Thursday, September 2, 1999

Leave the Canoe on the Other Side (Mike's bestman speech)

(On the Occasion of Michael and Karri's Wedding)

Ladies and gentelman, honoured guests, thank you.

Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to recognize some of the people who have made this wonderful event possible. First, I would like to thank all the friends and family who have come in from out of town to share with Michael and Karri on this happy day. I would especially like to recognize our two grandes dammes, could both grandmothers stand up. Thank you Rabbi for your words of wisdom and the beautiful ceremony. Let us all be grateful to the maids of honor and bridegrooms who have supported Karri as she learned to put up with Michael. And finally the parents of the bride and groom, could you stand up? We really owe it all to you as you were the ones who conceived this event. Finally, I would like to be the first to raise a glass and toast the bride and groom. To counselor and counselor Michael and Karri Lapin.

Now, let's get down to business. I've known Michael for about as long as I can remember. Really, I can honestly say that he’s been almost like a brother to me.

Those of you who know my brother and me, know that we have never agreed on anything. In fact, we have never even agreed to disagree. I'd even venture to say that we have argued and disagreed and bickered on just about every subject from politics to whether some people can be hypnotized or not. When I was in England working recently I had my mail sent to Mike so that he could forward it to me. One day he called me up and told me that my absentee ballot had come in and that he had taken the liberty of voting for me. My first thought was "Oh lord what have I done. I should have never signed that power of attorney statement."

Now to his credit, Mike voted exactly as he thought I would have wanted to. As it turned out, our votes canceled each other out almost entirely. So Michael and I never agree on much. I think I am giving him a very valuable service, though, one that could be vital to his marriage even. You see, I figure if I bicker with him once a week or so, he won't feel the need to bicker with Karri. And that's a good thing, right?

I have known Karri for over a year now and have nothing but the best to report. The only thing I would change about her is if she would let me put the music on a little louder in the car when she sits in the back. No, perhaps the greatest compliment that I can pay to her is that she is about the only thing that Michael and I have ever agreed on. Karri, I think you have made Michael a happier and better person for your presence in his life and I welcome you into the family.

In a small way I feel responsible for Michael and Karri getting married today, though I take no credit for doing what any best man would do. Mike, I hope you won't be too upset if I tell everyone this. You see, last night about midnight I was woken from sleep by a phone call. When I finally roused myself to answer it was Mike on the other line and I knew that something must be up because it was three or four hours past his bedtime. He was crying and sounded pretty unsteady. He proceeded, through the tears, to tell me that he wasn't sure about the wedding and didn't know if going through with it was such a good idea. I've got to say I was pretty surprised at first because he had never indicated that he had any doubts and seemed so happy except for the stress of organizing and paying for the event. I told him confidently that it was just second thoughts and that it was normal. Everyone gets cold feet, right? He went on, however, and talked about community property and line-item deductions, and some other stuff too but it was too muffled by the sobs.

Now luckily I was prepared and read him the following…

[quotes from emails they had written about why and how they loved each other]

To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure what most of it meant, but it seemed to work. So here they are today, the lucky bride and groom and perhaps in a not so small or truthful way, all thanks to me.

If I may, in closing, give you one piece of serious advice. Mike, you remember when we were young, Mom and Dad used to move around a lot. I figure for a while there we moved houses about one every year, and one thing that taught me, besides don't keep waiting for that basketball hoop, smoked glass shower door and pool table (I had to get that in somewhere), the one thing that it taught me is: leave the canoe when you get to the other side.

It was actually a native healer who told me this story about a man, everyman, who has set out on a great journey. You see him walking with his nose just inches from the path, bent over double from the weight of his load. On his back is a rocking chair, a bicycle, a canoe a large burlap bag filled to the brim and who knows what else. He is struggling so much with his load that he is not able to enjoy the natural life and beauty through which he is walking. If you ask him why he is carrying all these things, he will tell you that when he left his home he didn’t know if there would be a comfy chair to sit on where he was going so he decided to bring his with him, he also filled a burlap bag full of clothes and books and pictures and other personal belongings that he wanted to remember. Later on, he says, he used the bike to follow a long stretch of pavement and when he got to the forest’s edge decided to carry it with him because he didn’t know if he might need it again. Still later he had come to a river and used the canoe to paddle across, and so he is carrying that too in case he has to cross another one along the way. At this point, the native healer told me that when you live in the sacred way, that is when you walk the path, the path with heart, you realize that you can leave the canoe behind you on the other side of the stream. You don’t have to carry it with you. If life brings you to another crossing, you will find another boat to cross it, or you will build one.

Just hearing this story lifted a great weight off of my shoulders as I realized that I had been carrying around the weight of every yoga class, pilates, hula-hoop, unicycle, juggling, chairman mao, meditation, soccer and every other practice that I had every started and even loved and benefited from for a time in my life with me as a weight. Maybe I should be doing more, or more often? Why did I stop doing that? No, it served it's purpose to help us across a particular time in our life, but we don't have to cling on to it. So that’s my advice to you, Michael and Karri, leave the canoe when you get to the other side. That's walking the path.

May the Road Rise Up To Meet You, and May the Wind Be Always At Your Back.