I was in a jewelry store the other day, just browsing. An older, very handsome man was at the same counter, buying an anniversary gift for his wife of 40 years, he told the clerk.
“Whats the secret?” I asked.
“Don’t over think it,” was his quick reply.
“There’s more,” I said.
He paused and looked at me, to see if I was really interested in what he had to say. He didn’t mind sharing, but didn’t want to waste his time, either.
“You were raised in a narcissistic world,” he said at last. “It’s not your fault, but it is what it is. Everywhere they scream at you that something is missing, you need something, you deserve something, that they can give you happiness.
“They do sophisticated science to determine how your brain will flicker to their message, then they bombard you with it. They know how to make you want something before you even know it exists. They create a void so they can fill it with false promises.
“It lasted 40 years because she and I value our connection. We are more when together than when apart. We share the adventure rather than protect our space. We communicate rather than text. We take care of each other rather than blame. We try to think about what’s next and what’s best, not about what’s missing.”
I stood there a moment, after he finished. So did he. Then it was time to move. I was no longer interested in whatever bauble brought me into the store, and he was on a mission.
“Thank you,” I said.
He just gave me a smile, a small nod, maybe a small shrug to say the value of his words were not in what he said, but in what I heard.
He went back to looking for an anniversary present. I went outside into Seattle rain, thinking about what I was looking for.