In the middle of a normal day, in a conversation with a builder for a friend's new home, I stood in her new kitchen totally inspired. To me, unexpected inspiration is the best. Inspiration from people's lives is even better than a great quote. It is real life with real lessons. First you need to know, that this builder is a good man. He is extremely skilled in what he does, but in his presence I am always struck by his gentle spirit and kind heart. I enjoy listening and learning from him.
This day, the conversation turned from this house he is working on, to his daughter. She is getting married tomorrow. He told us where the wedding and reception was going to be, described some of the decorations she had chosen, and some of the things that he needed to build in order for it all to look just right. Just when I thought we were about done with the conversation and getting ready to leave, he mentioned paying for an un-wedding. I looked at my friend and she didn't seem to know what he was talking about either. So, I asked what an un-wedding was.
He explained that two years ago, his oldest daughter was engaged to be married. All the arrangements had been made and paid for. On the Monday before her Saturday wedding, she went to her parents and told them she just couldn't do it. She felt in her "gut" that she was not to marry this man. He said they were on every phone, calling over 200 guests, as well as all the people and services they had reserved for that special day. Everything had been paid for. The only area that they could recoup any of their money was for the food, since it had not actually been prepared or delivered yet. All the rest was counted as lost.
At first, family and friends wrote it off as last minute nerves or wedding 'jitters.' This young lady knew herself well enough to listen to her gut (that part of us that is usually right). Standing in that kitchen, I wanted to applaud her (and her parents). What a brave and bold decision. Most of us would have been worried about the money already spent and the people that may be disappointed. Her dad told us, however, that as time went by they heard from more and more people that admired her for her decision. They also heard many stories of people that said they "knew" before their wedding, or even during the wedding that it was not right and went through with it anyway.
As we talked about all the ramifications, I told him that if that ever happens with one of my daughters, I will keep the photographer. I will have him take pictures of her at that age to celebrate the true maturity that a decision like that reflects. I want to have pictures of that girl at that point in time. In essence, that is why I scrapbook, why I take pictures that may seem odd to others, why I write much of what I do, why I am their personal photojournalist! Even now, I can look at the doors that my older daughter is choosing to close. I want to commend her for closing the door to an unhealthy relationship and even to the college that she was originally enrolled in, opting instead to stay at a local college with a better scholarship.
To finish the story, the builder told us many family and friends arrived that weekend anyway. They too had already made and paid for travel arrangements and it was the 4th of July weekend. He said it really was like one big party and a family reunion of sorts. Since the photographer had already been paid for, he said he wishes he would have retained his services so that they would have had the photos from that weekend. Hindsight, of course, is always 20/20.
Life is full of "Plan Bs." We tend to question why the road twists and turns in ways that scare or confuse us or upset our perfect plans. We tend to think there is no turning back or that others would never understand. This story tells me that we can turn back. It tells me that we really should listen to our gut more often and that the people that truly love us will stay around and understand. As a parent, this story is invaluable. It cautions me to watch how I respond to the Plan Bs that our daughters present to us. My hope is that I can love and support them and keep the photographer!
Photojournaling With You,