I’ve been noticing a lot of wedding anniversaries within CMC recently. June is a good time to get married, and Abbie and I have been a part of that club for 13 years now. On Tuesday David Brooks wrote a lovely Op-Ed in the NY Times called “Rhapsody in Realism, ” a reflection on the beauty of flawed people making marriage work. He cites an article on marriage he has appreciated whose first piece of advice was “Go to bed mad.” Don’t stay up too late until everything’s perfect. Get some sleep and “in the morning, eat some pancakes. Everything will seem better.”
He also quotes Immanuel Kant who said, “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.” Having a crooked timber mentality helps keep expectations for one’s partner and one’s self realistic. He ends his essay with these words:
Great and small enterprises often have two births: first in purity, then in maturity. The idealism of the Declaration of Independence gave way to the cold-eyed balances of the Constitution. Love starts in passion and ends in car pools.
The beauty of the first birth comes from the lofty hopes, but the beauty of the second birth comes when people begin to love frailty. (Have you noticed that people from ugly places love their cities more tenaciously than people from beautiful cities?)
The mature people one meets often have this crooked timber view, having learned from experience the intransigence of imperfection and how to make a friend of every stupid stumble. As Thornton Wilder once put it, “In love’s service only wounded soldiers can serve.”
A blessing to those crooked timbers among us whose eyes still sparkle with the lofty hopes of the first birth and who are learning to love the frailty within the second birth. Here’s to many more years.