Caption: DO YOU WEAR YOUR HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE EVERY DAY?
I recently attended the wedding of the daughter of some family friends. The wedding was extraordinary on several levels. It was a very traditional ceremony — an Orthodox Jewish wedding. In fact, there were more Orthodox Rabbis than you could shake a stick at (though why you’d want to shake a stick at an Orthodox Rabbi I will never know — rim shot!). The Affair — which is what Jews from “Back East” call a catered reception — was NOT held in a major Jewish center like New York, Chicago, Miami, or Los Angeles, it was held in Seattle, Washington. But perhaps the most unusual part of the wedding was the fact that my friend — the father of the precious young bride — has advanced, inoperable cancer.
Even though a wedding is an unqualified celebration of life, the shadow of tragedy is never far from our lives. Traditional Judaism integrates this idea into the wedding ceremony itself with the breaking of a glass by the bridegroom. Although symbolic of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the breaking of the glass at a Jewish wedding is a tangible reminder that life is a blending of opposites — joy and grief, good and bad, the individual and the community.
Given the father of the bride’s health situation, one might have thought that the family might have chosen to have a small private ceremony. Since the bridegroom came from another U.S. city — where the bride also attended school for several years — the family could have easily decided to hold the wedding in the bridegroom’s home town and simply invite family and close friends. But the family decided instead to invite their family, friends, and the community at large to share in their joy and celebrate together with them the founding of a new Jewish family. As I watched the parents of the bride marching down the aisle, l couldn’t help thinking that while one can’t choose how much time one gets on this earth, one can choose how one wants to be remembered. I will never forget the sight of my friend beaming with fatherly pride and surrounded by the many, many people whose lives he has so deeply touched. It was, quite literally, an unforgettable memory.
A few years ago, WWJD — What Would Jesus Do — bracelets, jewelry, and T-Shirts were all the rage. While I am not a Christian, I can definitely relate to the concept of incorporating positive affirmations into wearable keepsakes in an effort to keep one’s conscious mind focused on what ultimately matters in life. Jewelry Designer Jessica Kagan Cushman offers a high impact, high fashion example of this concept with her fabulous resin bracelets to support The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.
So for all of you artsy, craftsy, creative types out there (Attention … calling all Etsy artists!), may I offer some more ideas suitable for inscribing on bracelets:
- HDYWTBR? — How Do You Want To Be Remembered? — in honor of my dear, dear friend, thank you for teaching me yet another priceless life lesson
- I5YWIRMAD? — In 5 Years Will It Really Make A Difference? — for all of us who tend to obsessively sweat the small stuff
- WWYDIYKYCNF? — What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail? — for all of us who sometimes let fear and self-doubt control us (and in honor of my mentor Janelle Elms of the Online Success Institute and OSI Rock Stars)
- LIWHWPMO — Luck Is What Happens When Preparedness Meets Opportunity — the Roman philosopher Seneca made this observation back in the 1st Century A.D., but it is as true now as it was then
- FLHMELCMWLBMTLSMLMAAGTWBY — Fear Less, Hope More; Eat Less, Chew More; Whine Less, Breathe More; Talk Less, Say More; Love More, And All Good Things Will Be Yours — While this unpronounceable cluster of letters reads like a bowl of alphabet soup, what this Swedish proverb lacks in brevity, it makes up for in comprehensiveness
How many decisions and lives would be changed if we just wore our most cherished principles on our sleeves all the time? … Or maybe, just on our wrists.