exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
The Wedding Song
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The Wedding Song proclaims a vision of life, romance, and marriage as
“something never seen before.” But, we wonder, what might have been
left out in the message of 100,000 love songs? Let’s ask John and Mary
what they think.
The Soliloquies of John and Mary
You know John and Mary, of course, you do. Everybody knows John and
Mary, real nice young people. They’re part of your church and neighborhood, and we see them everywhere. Good kids. Well, it’s a pretty big day for them, they’re getting married this morning. Let's listen in on their conscious and subliminal thoughts:
Mary’s a great girl. I’m lucky to have her. I know she’ll make a great
wife and mother. And I do love her. I mean... of course, I do... funny, why did I need to say that? That’s strange because Mary is really nice... I mean, I used to go out with some other girls who were fun, if you know what I mean... but, anyway, Dad’s right, life is more than fun. My time for sowing wild oats is over now, time to settle down... and anyway, Mary is fun, too. She likes to laugh and joke, and she’s smart and competent, and she’s a great manager and knows how to get things done; and she’s very pretty, as well, even Mom admitted that... it’s just that, I don’t know, the picture is perfect in many ways, but, even so, there’s something about it... well, it doesn’t matter, I guess, because I’ve come to realize that marriage will be more than “splendor in the grass” and one big continuous high; that’s not realistic, no one has that… but, anyway, as I said, Mary will make a great wife, I know she will, and we’ll be fine, and we’ll have a nice big house filled with lots of nice things, and we’ll have the perfect family. And it’s high time for me now, as Dad keeps saying, to get serious about life, no more fooling around. It won’t be long before I’m 30, and I haven’t even done anything yet, and I’m starting to feel a little edgy about that. I need to make my work front-and-center now. I mean, Mary is important to me, too, of course, she is, and the future kids, they’re important, too. But, hey, life is rough out there, and I have to make sure the family has the money we’ll need to have a good life. I have to think about that very seriously, don’t I? - why, sure I do, who could argue with that? And I know that Mary, with her competence, will keep the home-front running smoothly, with the kids and all, and I’ll be able to concentrate on my career. I know Mary wants to work, too, which is good, we can use the extra money, but it’s my job as head of the house to make sure that it all comes together. I mean, men are supposed to be the breadwinners, right? That’s my job, isn’t it? We’re supposed to get out there in the trenches and make a difference, aren’t we? I think Mary will understand my insistence on making my work important and spending the hours to make it happen... And, I have to admit, it will be so nice just to come home after a hard day's work and sleep with a pretty woman. I need that pleasure in my stressful life... Anyway, I’m sooo tired of Dad pushing me to buckle down, to get a good girl, and finally put my life in order so I can make my mark on the world… There’s nothing wrong with all this is there?
John is a level-headed man with good character. I’m lucky to have him. I remember those other guys who wasted my time, and I couldn’t depend on them; all they wanted was cheap thrills and good times and they would let me down. But John is serious minded and hard working. And I know he'll be a steady partner in building our family. And I can already see those little kids, and I love them already. I hope for a little girl and a little boy, but I have especially dreamed of having a baby girl since I was a teen. I know we'll all be happy in our nice house, and those babies will make us happy. I mean, well, it's not just the babies alone, of course... I mean, I do love John, sure I do, and he'll make me happy, too... well, why am I telling myself that? Anyway, it's time to put away pink-cloud dreams about life. I'm not sure why I'm bringing all this up - as I said, John is a good man, and I do love him, and I'm lucky to have him... I think I just said that... Ok, alright, maybe John wasn't my number one all-time prince charming, and maybe he wasn’t my absolute first choice, but it’s not an ideal world out there where we get everything we want, and John’s a dependable man. I mean, how long was I supposed to wait, anyway, with the clock ticking and all that? It’s just pie-in-the-sky to think that I would ever find Mr. Perfect, that's just kids-stuff. Yeah, I know, when I was a girl I dreamed about having more, but it's time to face the music. Maybe John isn't that romantic “glass of spiced red wine in a crystal goblet at a nightclub” that I really wanted, and maybe he is just a “plastic cup of warm milk while watching old reruns at home,” but he's a cup of warm milk in a cold world, and I've decided to settle for that... Is that really so bad? What's wrong with that? John can be counted on as we make our way in this harsh and difficult world. Isn't that enough? I mean, marriage is more than flowers-and-candy and a roll-in-the-hay, isn't it? Get over it, girl, of course, it is! It's about babies, and kids growing up, and watching them take their first steps, and Christmas mornings, and grandparents visiting, and birthday parties for five-year-olds, and tooth-fairies for tots, and sharing all those happy things that families do, and then not growing old alone. I mean, isn't that what a woman is supposed to do here? Isn't life really about kids and family and doing the right thing that way? ... And, I have to admit, it really did feel so good to be accepted and chosen by someone. I was starting to be depressed and afraid I'd be left on the shelf to face the disgrace of not being wanted; not to mention I was getting sooo tired of Mom calling me every Friday night, asking if I'd found a good man yet, and then kindly reminding me that I'm a week older and not getting any younger. Dear God in heaven, how glad I am that's over! Well, anyway... there's nothing wrong with all this is there?
John and Mary are quite correct. There’s nothing wrong with any of this;
but, as they will come to see -- increasingly so, as the years pass, during
those sleepless nights of 3 AM brutal introspection, and in tortured dreams wherein no lie can exist -- there’s nothing particularly right with it, either.
The soliloquies of John and Mary represent typical utilitarian "cares of this world" views of marriage. These two, as we say, are "getting married," about to enter a domestic business contract; married, as Elizabeth Barrett asserted, "for a reason." The Wedding Song, however, knows nothing of this pragmatic "buying and selling" negotiation; instead, it insists on an "ultimate reality" perspective of eternal romance “never seen before.”
Mary, dear girl, is distracted today and in no mood to entertain matters of such high moment. Right now she's all smiles, the biggest smiles of her young life, so very excited about embarking upon her longed-for happiness. Mary's not ready to see more clearly; not yet. She seems to have forgotten -- but will soon be jarred into remembrance -- that, when she was a little girl, a cup of warm milk would make her nauseous; and, if they made her swallow enough of it... she would vomit.
Smallville, season 1, episode 5
Clark comments that he'd grown up with Lana, on adjacent farms, just one mile apart. Yet, he acknowledges, they don’t really know each other well. Does anyone. Even so, says Lana, Clark seems to be the only one who understands her -- a truth admitted, but too-easily discarded. Clark loves Lana but, in his non-flashy way, has not been able to tell her. Lana now circulates in a different orbit as one of the leading figures in a vacuous high school "Hollywood" culture. And, in blatant "sin against true romance," muting the inner-whispering of her deeper person, she has chosen to be with someone incommensurate with her nature.
Clark: (exasperated) “Why do you go out with him?”
Lana: (half-heartedly) “He’s there for me. He makes me feel safe.”
Lana doesn't get it. Right now she's too interested in being "chosen" and "accepted." She articulates the philosophical position of most women named Mary. It’s the famous “warm, safe, and dry” argument; it's worked out so well for adherents thereof. Soon she'll enter the ranks of Ann Landers’ “miserably married.” This Mary will wed in haste; and repent at leisure, over the coming decades. She'll discover the hard-edged reality, in sorrow and tears, of the Troubadour Guides’ dictum:
You’re not supposed to be with someone because he makes you feel safe or accepted; you’re supposed to prepare for, and wait for, that person, one particular person, who will lead you to "the joy" and makes you feel alive!
Even if he is a bit Clark-ish.
Editor’s note: In the “Cultism” article we learned that anything can be turned into a cult. It happens anytime a personal responsibility to face life courageously, to trust one's true self, is traded for a cheap promise by some “strong father-figure” to provide safety, risk-free passage, and certainty. Many, maybe most, of so-called marriages of this world fall somewhere within this untoward continuum. Mary, if she’s not very careful and “open eyed,” will do almost anything to be “accepted,” to find her sense of self-worth and significance by giving herself to some man. And John, in this dysfunctional “dance with the devil” dynamic, is all too willing to accommodate her fears, to rule over her, posturing himself as source of Mary’s salvation. Well, it’s an old story, and it’s had a long run, but little wonder that these ersatz marriages will not see transfer to Summerland.
Fate, destiny, and green-kryptonite meteor showers align against Lana and Clark. No matter the hidden intentions of their hearts, nothing goes right for them just now. It’s always something keeping them apart. They enter a time of out-of-phase love: he’s ready, but she’s not, then he’s with someone else, and now she’s on the outside looking in.
Lana: (wistfully) "Sometimes the right person can be right in front of your eyes, and you never even know it." (season 1, episode 19)
Amen, Lana. Our advice to her: Your eyes have their own x-ray vision, if you will only trust what you know to be true, on the deep-inside. In place since you were a little girl playing with Clark next door, you'll find your "constructive assent" guidance-system whispering to you.
be careful, Clark, you're not wearing your glasses, and she might realize your secret Twin-Soul identity; but a word of caution to Lana, too: watch out for those laconic, unpretentious farm boys – they’re the most dangerous