Journeys are literal and figurative, temporal and spiritual. Nowhere is that more evident than with the time two people spend together over a lifetime as partners.
Today is our 41st wedding anniversary, and Candice and I are on a literal journey for a few days of celebration. When we were married in 1982, I was a poor graduate student in Atlanta. We found time during my spring break to get married and take a honeymoon trip to Prospect Hill — a 1732 farmhouse bed & breakfast outside Charlottesville that has since gone upscale. Over the years, we’ve taken literal anniversary trips back to Prospect Hill and then to Mohonk, Copenhagen, Rome, and last year — for our 40th — to France.
But we continue on the figurative and spiritual journey that began back when we were oh so young. A journey that has gone through the inevitable twists that come when two very different people come together after recognizing — in Conrad Aiken’s beautiful words — that …
Music I heard with you was more than music, and bread I broke with you was more than bread.
Journeys are often about finding either something we’ve lost or discovery of something we’ve never seen before. And when we’re lucky, a journey with a lifetime partner is one of extraordinary discovery.
I’ve been very lucky.
You find out things about each other that are unexpected. As one version of the saying goes, “When you search for a needle in a haystack, you come to know the haystack.” When you search for love with one person over decades, you come to know that person.
Neither one of us is perfect. We often disagree. The enduring challenge is to love across differences. Alain de Botton said in Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person,
The person we are best suited to is not the person who shares our every tastes (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in tastes intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement.
Candice is good at disagreement, in that she never makes that disagreement personal, hurtful, or permanent. To paraphrase de Botton, she tolerates differences with generosity.
Popular culture suggests that “knowledge makes love less compelling,” notes author Kathryn Schulz with a nod to scholar and activist bell hooks. “Yet knowledge — a deep, intimate, sometimes hard-won understanding of both one’s partner and oneself — is ‘an essential element of love.'” And yes, indisputably, love is mysterious.
Love, like life, like all truth, is paradox.
In a short poem by Robert Frost called Devotion, Schulz notes that what we really want is more of the same.
The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean —
Holding the curve of one position
Counting an endless repetition.
The luckiest of all conditions “is to wish only for what we already have.”
Yes, in spite of myself I’ve been very lucky.
Happy anniversary, my love. Let’s continue on these journeys together.
More to come…
With appreciation for the writings of Madeleine L’Engle and Kathryn Schulz about love and journeys.
Photo of Candice and David in the gardens at Giverny on our anniversary trip to France in 2022. Credit: Claire Holsey Brown
Happiest anniversary wishes to you both! What a love story!
Many thanks, Kathy. Appreciate the kind comment. DJB
Several friends and colleagues commented on this post on LinkedIn and FB. My friend Barbara O’Reilly wrote:
“I just loved reading this post, DJB! Wishing you and Candice a wonderful anniversary and many more to come”
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