Ordinary Heroes

[Speech at my wedding]

I was at a wedding recently, a small affair, with less than 50 guests. The bride and groom had pared down their guests list with great discipline!

If you’ve seen my desk at work, you know I do not have that discipline.

So… here you are. All 250 or so of you.

Each of those less than 50 guests had a personal card from either the bride or groom, and my card described an incident that I only vaguely remember, but which the groom said had touched him.

And it occurred to me that most of the time, that is how we affect and influence people around us – it is not from our extraordinary efforts, but from our ordinary efforts. It is what we consider normal, usual, expected, unremarkable, ordinary efforts.

But is it precisely because we do it simply without fanfare, without drawing attention to ourselves that makes what we ordinarily do, extraordinary. It is because we do not see what others may call a sacrifice as a sacrifice that makes it extraordinary.

I had a bookmark when I was a student. It read, “the only immorality is not doing what must be done when it must be done.”

And this is what you do. Heroes don’t set out to do heroic things. Heroes are simply people doing what must be done when it must be done, or it would be immoral.  And it is done not for glory. Or recognition. Or praise. Or because it is your job, or your duty. It may well be your job or your duty, but that is not the main reason you do it. You do it simply because it is the thing to do. Your morality compels you. Your sense of “rightness” cannot allow you to look the other way. Your whole being brings you to the ONLY conclusion and decision you can make and action you can take.

I see this in PL. I see this in you.

So, here you are. My friends. My guests. My ordinary heroes.

You are here because you have all influenced and/or impressed PL and me in some way. Not by extraordinary effort. But simply by doing what you think, what you believe, must be done, in the ordinary course of your day.

And on this our special day, we want to tell you that you have influenced us, been an example to, and a role model for us. We want you to be here to be witness to the start of our marriage, so that you will know and understand that if this doesn’t work out, IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT for being inadequate role models!

(Some of you knew that twist was coming, didn’t you?)

I find myself touched by the simple heartfelt words and wishes that many of you have expressed to us, through messages or email. It is humbling and gratifying to hear your good wishes for our happiness. And thank you for sending your wishes by email or other electronic means. I am sure you appreciated not seeing my tears in person. And if you didn’t send a message, thank you for not being mushy. It is also appreciated.

Words are only words, and I am not going to be able to express the complexity and sublimity of the feelings I have experienced this day, and the days leading up to today.

And I have always been a little wary of words. Over time I have become less enamored with words. So if I were marrying PL 10 years ago, I might have tried to impress upon you all how much I love her and how this is the greatest love the world has ever known. And while this may be true from a personal perspective, I would probably have been… exaggerating.

If I were marrying her 20 years ago, I might have painted a glorious future of grand ambition – probably to impress all the other women who had spurned me and to tell them just what they were missing.

And If I were marrying her 30 years ago… well, I would have been arrested because PL would have been under-aged.

The speech a groom gives at his wedding is usually said to be his last independent words, the last word he speaks freely before his wife controls everything he says or thinks. So you are all privileged to hear my last free, independent words.

I thought of what my last, free words should be. Being me, I wanted it to be funny.

“Help!” was one option.

“Save me” was another contender.

But sometimes comedy needs to take a backseat, and this is one such time. So my last Free words to you are, “thank you”.

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One Response to Ordinary Heroes

  1. Pingback: Four Years on… | PL And G Together

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