I’m brand new at my job. In a middle age kind of way, with a lot of water under my bridge, all the diverging and improbable paths having led me to this place of being a Marriage Officiant and Funeral Celebrant. I arrive at this crossroad somewhat patched together, surprisingly coordinated, and unexpectedly, down-to-the shoes comfortable. It’s as if I’ve slipped into a new-to-me outfit from the consignment store, and it fits like a dream. I walk out of the store and I feel like a million bucks. If I don’t go bragging about where I got it from, people will just assume I always look like this – you know, the label, the fit, the colour, all working. But whenever anyone compliments me on an outfit, I feel compelled to tell them the truth. Why can’t I just learn to say thank you?
Same with the job. I keep blurting out - I’m new at this. When someone asks for my business cards, I have to fumble for them, and don’t I say it again with a shrug of my shoulders and a shy smile, I just got these. Not so much to excuse myself, more because I can’t believe my luck. The outfit. Silk. Really, really nice cut, and designer made. Why can’t I just show up, polished and professional, oozing confidence, wagging my wrist in a way that vaguely alludes to the hundreds of ceremonies, the thousands of satisfied couples that stand behind me? Calmly assuring to the fresh-faced couple in front of me who want so badly to make the right decision about everything related to their wedding day that I am without a doubt one of those perfect decisions.
Because if I did that, I’d miss this moment. The moment before I’m an expert. I’d miss being fresh, too, and excited, and perfectly aligned with the couple in front of me: a little unsure, giddily happy, and frankly in love. So pleased to have found this partnership. So honoured to be asked to participate in life’s important events. Poised on the creative edge, that raw moment of knowing that something beautiful will spring from the conversation between the three of us, but not absolutely sure what it will look like. Committed to go where we’ve never been before, to come up with something unique and memorable, for a day that will live in their memory for their lifetime.
The (few) couples I have met so far are on the same kind of steep learning curve as I am. At the first conversation, they are newbies, having made a phone call or two to confirm the venue, maybe the photographer. (Booking a marriage officiant is one of the those important, early decisions) Over the next few months, they settle in as an engaged couple, slowly gaining confidence about what their day will look like, and why. Getting to enjoy each other better as a creative unit, designing their future together. By the time I stand beside them, some time from now, and listen to them speak the vows they wrote together after months and months of thought, we will all feel pretty relaxed and confident. In a butterfly and bird-song sort of way.
And then in a blink, it’ll be over. No longer fledglings at the getting married business, they will have plenty of advice for their friends about what to do and not do for a wedding. And just when they relax into being experts at getting married, the newly-wed beginning beckons, urging them to release into another “not knowing”. And so it goes. Life is not the straight uphill climb I imagined it to be when I was twenty. Instead, I have found life to be a series of spirals, a circling breath around beginnings and endings, learning and letting go.
I have for much of my life, lived into the future of “when I… and once this…and after such and such…I will be…” These days my challenge is to be here and now, fully present to the next breath. Learning to let go of the need for expertise and knowing, and open instead to whatever Life asks of me next.
Naturally I use my vast wisdom to remind my couples to try to be present to this time. To pay attention to the months approaching the wedding, and drink in what it means to be fully “engaged”. I encourage them not to hurry away the months to the wedding, but to enjoy the process. Which is my way of reminding myself not to get too far ahead of myself, or distracted by the ideal future where I’ll be confident and capable, with many, many weddings under my belt.
So here I am. Brand new Marriage Officiant, booking weddings for 2014. Ready to exhale, at another opportunity for an unexplored beginning. With that thought, I breathe out, but not before I take a twirl in gratitude.