Tag Archives: illusion

The Courage to Call Off the Wedding

Typically, I like my quiet time on a plane. But I couldn’t resist talking with the passenger next to me.  She volunteered that was getting away after calling off her wedding.

Her name was Ellen and she was in her late thirties. This would have been her second marriage. “It’s almost as complicated to call it off as it is to put it together,” she said. “Strange how everyone seems to take my decision personally. My parents,  my daughter, friends and co-workers, all trying to reassure me that it’s natural to feel nervous before your wedding. They’re saying that my fiancée is a good man, that I’m not getting any younger, that I always wanted to have another child. Why is everyone so involved in my decision?”

Ellen sounded like a woman who has the self-esteem and intelligence to listen to her heart and her intuition. I asked her what influenced her decision. She said there were red flags.

One was that her fiancée didn’t take her side when his mother criticized her. Ellen knew it would be a problem because ,when she pointed it out to him, he became defensive and told her she was being too sensitive.  He loved them both. Why should he have to choose between his mother and his wife?

Then there were his put downs and teasing, both public and private. Yes, he usually followed up with an ardent apology, but if he was behaving this way before marriage, what could she expect later?

“It’s the small things that bother me,” she said. “I kept thinking I was being petty, but how many times will I have to justify to myself that it doesn’t bother me when he holds his fork like he’s pitching hay, or talks with food in his mouth, or slurps his soup, or is rude to the waiter or dismissive to the receptionist, or, or , or………

“Ultimately, I didn’t feel like he was right for me,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable for my family and friends right now, so I thought I’d get away and let those who seem so heavily involved in my decision simmer down.”

I think Ellen was smart to call it off.  She knew she couldn’t change his behavior after marriage. She wasn’t apologetic for her decision. She did what she had to do to prevent a stressful marriage from disintegrating into a stressful divorce.

Life in a Random Universe

Two stories caught my eye this morning on the Huffington Post. A train wreck north of New York City that killed four people and injured 70. The train was scheduled to arrive at Grand Central Station an hour after it left Poughkeepsie. The crash is under investigation.

The second story concerned Paul Walker, the star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series, who died Saturday in a car crash outside Los Angeles. Walker, 40 years old, was a passenger in a friend’s car. A preliminary sheriff’s report cited speed as a factor in the crash.

Opposite sides of the country, different mode of travel, different reasons for the accidents, but something in common. We place our safety, often our life, in the hands of others. We assume they know what they’re doing; that they take their responsibility for our life seriously. We hope they are not distracted by their phone or compromised by alcohol or drugs. We take for granted that they know the rules of the road, and have the reflexes to respond to unexpected situations.

This is the stuff of everyday, ordinary life, not the hazards of being in a battle zone or a besieged territory in a third world country. It’s not the danger of being trampled to death at a Walmart on Black Friday, nor the randomness of being shot at or having the roof collapse at a mall.

We must believe that it’s safe to be a passenger instead of the driver. But when you get right down to it, even when we’re the driver, we have only the illusion of control. Irony,  coincidence and luck are always in the driver’s seat. That’s why gratitude is the antidote to life in a random universe.


Love and ‘Real’ Diamonds

Can he really love you if he buys you a ‘fake’ diamond?

What is a ‘real’ diamond? Chemically, it’s a collection of tiny crystals of carbon which take millions of years to form. Physically, the diamond is a stone. Financially, it’s expensive. Emotionally, it’s become the symbol of love.

When diamond prices collapsed during the Great Depression, an advertising agency came up with the idea of linking diamonds to love. The larger the diamond, the greater the love.

Romancing the stone was a huge success, forever instilling in the consciousness of men and women that a diamond engagement ring means ‘real’ love and is a prerequisite to marriage.

Scientists now make diamonds in the laboratory by crushing carbon, graphite and a ‘diamond’ seed in a pressure cooker. Four days later, the crushed core is removed to reveal a man-made diamond inside. Identical to a mined diamond on all counts – structurally, optically and chemically.

Emotionally? Here lie the dragons.

Tiffany runs full page ads showing a diamond ring with the caption  “This is What Love Looks Like” and  “A Diamond is Forever’. Love is linked to this cluster of carbon – with no intrinsic value other than that it cost a lot to buy it.

I wonder how long it will take the ‘fake’ diamond industry to create an alternative narrative so couples can learn to start saving money before they marry.

Any ideas for an advertising campaign?