I was listening to NPR as I was driving to work yesterday (I don’t know whether to apologize to my family that those letters weren’t F-O-X or make a joke about how many posts I’ll start with “I was listening to NPR…” so I’ll go with neither) and there was a man on there talking about something interesting (imagine that).
He was talking about something that I believe dominates our society and our relationships the way Heidi Montag dominates silicon production in the United States (if you don’t get that, don’t Google it). He was talking about how superficiality is drowning out substantiality.
What percent of Twitter, Facebook, Google, and, heck, the internet itself is superficial? 99%? 99.9%? You have the occasional creation of something like Kiva or Wikipedia that adds value to society but so much of it is rubbish that most of the time it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s like trying to get 4 oz. of cream to rise in a 5 million gallon bucket of milk.
But isn’t it the same in marriage?
How much of what I do in my marriage on a day-to-day basis is substantial? I would argue (I am arguing) that the emotional energy spent creating substantive conversation or activity at times seems unworthy of the time and focus I have to put into it. Perhaps that’s because I have an arrogant view of what my time is worth.
It’s easy to Tweet: “I am going to the gym because I just ate a hamburger. I am meeting friends there.” It’s even easier to Tweet: “[fill in famous quote from famous person].” The hard part? Creating your own material and conveying that material in an original manner that adds value.
What is true online is true in real life as well (can I get someone on making that a geometrical proof?).
It’s easy to buy a bundle of flowers and a vase and plop them down on the kitchen table. It’s even easier to drop two $20s on dinner at a nicer-than-Applebees restaurant. To wake up every morning with a plan of how I’m going to create content and lead conversation and block off substantive time with which I can dynamically lead my wife in our pursuit of the Lord and each other?
I love to write. I think that’s fairly obvious. I once wrote like 9,000,000 words on OSU going undefeated in football last year. Then Dez got….well you know how that story ends, that’s not why we’re here though.
One of my friends (who has a great blog – shameless plug) recently wrote about the importance of pursuing a woman, about how women were meant to be chased, and caught, and chased some more. That sentence makes him sound like he moved to Utah, bought three double-wides, and set up camp as a full-time polygamist. I didn’t mean for it to sound like that. I meant for this to be a rebuttal to my wife’s beautiful post from earlier this week.
Another one of my friends (I’ve listed roughly 8%-9% of my friends on this post) told me a story one time about his story and how he was trying to make it better. He got married on May 30, 2009 and on the 30th of every month he writes his wife a letter (I don’t know what he does in February). He writes a letter about how proud he is of her and how much he loves her and how much he wants to keep chasing her and romancing her. I admire this friend quite a bit.
In fact, I decided to emulate him. On the 5th of every month I’m going to write Jen a letter (printing out my latest post and shoving it in an envelope doesn’t count either). I’m going to write to her about how much I admire her and about how she makes me want to be something greater than I usually think I want to be. I’m sure sometimes I’ll tell her where I’m struggling and where I think our relationship could use some improvement. And most always I’ll assure her that this whole thing is real and wonderful, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
J.D. Salinger, he of “Catcher in the Rye” fame and glory, was quoted once as saying “there are still a few men who love desperately.” I’m not trying to go all DiCaprio in Titanic melodrama on you, but it’s true. The world is overflowing with things to love and it would appear that a lover of one woman’s soul is not a cultural stature to be attained in this current age.
But we are not here to get lost in culture. Writing letters is how we fell in love, it’s likely how we’ll stay. For to write to another is to read and translate one’s own thoughts and ideas into something coherent and wonderful. To write is to be alive. And if you don’t believe me, just remember the medium through which God gave us the most important story that’s ever been told.