Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin
cswallow

Privileges

 In the crinkled, half-even light of video sent across the pool of the ocean, I watched at 3 am as an incomparable woman, Misuzu Miyashita, married the love of her life, Alvin Schexnider. They wed in Alice Millar Chapel, on Northwestern's campus in Evanston. From my vantage point - a little laptop stuck on a pew - I saw the sun, which in summertime riots damply with heat and greenery, glow in the white cross of the stained glass. The kaleidoscope of spring colors surrounded it, just as it surrounded Misuzu and Alvin. Misuzu was aglow, too, her veil like a long slash of sunlight, and Alvin completing her.

The wedding itself was all sound and light. Deep bass, sweet altos, and then a whole chorus of voices lifted in praise. Zu danced through it all; I could not see her expression, but everything she said swept through the gesture of her body toward Alvin, the grace of her arms as they held hands before the altar. 



And then, JD (and Skype!) keeping me linked up, setting up the laptop for the ceremony, and then again for the reception. Will and Kevin speaking to me before dinner, elated and familiar. Malena's African dancing her finest, golden and ravishing, "flirtation, seduction and desire!" Malena has always been of the air. Her drummers never showed up, but she carries her own beat anyway, and flung us skyward in her joyful defiances of gravity.

But Misuzu, it was your wisdom that delivered us. I am going to paraphrase very poorly, but your speech was one that everyone who has ever loved or sought love ought to hear. I stumble on these words, and hope you will forgive me for it:

Love, you began, is the greatest privilege of all. For most of us privilege means having a big house, buying nice things, owning status. But many of your students lack privileges, and the truth is, without feeling love and being able to show love to others, the shine of those other things tarnishes.  You spoke of the past days, of how much love has filled your heart, leading you to smile at everyone on the street you didn't know. 
When we are full of love, it gives us confidence. We no longer care about our own needs, but the needs of others. You spoke of how those assembled had shown their love by being there for you, on that day. But the truth is that even when those gathered are not there, not tangibly showing their love, the love doesn't disappear.  Instead, why not be confident of that love every day.
You said you wanted to bottle up this moment, and take a sip every time you and Alvin might be feeling selfish or sour. Sometimes we have a hard time taking our eyes off of ourselves. If, you said, we were reminded of how much love we have in our own lives, we would serve a little more, give a little more, smile a little more, and focus more on what is important in life.
 
At the wedding, both 1 Corinthians 13 and Kahlil Gibran's On Friendship were read. Although I was raised under the Catholic tradition, I never understood where religion fit into my life. Today, Zu's and Alvin's embodiment of the words of love in the Bible made me, for the first time, begin to grasp how life can be made more clear when seen through the lens of Christianity.

I've been reading the first chapter of  John Hamm's book called, "Unusually Excellent," - a PDF file that came in one of Joe LeBeouf's weekly "leadership enrichment" emails. While the bulk of the chapter sets out defining the meaning of authenticity, and how to demonstrate authenticity, what caught my eye was this line: "Most of us compromise our authenticity in small and not-so-small ways...and each time we do so is a paper-cut to our self-respect...We opt for taking care of others' feelings now and sacrifice the truth we know we much deal with later."

One of the other interns here, Joshua, never holds back from speaking his mind. While this has not always had positive results, I've come to see benefits in how he pushes for results rather than for feel-good emotions. I asked him to give me feedback on my two months in Hunchun - what could I work at, and what had I done well? While he said he wished he could shift toward my "middle of the road" negotiating style, he also thought that I had to communicate of my vision and needs better and earlier.

There's a thought piece in the New York Times today, dramatically named "Married, with Infidelities." There are a number of controversial statements in this article, but Oppenheimer also writes of the philosophy that two people ought to place a higher value on the relationship than on one component of it. In this particular context, Savage is referring solely to sexual exclusivity, but I think there is another reading, which is that the best relationships allow us to be fully ourselves. We open ourselves to each other, and trust that the other person will not only understand, but accept us that way.

Hamm says something similar, that we are most authentic when we trust ourselves completely, when we know that those around us like us the way we are, and they wouldn't want us any other way. He warned me  that when something is at stake - the desire to meet expectations, or my fear of some result - it is easy to stifle who I am, in an attempt to be what I expect.

What has always awed me about The Loft is how completely each person embodies their own unique self. In the midst of our teasing, scolding, encouraging, reminiscing and laughing, we are all trying to live the glory of love that Misuzu and Alvin shared today. Would that I might bring that self love, and love of selves, to everything I do.

It's dark here in Hunchun. My neighbor has a shoot-em-up movie turned up loud, and though I took breaks to dance to Kevin's favorite wedding song (P-Squared, "No One Like You"), my vision is blurry from too many hours working on my laptop. Air and moths, like happiness, drift in and out of the open window. Oh, How privileged I am!

Tags: about cs, books, business, friendship, leadership, music, northwestern, poetry, relationships
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