Weeks before the wedding, I realized I had only a vague notion as to which quotes about life, love and the pursuit of happiness should shower our guests’ tables. It had seemed so important for so long, but had been pushed to the back burner to make room for more important logistical stuff — like, you know, seating arrangements and hair appointments.
Tacky quotes about gushiness of love and marriage as an institution were easy enough to find, but they didn’t jive with my off-the-beaten-path sensibilities. I turned to my father’s quote book and my future husband’s brain for inspiration. Dad gave me some amazing pearls of wisdom. The Mister gave me Vonnegut. But as non-traditional as I wanted to be, Vonnegut’s incredible prose just didn’t seem to meld with the sweet and personable “feel” we were looking to convey.
A few good Vonnegut quotes finally did make it into the mix. But finding “warm and fuzzy Vonnegut” wasn’t easy. Instead, the features Vonnegut quotes offered a necessary sensibility to an otherwise dreamy occasion:
- I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” – Kurt Vonnegut
- Love is where you find it. – Kurt Vonnegut
- We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down. – Kurt Vonnegut
- Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. – Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut is easy to lose sight of but once fully realized, his vision of the world is all-encompassing. It’s much bigger than the pages on which his wisdom resides — it clings to your soul and reminds you how malleable and inconstant the world can be, even with the most concrete of things: time.Vonnegut’s take on the world is such that we’re forced to face the walls of reality we’ve constructed around ourselves. And somehow, if we make it through that uncomfortable process of adjusting our take on the world, we’re better for it. Take a breath and you’ll see the world start to slow down.
Vonnegut reminds us that we are not bigger than life. We can’t have it all, and we’re ridiculous to assume we ever could. In the end, we’re minuscule. We don’t matter. We’re all of us at the mercy of the universe. It’s an impossible notion that destroyed Gatsby. But somehow, Vonnegut’s take on the world feels much more liberating to me than thinking I’m supposed to be everything to everyone.
Vonnegut’s philosophy is one that the Mister and I fully subscribe to, and we look forward to making our way through Timequake with anyone who cares to join us. It’s a fitting book for the month of May, and as we approach our first anniversary. Because in the end, it’s not about the glitzy glam parties at all. It’s about reconciling the difference between what you want to get out of the world with what the world has in store for you. Vonnegut’s body of work is contemplative, and personal, and important. And I’m ready for it.