Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Your Argument is Invalid

Leia and Mark are truly two of the most extraordinary individuals I have had the pleasure to work with. Here are the personal remarks that I shared with them and their guests:

I have an app on my iPod called Demotivational Pics, that follows the Dilbert tradition of making fun of the absurdities of corporate culture. It takes the tired idea of the corporate office, where all employees need to do their job well are some motivational pictures on the wall, and turns it on its head. From time to time, they actually violate their own rule, and show a really motivating picture, though decidedly not the type you would see in the dreary paper pushing abode. Usually, it shows someone doing some type of impossible feat, with the humor coming from the caption that says just this., "YOUR argument is invalid..."

I thought about this when I sat down to write about Leia and Mark. I thought I might actually make a little poster for myself of just Leia and Mark smiling at me with that very caption. Then whenever I had a particularly bad day, and felt really unable to deal with a specific challenge, I could pull out the little poster of Leia and Mark, and read out loud to myself, "Your argument is invalid..."

You see, Leia and Mark were each dealt a couple of bad hands along the way. When you are dealt a bad hand, one can really blame you for folding. It is understandable. Well, to each of these two understandable just didn't cut it. They looked at the hand they were each dealt, and they pushed their chips to the middle of the table, and said, "Your argument is invalid."

Here is the coolest thing about these two though. Sometimes, when one overcomes challenges, it can make one a little tone deaf to the challenges of others. After all, you might say to yourself, if I was able to overcome on my own, why can't this other person? Not, Leia and Mark, though. You could scarcely imagine a more tolerant and understanding couple. Just look at what they each do for a living, and you immediately can see, that they are all about holding themselves to the highest standard, while doing their best to lend a helping hand and giving a leg up to those less fortunate.

Leia and Mark, thank you for this double lesson. Thank you for strengthening our resolve to challenge ourselves, while helping others with the utmost compassion. May you continue to serve as such a wonderful example for others.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Journey, Not the Destination

Emily and Jeff contacted me because they decided to have their destination wedding in beautiful Austin, Texas. At the time, they were living in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand. Little did they know that they were contacting the former rabbi of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation. Small world! Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

When Emily and Jeff contacted me to officiate their wedding, I was delighted to find out where they were living, in dreamy Wellington, New Zealand, where I myself had lived for two years in the late 90s. It was, however, their personal journeys, their strong love for each other, and their beautiful love story that really fascinated me. They really mean what we just heard, “If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. If the mountains should crumble to the sea, there would still be you and me.”

What is their secret? It’s really kind of simple. They have truly lived their lives in the best way possible, with the realization that it is the journey that matters, not the destination. They have sought to learn and self-reflect, as individuals and as a couple in a way that goes beyond what most couples do. It is this approach that has allowed each of them to become a better person by learning from the other. It is this approach that has pushed them to seize life by the horns. It is this approach that allows them, nay drives them to live their dreams and strive towards an even better future together.

So, Emily and Jeff, thank you for setting such a great example for the rest of us for how one can love and live life to the fullest in the present and strive towards the future. With that, let's start that future now!

Friday, May 25, 2012


Every relationship ideally should evolve. Ashley and David know that, and reflect that in their life together. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Couples with really solid relationships will tell you that their relationship did not spring into being. The Hollywood myth of love at first sight is really just a myth. Really solid relationships, like the one Ashley and David have, are works in progress that continuously evolve, where the partners continuously strive for perfection through persistent growth.

Indeed, Ashley and David describe their relationship as a "constant evolution of what it really means to be in a close intimate partnership. [It is] to give and take, agree and disagree, learn and love and grow and experience each and every new chapter of this crazy ride called life together."

Ashley and David, you have come upon a great truth here. Thinking that your relationship springs into being fully formed, ready to go, perfect and constant, well, that can lead to much heartbreak and little happiness.

Understanding, on the other hand, like you do, that your relationship is an evolving entity, a journey together of ebb and of flow, of up and of down, is different. It is that understanding that can lead to a joyous life, where you slowly and methodically inch towards perfection.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Destiny

Once again, sharing an iTunes account with my (almost) 18 year old came in handy. Read how, in my remarks to Jeri and David, and their guests:

Jeri and David share a unique love story. It is a story that began years ago. It is a story that involved twists and turns. It is a story that involved an epic journey to where they are today. It is a story of Jeri and David's destiny to be together, as one.

Thinking about Jeri and David reminded me of a song by one of my daughter's favorite singers, a Swedish artist who goes by the moniker, Velvet. The name of the song is "My Destiny", and it could have been written about Jeri and David. Here are a few lines:

Sorrow in my face
Then you would embrace me
There were times I chased every dream
I've been running far to see
My destiny
Has been touched by your heart
My destiny
Never tear us apart
Love is a mirror that shines through your eyes
I've finally realized
How I trust in you
Like you trust in me
I know that we're meant to be

This reminded me of a fascinating Talmudic passage. The Talmud states that 40 days before an embryo is formed, a heavenly voice will exclaim, "the daughter of so and so will marry so and so." Think about that. The rabbis are saying that each of us has that one person we are in fact meant to be with!

Now, that might lead you to think that this whole matchmaking thing is really easy. Not so fast. The Talmud also says that ever since God finished all that heavy lifting involved with creating the world, he devotes most of his time to what? Matchmaking.

So what is going on here? Is marrying one's soul mate a foregone conclusion, or is it something one has to work at?

Jeri and David helped me answer this question. It is really a little bit of both. Anyone who knows Jeri and David, and knows their story, knows that these two belong together. This couple was meant, nay destined, to be together. That said, they also show us that you can't just sit back and wait for fate to take its course. That is not what destiny is all about. Destiny is about making a choice of how and with whom you will share your life and your love. Destiny is about never giving up on your dreams. Destiny is about charting your course towards what is meant to be, and turning it into a reality. Just like Jeri and David did...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Being Your True Self

Can there be anything more important than being your true self? Not according to Allison and David. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests, that reflect just that:

In an episode of 30 Rock about 15 months back, Jack, played by Alec Baldwin, is preparing his staff for a visit of some executives from their parent company, Kabletown. As they are about to arrive, he has a few last words of encouragement and preparation, "OK, remember everyone, just DON'T be yourselves..."

Now, like all great satire, this idea is funny, because it is a slightly modified portrayal of what is only true. All of us have had a boss at some point, who implicitly, if not explicitly, told us what Jack tells his staff. Beyond that, we all have an internal Jack, who - let's face it - in most situations in life tells us not to be ourselves.

It is therefore refreshing, when Allison writes about her first date with David, "I had never met someone with whom I felt at ease so instantly. It was so easy to just be myself around him." She also says that he is much the same with her, that he, "is such an open book", and that he is "an amazing communicator.

Essentially, what Allison is saying is that with each other, they are able to be their true selves. That, I believe is what true and deep love is all about. It is about not having to put up a facade. It is about being able to let your guard down. It is about allowing your inner most self come out. That is what Allison and David's love is all about.

Allison and David, may you throughout the years and decades together be your true selves with each other, and through that may you both flourish and continue to grow, as individuals and as a couple.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I don’t remember when, but I saw a really cool TED talk by Neil Pasricha, where he spoke about his 1000 awesome things project. Corie and Jeffrey unwittingly sent me back in his direction. Here are my remarks from their wedding:

I am always fascinated with how couples describe their love for each other. In talking with Corie and Jeffrey, they mentioned two things you hardly ever hear in this context in the real world. Corie said that her love for Jeffrey was love at first sight, and Jeffrey said he still gets butterflies in his stomach every time he sees Corie.

Now, did you ever ask yourself why people get butterflies? Leave it to the groom who is an MD to pique my curiosity in this scientific question! So I googled the phrase, and a really cool website was one of the first hits, Neil Pasricha's His awesome thing #259 is what Jeffrey is talking about. First he answers my question, why does this happen:

"Scientists suggest the fluttery feeling of buttery flies in your tum tum just comes from blood flowing away from your digestive system and zooming everywhere else in your body." He says that the reason for that is embedded deep in our genes, and is part of what scientists call the fight or flight reaction. When the body is challenged, it momentarily shuts down the parts not important to it in dealing with the challenge, like the stomach.

He poetically continues, and here is where he really resonates with me. "Because when you get the good kind of stomach butterflies it means you’re burning and buzzing about a big day. After rehearsing for months your play finally comes, after that electric first kiss you’re dreaming about bliss, after practicing all year the big game is here.

Yes, when your mind opens up, when your path starts to clear, when you know where you’re going, when you start to get near… well those are the moments we live for and those are the times to go long, yes those are the moments to go for and those are the times to be strong. Awesome!"

Wow! Awesome, indeed. You see, if we take that and extrapolate from it to Corie and Jeffrey, it tells you how special and unique their relationship is. After all anyone who knows them will tell you that these are not just two love struck kids. In fact, Jeffrey will tell you that he feels like he has known Corie for many years. And Corie will tell you that what cemented her love at first sight for Jeffrey was how great a father he was. In other words, these are serious individuals with a love that runs very deep.

It is specifically when coupled with that depth, that the butterfly feeling is so special. These two (actually three with Griffin) are just so excited about becoming a family. These two keep their love so fresh. These two will tell you how lucky and special they feel not about today, the wedding, but about today and every day after that, the marriage. Now that is truly and utterly awesome. With that, let's get you two awesome people, Corie and Jeffrey, married without further ado!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

It’s All About Teamwork

Simmi and Will had a really cool wedding day. In the morning they had a Sikh ceremony at the Temple that Simmi’s folks attend. In the evening we had a Jewish ceremony. Here are the personal remarks I shared with these two up and coming doctors to be and their guests:

There is a story about two Jewish grandmothers, Sadie and Goldie, who meet in the park. (The story might work equally as well with regard to Indian parents, as you’ll see in a second.) Anyway, Sadie, happens to have her two small grandchildren in tow. Goldie says to her, “Ohhhh, so who are these handsome young men?” Sadie, immediately answers pointing to each of them in turn, “Oh, well the seven year old, he’s the doctor, and the five year old, he’s the lawyer…”

So, the fact that both of these talented individuals are headed off to career in medicine is hardly surprising. One thing that did surprise me, though, is that Will was an important member of the rowing team at USC. Let’s face it, we Jews are not well known for our sports prowess. Will is the exception amongst Jewish kids in this area. I do believe, though, that functioning as a team has many great lessons for married life, and for a professional life in the medical field.

The wonderful thing about Simmi and Will is that they are truly a team, and they are always trying to improve their team work. They understand that for team Sandhu-Morris to function, it must operate as a true and equal partnership. Even more important, and this is true for every team, it involves sacrifice on the part of all individuals on the team.

Simmi and Will have experienced this self sacrifice first hand. I am writing these remarks shortly after "match day" a simultaneously anticipated and dreaded day in the community of medical students. (Grab a drink and a medical student or doctor during the reception, and they will explain this to you.) When couples like Simmi and Will seek to be matched with medical institutions for residency, that involves much self sacrifice, as they are consciously limiting their options, so they can stay together.

This teamwork and self sacrifice has brought Simmi and Will even closer to each other. With this couple, you can really see that when you do something for your teammate, for your partner, for your lover, you're not really "taking one for the team". In fact, you are making yourself and your team even stronger.

In that spirit, and if you'll excuse the mixing of the metaphors, let's play ball...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Tremendous Amount of Love and Caring

Between the both of them Cynthia and Mike have more degrees than a thermometer. What is really impressive about them is what wonderful and loving parents they are. Here are the remarks I shared with them:

While working with a couple on their ceremony, I spend time talking to them, and getting to know them. I also have each person write an autobiographical essay. When I write the draft of the ceremony, I usually go back and reread those essays, and use them as my starting point or launching pad for these very remarks.

After all, as engineers like Cynthia and Mike might tell you, you can learn a lot about any entity through analyzing a product they made. That is true for a company that makes seats for airplanes, and it is true for individual people too.

The thing is that with Cynthia and Mike, just from meeting with them, I got to see much more than with the average couple. Every time I met with them, I got to meet Luna too. (At her request, I even got to do something I had never done before, read a child a book in Spanish.) Any couple who has a child will tell you how much that changes their lives, as individuals and as lovers. It may sound like a cliché, but it is very true. If you do things right, like Cynthia and Mike, it causes your love to really mature and take form. Beyond that, and I speak here as a former assistant principal, you can learn a lot about people just from observing parents interact with their children, and even just from your own interaction with their children.

What you learn from observing Cynthia and Mike with Luna, and from spending even a few moments with Luna herself is unmistakable. There is a tremendous amount of love and caring in this young family. So, Cynthia and Mike, what is it we wish for you? Well, that you stay the course, that you keep doing what you are doing, that you continue strengthening this very bond of mutual love and caring within your little family.