I got married over 4 years ago, so between the toasting and the roasting, the memory of what my brother said may be a tad fuzzy, but there were some great take home points. I do recall him talking about how it’s traditional to say good things about the bride (his sister, myself) but that he was going to break from convention. Great!
I would like to bring up one of the concepts in a phenomenal book I read a few years ago: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I didn’t consider my brother’s wedding speech as such at that time. I don’t even think my brother intended it that way, but in looking back, it was a bigger message camouflaged in a story about my belligerent youth. In reality, the speech wasn’t about me, at all.
There was mention about how I always got my way and how my life seemed carefree. Something about how picky I was about how people pronounced my name. Then there was the realization that perhaps I too had my issues. Perhaps I was shadowed constantly as his sister, rather than my own self. This is where the message comes in. It was really about empathy. Didn’t think a motivational lecture would be slipped through with comic relief, but so we have it. I reflect back.
In life, I feel most people are self-centered. Let’s call them the centrics. There are a few that are empathetic. The thing with being centric is the notion that only you have problems. If you do acknowledge other’s problems, it’s only to show that your problems are greater. The other interesting thing about centrics is their belief that nothing good or great is happening to them and all the goodness and greatness is happening to other people. It’s the basic misconception that plagues our society.
How do we know the size of someone’s problems if we didn’t walk a mile in their shoes? How can we discount, the supposed happy faces hiding issues unless we asked? Similarly, how can we undermine someone’s good fortunes without truly realizing the efforts that it took them to get there. Somewhere, my brother had figured out that perhaps living in his shadow had caused me to be the way I was. Perhaps. Perhaps he moved out of his centric zone and realized that maybe my life wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. In that lesson, was a lesson to me that perhaps I need to move out of my centric zone too. Not just with my brother but with everyone. Everyone has a story, a reason and I do need to seek it and understand where they are coming from.
I am reminded of a friend of mine talking about her 3 year old son (not at the wedding). She simply said, “he hasn’t discovered the other people yet.” So, while I think about my life, I also think about others. The far side grass may be greener, but we don’t know it, unless we go there and see for ourselves. Are we focussing on their one blade of green grass in a vast yard of yellow? I know I’m exaggerating, but let’s be fair.
Recently, I can’t remember the exact example, but I was dealing with someone or thinking about a professional and thinking about how great their life was. Seemed so carefree and easy and they seemed to be making so much money for seemingly so little work and then it hit me. I hear it all the time about doctors. Patients think they make so much money and they hardly do anything. HA HA HA. For real? No one sees the years of hard work and sacrifice it took to make that journey to the top. Then I rethink my thoughts. Another mirage. Another grass is greener explosion. We just need to reconsider the other side.
As with my thoughts, I wandered into the notion about people who just have it easy because they do. You know? Inheritance? Maybe long term family wealth that allows them to do whatever without any work. Sure. They are there. But why would we want to waste our valuable time and resources thinking about that? Be happy for them and move on. Live your own life, not a life of comparison. If you are comparing, do so to learn and grow.
My brother talked about how I pursued what I wanted to pursue in life. I act. I pay the violin. I do what I want to do because I want to do it. Perhaps in his empathy, he has realized that life can be lived, so maybe I have taught him some things and in return learned to continue to live and be empathetic. Centrism must go!
My brother did not talk about gratitude though. Interesting. Most motivational lectures should have that critical part, but then my brother was doing a wedding speech. Or was he? Regardless, in the wisdom of a comical speech, there was the motivation for all of us to be better human beings.
Best to you all,