On Love | Mr. O'Kane

    Movies and television make relationships to be full of extremes, amazing or broken,  beautiful passion or deceitful destruction. This is why we are so fascinated with marriage. Two people making the decision that even with the possibility of potential tragedy they see on display in movies, television or even some of their friends’ lives, the possible amazing is worth the risk. For a long time, I thought this assessment was spot on, but boy was I wrong. Love doesn’t live in extremes. Love might visit, but it spends most of its time in the middle of the give and take that is necessary to sustain something truly beautiful. These are the marks of true love–mutual respect, selfless support, boundless belief. I know what you’re thinking. What do I know, right? Not much, but I have paid attention. Believe it or not, I had a third row seat.
    Years ago, I was at a wedding where the bride and groom wrote their own vows. Not only were they heartfelt and personal but they both mentioned the importance of building each other up, never tearing the other person down. They meant it. She spoke about how much she admired him and with a purposeful smile on his face, he looked right into her eyes and said that he would always be there for her. In that moment, I remember thinking, “THEY are in love.” They spoke with calm, yet excited, conviction.
    The focus on mutual respect and support is something I witness with my own mother and father. No matter what is going on, something that is not tolerated is breaking down the other person. There are stressful arguments at times, but it never devolves to personal attacks. Before it gets to that point, it is almost as if they look at each other and know. Arguing is one thing, but desecration is another. Devolution to disrespect is off the table. They teach me that we don’t need to worship the person we are with, but we need to cherish them, at all times.
    My father works with contractors and knows a lot about the intricacies of how things are built. Once he told me about a building in NYC–432 Park Ave–that is extremely tall (425.5m), but has a base the size of a postage stamp. The building has a 19:1 ratio of height to width. There even needs to be built in floors that are open in order to let air flow. 
    If architects did not include these open floors, then the building would not be able to stay standing if with strong winds. They also have a humongous suspended weight at the top of the building. In order to maintain balance, they move as the building sways. In order to create something so inspiring, a great deal of effort needed to go into creating an intricate design that would stay standing in a storm, just like my parents’ marriage.
    In the grand scheme of things, they occupy a postage stamp. Neither has interest in notoriety, nor do they feel the need to take more than they need. In raising my sister and me, they give their time, effort, emotion, resources and most importantly, they share their foundation. Their values influence the way they live their lives each day. When my mother was a teacher, she emphasized the importance of empathy and respect. Whether the students were four or fourteen, she made sure they knew how important they were to her and that if they focused on the golden rule, their life journey would be filled with meaning.  She brings that same attitude home and always makes sure my father feels loved. He does the same, thoughtful gestures, kind words, and relentless support are hallmarks of his love. Together, they spend time on making sure there are those built in spaces that allow the both of them to be their own person. They sway, and at times, it takes the great weight (their faith) to keep them balanced, but because they have dedicated their lives to building one another up, it is going to take a lot more than some wind to bring them down.