When asked about the long term goals for their kids, many adults will think of coming-of-age benchmarks: Applauding as they receive a college diploma from a dream school, celebrating as they land a dream job, and walking them down the aisle to marry a dream life partner.
These are all extensions of a more fundamental wish: To see one’s kids live happy, fulfilling, healthy lives. We dream about graduations, professional development, and weddings because the stories we tell as a culture use these events as benchmarks for happiness and fulfillment.
Since the fall, my fiancée and I have been scheduled to get married on June 3, 2020 in our home city of Tel Aviv. Big hall, lots of guests. Dozens of my American friends and family members flying in, hundreds more Israelis ready to dance the night away. The whole nine yards.
Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our plans into chaos. Even as Israel begins to open its economy amidst a trickling of infections, our wedding date lies in the eye of a storm. The US expects an increase in fatalities by the end of this month, the future of air travel is unknown, and the discomfort of uncertainty hovers over everyone.
Without a double take, Reut and I decided to keep our wedding date.
After enduring two months of cabin fever together, we are an even tougher couple than we were before. Sure, we will be compromising. We had envisioned 350 guests instead of 30. But at the end of the day, our goal isn’t this wedding or that wedding, but rather a marriage and life together.
COVID-19 has forced Reut and me to reimagine the best day of our lives. In this difficult time, as we struggle to meet our own benchmarks, whatever they may be, we should think about whether they serve what is truly important in life.
For many, climbing the professional ladder has taken a backseat to what work has meant and continues to mean for most people: making a living to provide necessities and wellbeing.
During Zoom commencement ceremonies in upcoming weeks, graduates should know that the experiences, knowledge and friendships built over four years on campus are infinitely more important than hearing “Pomp and Circumstance” in a cumbersome gown.
A silver lining to an otherwise catastrophic first half of 2020 is the opportunity to gain perspective. In reality, meeting certain benchmarks does not ensure future happiness, because happiness entails endlessly safeguarding the things and people that make us happy. Even if one has enough in life, it’s part of the human condition to worry about keeping it.
So when life gives you something to celebrate, celebrate while you can. If a glass breaks under the chuppah, and fewer people are around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Yes it does — and it may be even louder.
The toughest absence will be my parents and two sisters, who are stuck in New York, where they live. But they assured me that they’ll pop some champagne at home while watching via livestream. My dad even borrowed a line from Hillel the Elder: “Just be happy and healthy. The rest is commentary.”
Josh Warhit is the Founder and Principal at Warhit Media Services. He lives in Tel Aviv. You can find him on Twitter at @JWarhit