You can never step into the same river, for new waters are flowing on to you. – Hericlitus
Happily ever after begins – with a hint of autumn in the air and a crisp fresh sense of new adventure.
Tropical temps in early September lulled us, and pics all over Facebook kept our son’s destination wedding on our minds. Life seemed in slow motion. The residue of a wonderful last week of August with family and friends celebrating the event – that seemed so far away last year at this time – clung like honey to my smiling heart.
The uncharacteristic heat and humidity when we landed at Detroit Metro kept the feeling going for days after; and I dreamily delayed unpacking my suitcase stuffed with swimsuits and breezy dresses. As usual in Michigan, though, the changing weather snaps you back to reality.
The new reality: Summer enchantment fades into a beautiful memory – of the magic and mystique of a wedding in Mexico, on the Mayan Riviera, on the seashore in Yucatan. Life will never be the same again. A new island in the stream lies ahead. New waters flow all around.
You know that sometimes in life, a crossroads beckons. That is, it seems to beckon you, yet suddenly, you’re there; and you can’t quite recall how you got there. Your boat lands on the island. You know you’ve had no other choice than to be there. You know your life is changing. A new chapter is beginning.
The “Happily Ever After Party” – inviting folks to celebrate the marriage – took place at the hillside home of the bride and groom. Symbolically, the colorful circus tent on the still-green lawn mirrored the party theme, “with dinner and merriment to follow.” Yet, the chill of autumn that day reminded everyone that summer dreams were memories. Time to cozy up and bring out the fleece jackets, sweaters and think about bonfires and toasting marshmallows.
My father-in-law became chilled, as well; and we left earlier than planned. A new adventure begins for him, too, as he settles into an independent living situation – moving back to his hometown in Michigan after 36 years a Florida snowbird.
While I realize these life transitions are major; and I realize that normally, I’d be apprehensive about such change happening all at once, for some reason, this time, I’m not. For some reason, at this crossroads, my heart is still smiling. I’m giving a toast to going with the flow. Cheers! I declare, to new adventures. What on earth happened, I wonder, to transform my attitude about how I deal with change?
It occurred to me that perhaps I was under a magic spell. Could I be? Maybe I’m different now, because of my experience in Mexico. Maybe the beauty and mystique of the Yucatan, the Mayan hospitality, the time away at our destination wedding…all combined somehow to alter my senses. My entire perspective on life seems to have shifted. Cheers! May it last awhile.
Can an aesthetic experience be healing?
When I returned home at the end of August, I found that email headline in my inbox. Author, artist and teacher Henry Reed, creator of the Intuitive Heart Discovery Program, posed the question to his readers in his weekly newsletter.
I’m a firm believer in the power of aesthetic experiences to assist us in transformation. My personal theme in life is to continually be open to beauty and to seek beauty in ordinary moments. For me, this focus adds joy and meaning to life. So, I perked up, thinking about my recent experience and its effect.
Reed put forth the subject of joy and healing, as well: Can we learn and heal, for example, through joy? Ah, the JOY factor. Naturally, the appreciation of beauty and joy would seem connected. I’m thinking of an aesthetic experience, Reed adds. There’s a lot of overlap between the arts and healing. I agree. I think an aesthetic experience – like great art or music or going on vacation to a beautiful place – can be healing and can transform us.
People keep asking me about the trip. How was it? What made it different? How did you feel? They’re curious about destination weddings (as in, what’s the big deal?) For me, their queries bump up with Reed’s, dovetailing the aspects of beauty and joy.
Our daughter, in her blog about the wedding week, captures perfectly its effect on all of us. Mom’s grateful for her writing of this time, putting it into words so much better than I could – as if you’re actually there with us:
Picture 24 people – parents, siblings, friends, relatives, spouses, many meeting for the first time, staying at a resort together for an entire week. Vacationing with other people increases, exponentially, potential for disaster; this turned into one of the best vacations ever. How? These were cool people. Chill people. And ‘chill people’ at the ‘chill pool’ made for a ‘chill wedding’. Everyone was just happy to hang out and enjoy themselves, do their own thing and not fuss.
Do you begin to get the idea?
Chill Pool: It’s a Wonderful Life, Somewhere over the Rainbow Two movies came to mind on the eve of the wedding…well four movies, if you count It’s a Wonderful Life, Somewhere over the Rainbow, Star Wars and even Princess Bride (noted in Marya’s blog:
One of my favorite scenes in this Cancun wedding movie… I mean, experience… is the Chill Pool section of her blog on down through the Simply Serene Ceremony, Rainy Reception, and It’s a Wonderful Life. All of it describes the storybook atmosphere of the wedding and how it got to the It’s a Wonderful Life moment.
It’s more fun to read the sequence of events in her blog, but in a nutshell: The wedding reception was poolside, the temperatures were tropical August humid… and then:
as the cake was served, it began to sprinkle… then pour a little harder. Awwwww…darn it. We all huddled under various canopy beds lining the pool while 2 guests remained seated and refused to let the rain spoil their cake-eating experience. About 10 minutes later, after becoming completely soaked, I can only imagine the thought that probably went through their heads: Screw it, I’m already wet‘.
It’s A Wonderful Life
Remember the high-school dance scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life”? The gymnasium floor cracks open revealing a pool underneath. Unwittingly, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are dancing perilously close to the edge, assuming theirs must be THE best Charleston judging from the startled oohs and ahhhs of their spectators. At the height of their boogying bliss…“Hey, we must really be good!”… they tumble backwards, right into the pool… yet continue dancing unabashedly. Everyone else gasps and then jumps in after realizing: ‘What the heck. That looks like fun!’
Yeah, it was kinda like that.
So one drenched cake-eater jumps in the pool. Then the other. What?! Crazy people, right? But then another couple jumps in…then another. Ohhhh! No they didn’t! The bride and groom jump in! In full wedding attire! It was all over after that. Our pool-jumping partiers defied the rain and filled the night with child-like giggles of delight, whoot-whoots, clapping, arm-waving, splashing, singing and dancing to Robin Thicke and Bruno Mars. After several minutes trying to take pictures of all this mayhem in the rain, everyone starts yelling at those of us remaining to just get in already! Us old folks (just like in the movie) look at each other, shrug shoulders and join the revelers. Oh, what the heck. That looks like fun!
Dancing and singing and splashing and just generally being merry, we were certain the staff would kick us out soon. But then the bartender took off his shoes, waded right into the pool and delivered us a huge tray of drinks! He continued to do so for the rest of the evening – what a guy – delivering shot after shot after shot. The daddy-daughter and mother-son ritual dances were performed poolside, albeit soaked to the bone, with all of us cheering from the pool.
We danced the night away in the bathwater, in our wedding outfits, until they kicked us out at 11pm. I would not be surprised if this impromptu, pool-party-reception ended up as a promo video on the Sapphire NOW website (either that or the waiter was taking a close-up video of our very-nice-but-scantily-clad wedding crasher, who knows.) One staff member said he’d worked there 10 years and never saw anything like it. (the reception, not the crasher)
It truly was a night to remember… the beginnings of A Wonderful Life
See? I couldn’t have given such a fantastic rundown of a day that I wish to keep the mood of forever in my heart.
What was this magic potion? I asked my hairdresser. We were talking about what makes a beautiful wedding. There are weddings and there are weddings we agreed. Some are stuffy, long and formal – grand performances. Most are beautiful, but what makes the difference in an aesthetic, feeling sense? What makes it an affair to remember?
We both concluded that, in large part, it was that everyone was having fun. A gazillion things went wrong, she said, recalling her own wedding, but it all came together in an atmosphere of fun and joy. It wasn’t an expensive wedding; and it was anything but stuffy. People were engaged and enjoying the entire event, as participants and not just observers. It’s a joy for her to return to that memory, smiling in her heart at the merriment.
Joy, I’m convinced, makes the difference. Merriment. Having fun. Joy is the answer to my feeling of a shift within myself after the trip. Joy is what I’d tell the curious questioners.
I’ve been on transformational trips and retreats before. I’ve been transformed by beautiful art and music, theatre, movies. This seems different, in that I was totally engaged in this aesthetic experience. Maybe you could call it an immersion… and not just the pool party.
The entire week was an immersion in beauty and the elements: Sand, ocean, jungle, sky. I was no long the observer, I was the participant, along with family and friends who were enjoying the same experience. Together we were within the ceremony and celebration, not just watching it go by – no fuss – for several days together.
I have to admit that I cried when the strains of Somewhere over the Rainbow filled the air at the poolside reception dinner. Dorothy in Oz. Then, I couldn’t have imagined – well, maybe in the furthest reaches of my intuitive mind – that it really would rain and there really would be an immersion into the waters of It’s a Wonderful Life.
Yes the wedding party dancing in the pool – totally spontaneous, unplanned – turned out to be the ultimate joy that we’ll all remember. The image of total immersion into the experience can be conjured up, to rejuvenate my heart, whenever needed.
Perhaps it is both the immersion into and the sharing of aesthetic experience that transforms us and renews us. I’m in gratitude for the memory of being in a beautiful place…like the seashore… unplugged for a week from smart phone and computer … in a place of endless change, yet daily renewal and appreciation for life.
Each day during our enchanted wedding week, I felt the joy that Kahlil Gibran describes: To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.
I bring the memory home. At this crossroads, the scenes are changing again. It’s a new movie in this wonderful life, with new waters flowing all around.