I just got the most awesome gift, a compilation of music from the mighty herc that has twenty five of my thirty current favorite songs. Among the amazing songs are They Might Be Giants doing a (typically) sweet and funny song, a cover of "New York City," An old Less Than Jake song from the Grease soundtrack, and Bruce Springsteen doing a classic rocking "Mountain of Love." Springsteen has an ability to be sincere that blows my mind. Even when you know he's just messing around knocking off a song in his studio, you get the idea that he's unemployed writing on the bathroom wall of some tavern in Hackensack. I don't know how he does it.
It got J and I talking about doing a similar love song comp for Valentine's day, to send to friends.
Which got us on marriage. One of my failings, one that I'll admit to, is a tendency to think of the world in terms of abstractions and avoid real world complications, which are not easily evaluated on an intellectual plane. This is a common "smart" person problem. I'm aware this could sound a little odd, and I hope I say what I say with humility: not meaning I am wise or anything but the ability to process information and apply it often creates a bias towards modeling and away from practical experience. In reality, problems as variable as love and children and national economic crises are very large and complex. Not easily modeled and therefore in danger of oversimplification by pretty much everyone. I certainly do it. But I also feel that I have a nice marriage, and some of the things I've learned could be useful to people trying to make a go of a relationship.
I thought a lot about that this week, a I was sick and J was working on finals and our life seemed insane for a few days. We set aside everything we could and just plowed through, checking in with each other, asking for and giving help...It reminded me of one thing we've always talked about as a strength: We aren't going to let any little things (even careers or money) push aside the commitment we've made to each other. I may not succeed at much, but in fifteen years I have succeeded at trying to grow as a person, admit mistakes, and share with Jaime. She jokes that I couldn't lie to her if I wanted; and I find it a little amazing that I never have. Well, I try and say it wasn't me who gave Viri cupcakes at 7pm, but she doesn't buy it. I may be wrong, but searching my memory, I think the last time I even avoided telling her something I thought was important was in high school. Spouses have aspects of themselves they don't talk about, sure. But if I think it impacts J or the kids I say.
This tendency to focus on the deeper issues is something I don't hear a lot about from my friends and coworkers. I worry that people today get together for superficial reasons: I like this band, She looks punk rock, She shares my taste in art. These are fun things, but they don't make a relationship for life. That comes when you say, "I love you. Our love means something. I will do anything to help you fulfill your life, including improving myself and sacrificing for you."
Paraphrasing from my Christian comrades, faith, hope and love abide in the world. The greatest of these is Love.