Privilege Blog

The Bodhisattva “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:43am

A week ago today, at the end of that night, I went to find my brother and his new wife to say goodbye. They pulled me over to the photo booth and gave me a kiss. I had put on my black sweater and black tights and flats from earlier in the day. Sturdy Gals are rarely Cinderella and do not make getaways in sparkling heels. The flower was a prop.

The picture, which I do love, reminds me of the toast I gave. I thought, if you don’t mind, that I’d share it. I am paraphrasing, as I did not write it down before I spoke.

All the toasters had a microphone. When my turn came, we were standing on the stage. I told the guests that I had helped the couple  plan their wedding. I told them that during the process my brother had called me a “Bodhisattva.” I told them I would let my family’s laughter die down before proceeding, as I am no such thing, but that in saying so, my brother had inadvertently given me a “Bodhisattva Get Out Of Jail Free Card.” The card meant that the couple had to listen to one piece of advice from me, whatever I wanted to say. And so,

My advice is this. I believe that these days we have two dominant models for love. In the first, we yearn for a shiny object we do not have, thinking it will make us also shiny. In the second, we partner for the long term, and we compromise. We concede and make do. In the first model, we are always yearning, always lacking something. In the second, we are often resentful, over the years.

There is another model I think we can look to, the archetype for how the human creature loves, the love of a parent for their newborn baby. We love to take care of our babies. We don’t think of our love as a burden. In fact, we feel privileged to be given the gift of caring for that new person. When our baby does well, we take that as our own success.

I believe it’s so easy to love a baby because their new life from the universe is so closely with them. Hovering, almost. So come to your loved one newly born, if we can call it that. See your loved one as newborn.

This is different from babies in that we have to be prepared for our children to leave us. They may not, but we have to be prepared. We don’t have to leave our partners. So don’t. Stay. Stay and take care of each other.

It’s a gift to have the chance to care for another person.

The ballroom was quite noisy, what with the high ceilings, tall windows, and many festive guests. I felt rather like a revivalist preacher, speaking loudly and without pause, exhorting. But in fact I was just telling my brother and his new wife something I believe despite an absence of proof.  I have found that life is quite full of mysteries, and at any given time it’s good to be able to speak from the heart about whatever, no matter how limited, you may know.

Photobooth courtesy Ian Londin Photography

51 Responses

  1. A wonderful speech Lisa, heartfelt and I am sure much appreciated by your brother and new sister in law. Love the photo..pure love all the way around!
    Speaking of love…I have been scrolling up and down and love the new blog layout. Thanks for your comment on WordPress. I can see what you mean, far more options than Blogger. It really lifts a blogs presence…it certainly has done that for you.

    Best wishes Lisa and thanks for stopping by my Facebook page too!

    Jeanne xxx

  2. You are very wise, and you have some of the very best blog post titles – I am standing up with my microphone to say this because I am sure of it.

  3. Beautiful advice. Babies bring out a generosity of soul that can be quite surprising. So can a loved one. When we stop counting who did what for whom, and find a smile sufficient reward for our labor, we can finally relax and enjoy love without obscuring it with other emotions.

    Plus as a bonus, loved ones don’t usually spit up on your shirts.

  4. excellent advice and toast. why are people so forgiving of their children and not of their spouses? i’ve seen so many marriages end b/c of lack of forgiveness.

    love the photo too. you are a doll.


  5. A very moving and insightful toast. It’s almost something to aspire to, that kind of love for a spouse. It would require considerable trust and more importantly, it should be reciprocated. The photo is adorable, and by the way, your brother’s hair is a beautiful color!

  6. It is coincidental that you wrote this. My parents who are in their 80’s and have been married for 61 years prove this.. My father has been in the hospital for bypass surgery and is doing very well, but my mother will not leave the hospital..even though it has been 4 days..They have proven to me that it is truly a gift to care for another person..just as you have spoken…love can get even matter what age..

  7. May I just copy that….it is perfect. Taking care of one another is what it is all about….unconditionally.

  8. Am unsure whether I understand Love – perhaps it’s not meant to be understood but Felt – like fresh figs on the palette. Caring and nurturing are wonderful companions in Love, but too much of it can wither said Love. Warmly hope you are well.

  9. That’s a great photo — delightful testament to love and laughter! Your words, I’m sure, were treasured by all, not just the new couple. I find I can use them as inspiration as well — in a marriage of some longevity, it’s good to be reminded to look at one’s partner as someone to care for, to be kind to.
    We’re currently thinking about what to say at our daughter’s upcoming nuptials . . . it’s a privilege, but a tough one!

  10. Having been married now for a year and a half, I can say I already know the things you spoke about to be true. Gosh, what a lovely toast. And I might give your advice a try, too. Thank you for sharing it!

  11. That’s a great piece of advice. Sad that the room was noisy. You are tiny! How tall are you? And is your hair actually white? I’d always assumed blonde from your photo. Amazing to have a brother marry for the first time at 50. Hope all goes well for them.

  12. Lisa, what an amazing speech! Your brother and sister in law are lucky to have you as their Bodhisattva.

    I agree that there is another model for love, with the concentration on taking care of the other rather than connecting with the other to increase one’s own shine.

    For me, this idea is closely linked with the message of Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” which promotes helping other’s to acheive their dream.

    It is truly a gift to be able to take care of our loved ones.

  13. What an adorably sweet photo of all of you. I’m glad you wrote down your thoughts as I’m sure they will want to look back and remember them.

    Thank you for the email. You are incredible. I’ve been waiting to respond but would like to sit down with a block of time which I haven’t been able to do. I love your custom cookie idea! :)

  14. Wow. Loved seeing the great photo and then, as I sit here on Sunday evening amidst deafening, LFG gone home silence, I read your definitions on love. Your first characterization seems to align with the great lessons I learned from the Buddhists. And the second definition seems to me, so effing correct that I feel gut punched.

    There’s not one ounce of pessimism in either of your two characterizations. To hell with proof sources. At least for my benefit of buying-in. It resonates so clearly with me.

    But come to think of it, what makes me feel a bit gobsmacked isn’t solely the pragmatic granularity of your second characterization of love…it’s your concluding treatise on parental love. It’s the only type of love that I’m inclined of late, to really buy. But maybe it’s just because it’s Sunday night.

  15. What an extraordinary toast, and an even more insightful perspective on that which rules our hearts. (You also made me cry again, honestly, this is going to have to stop.)

    Thank you for sharing your outlook on such a critical part of life.

  16. Austria need those photo booths!! I remember it from your bloggers-convention last year. The photo(s) are great souvenir(s).

  17. Miranda – Thank you very much.

    Jeanne – My pleasure to visit you. Glad you like the layout.

    Jan – Thank you.

    agirl – Thank you.

    Marsha – I hadn’t even thought of this perspective. Love back to you.

    Mise – Can I just bring you wherever I go? Do you come in pocket size?

  18. Ida – Thank you so much.

    Laura – That it is.

    Kathy – Thank you.

    Aleatha – Ha! A generosity of soul is exactly it.

    Janet – If I think about it, it’s not an easy thing to do, forgive, unless you begin with that as a requirement. It’s so hard to undo resentment, once established. BTW, I love being called a doll:).

    K-Line – :).

  19. Merced – Pride, and maybe fear?

    Deja – Thank you.

    Patricia – I think that’s so true. This has to be reciprocated or the relationship becomes deeply unfair. And what a nice thing to say about my brother’s hair! I will pass it on.

    Hostess – Thank you. My brother and his wife were very generous in their thanks and affection.

    Louise – Thank you, for reading, and general being around.

    lisa – Lovely. Lovely.

  20. Stephanie – Yes, but wasn’t your husband nearby:)? xox

    pve – I am deeply honored.

    English Vers – Interesting perspective. Wither on which side, I wonder?

    Allie – Ha! You caught me! With any luck the wedding photos will have a record of my accompany shoes SOMEWHERE!

    mater – I have no doubt you and Pater will give a lovely toast. You know I admire your marriage longevity enormously.

    Meg – Thank you so much.

  21. Shelley – Thanks. I am somewhere between 5′ 5″ and 5′ 6″, depending on the mood of the measuring system:). My sister in law is very tall, my brother is 5′ 10, and I was scrunching down with laughter. My hair color is still figuring itself out. I stopped coloring it blonde last November. So far it appears to be, naturally, a mixture of gray, white, dark brown, and some actual blonde. The studio lighting of the photobooth makes everything lighter.

    DocP – Thank you!

    Belle – Aw. And I hadn’t thought about the linkage to Pausch, but you are so right.

    Pink Martini – Thank you. And I’m happy to answer your email – take all the time you like to reply, of course. I am always your friend. (don’t tell anyone, I had to look up Bodhisattva too:))

    Susan – My pleasure. Thank you again for reading.

    Aubergine – Oh thank you.

  22. ADG – Dude:). Monday has dawned. You would have had fun at the wedding, as would LFG. She could have sat at the kid’s table – they were so cute and many ages. The lack of pessimism is genetic. The late-acquired understanding, well, just late.

    TPP – xox. It’s an honor to speak to your feelings.

    Paula – They are easy to do, I believe. Set up a photographer’s white background, a good camera, and studio lighting. So. Much. Fun!

    Julia – Thank you very much.

  23. Beautiful. And wise. Your definition is something I have just been lately beginning to understand. Some of us are late bloomers.

  24. “Come to your loved one newly born.”
    If we could let go of the past, as though it did not exist…..if we could remember that love is a privelege and should never be thought of as a burden……how much closer would we be to creating that love we’ve always wished for? Stay…watch it develop and grow…..see it bloom each Spring because of the attention we shower on it thoughout the year.

  25. A beautiful gift of words to send a loving couple off on the adventure of a ‘lifetime’…all newly-weds should hear such a toast!
    You and the picture are adaorable!!
    xo J~

  26. In all love, be it parent, husband, child, pet or friend it is important to not keep score. Love because you want to, need to, or just can’t help it.

  27. I know this event was a labor of love for you , enjoyed the wedding pictures and being a fly on the wall of such a lovely and personal wedding, I know the bride and groom will be worshiping at you altar for years. pgt

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