To the couple I saw getting married on the beach:
Congratulations. And thank you for allowing me, a total stranger, to throw rice at you as you left the public beach.
I was out for a sunset walk, barefoot, when an older woman in a fancy dress grabbed me and several beachgoers and asked if we wanted to throw Kraft Minute White Rice at you. What a treat.
We tossed rice by the handful while the wedding guitarist played the song “All You Need is Love.”
And I thought it was the perfect song for your big day.
The thing is, some people will tell you that you need more than love. They’ll tell you that you need money, a few cars, a three-bedroom-two-bath, a good job, great insurance, a dependable beer refrigerator, IRAs, etc.
Which scares a lot of young people away from getting married. But I’m glad it didn’t scare you two. Because marriage is the most fun you’ll ever have. Even more fun that throwing rice at strangers.
Once you’re hitched, you will learn big things. You’ll learn how to argue in the middle of Piggly Wiggly. You will understand that being “right” doesn’t mean jack squat. You’ll learn how quickly money vanishes. And you’ll finally understand what your mother meant about sharing.
Actually, that’s the best part about marriage. The sharing. It actually enhances day-to-day life, like a super-powered magnifying glass. I don’t know how it works, but it does.
I’ll explain what I mean:
I once visited the Grand Canyon by myself. I stopped by the Big Ditch. I snapped a few pictures, and hung out awhile. To be perfectly honest, it was uneventful. Don’t get me wrong, the view was incredible, but I had nobody to share it with.
A few years later, I took my wife to the Grand Canyon. This time the grandeur was amplified by 4,750,000 times. Same view; different experience.
That morning, my wife and I woke up early to see daybreak at the north rim. There were several tourists doing the same thing. When the orange sun lifted above the redwall limestone and granite, it was pure magic.
The only thing my wife and I could think to do in this moment was hug.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Hugging during a sunrise sounds really cheesy. And you’re right. It is cheesy, but do you know what I noticed that morning? Most other couples were hugging, too.
Everyone was showing some kind of affection. There was an elderly couple smooching. A young woman, secure in her husband’s arms. A middle-aged couple, touching foreheads.
This is precisely why I have always found it ironic that people claim this world is full of such horror. Experts love to talk about how the planet is overrun with bloodshed, greed, injustices, and worldwide hatred. But I don’t buy it. Certainly, those things exist.
But have you ever gone to an airport on a weekday? I wish more people could visit airports to watch passenger arrivals.
The first thing you will see in an airport are a bunch of people waiting for friends and family. You’ll see kids, dizzy with excitement. Parents, telling them to calm down. The whole place will be pregnant with anticipation.
A plane will arrive. A few hundred travel-weary passengers will exit, striding through the terminal, carrying luggage. And they will look so tired.
Then it will happen. The passengers will see people they love.
A businessman with a carry-on bag will see Her. His face will break into a tearful smile. They will collide into one another and kiss.
A woman dressed in hiking gear will throw her arms around a young man in a McDonald’s uniform.
An old man in a windbreaker will drop his luggage to hug his elderly wife and his three adult kids.
Soon, there will be a mass hugging like nothing you’ve ever seen. You will watch young lovers cry, and laugh. You will see children so full of electric joy they are glowing. You will see families run toward long-awaited fathers in military uniforms.
There will be bear hugs, bunny hugs, Yankee squeezes, Southern back-slaps, hand-holding, hair-petting, tear-wiping, piggy-back rides, Eskimo kisses, and embraces that last fifteen minutes. And you will wonder how anyone in their right mind could believe hate wins.
I am not a smart man, and I don’t have any advice for you two newlyweds. I don’t know what lies ahead of you. I don’t know whether you’ll have more good times than bad.
But I can tell you that marriage is a thrill. There will be moments when you realize how lucky you are, and it will overwhelm you with warmth.
There will be moments when you will wake up late at night, click on your bedside lamp, and just to look at the woman sleeping beside you. Her smooth cheekbones. Her dark hair. She’s been sleeping in this spot for the last eighteen years.
You will touch her face. She will let out a sleepy moan and mumble, “Turn the light off.”
But you won’t. Because all you can think about is a beach wedding you saw earlier that evening. You were a stranger on the sand, just walking by. The mother of the bride pulled you aside and asked you throw rice at a happy couple. You did. And it blessed your heart.
So you will stay up late, writing this. Because throwing that rice reminded you of what you believe about this earth. In fact, it is the only thing you know to be true in a frantic and unpredictable universe.
All you need is love.