experiences of love.
Perhaps this is for the best.
If we were completely able to perfectly express our experiences of love, we wouldn’t have the richness of our cultural canon -- from the plays of Shakespeare to the musical masterpieces of Drake, and everything in between. (They love Drake).
Maybe, what we need to do is for me to stop talking and for us to get in touch with our actual experiences. To feel what we feel in this exact moment, in this celebration of love.
So I’m going to ask you to get new-agey with me for a moment.
This is going to be weird.
I can see you cringing, but I promise it’ll be fine...
...because I used to be a yoga teacher, so you can trust me.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
And another deep breath…
...and notice your body.
Notice how you feel.
Can you notice love in this moment?
For your loved ones?
For your friends?
For Jess & for Geoff?
Take it all in.
You can open your eyes now.
Now that I’ve gone on and on about how words can’t describe love, I’m going to describe love. Or at least try to.
Bossa nova master Tom Jobim has a song called Wave that always makes me think of Jess & Geoff.
If you don’t have the privilege of being Brazilian like me, you may only have heard Frank Sinatra’s English language version...and I promise you that you’ve heard it, right after they played The Girl from Ipanema the last time you were in an elevator.
I never liked that English version much, because I think something gets lost in the translation.
A crucial line in English becomes:
“The fundamental loneliness goes when two can dream a dream together…”
...which is a beautiful sentiment...
...but the original is so much better.
I’m not going to sing the Portuguese for you, but a more literal translation would be “love is fundamental, it’s impossible to be happy alone.”
...which for me, is a broader sentiment.
Here’s my definition of what that line means. It’s two words - Jess & Geoff.
Them. The reason we’re here today.
Jess and Geoff are such giving & open people.
There’s just something about them that makes people feel welcome, accepted -- dare I say...loved?
Expanding on that, perhaps love is a necessary condition for happiness.
As Clark Strand says, “Happiness is not happiness unless it is shared. For happiness is the one thing in all the world that comes to us only at the moment we give it, and is likewise increased by being given away."
While we can’t define what love is, we can see it, and it is what Jess & Geoff have.
But they don’t keep it to themselves.
They share their joy & it brings us joy.
Their happiness enriches our lives.
It enriches the world.
How lucky we are that through mirages and fruitless chases, that they met.
How lucky we are that we met them and are a part of this story.
How lucky we are that their love overflows.
Thank you for sharing your love with us.
We love you.