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    Monday
    Aug182014

    How to Write an Officiating Speech

    You gotta put your goddamn heart and soul into it. 

    Last month, I was honored to have officiated the wedding of one of my best friends, Bojan Kovac, and his wonderful wife Kimberly.  The wedding took place on a island in the Danube River in Serbia, and this is what I said: 

     

          We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two exceptional human beings: Bojan Kovac and Kimberly Joseph. 

           Bojan and Kim are two of the finest people our species has ever produced, and their bond is a rare and beautiful thing.  This wedding marks the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, and is taking place as a result of countless forces and variables having manifested in such a way so as to allow for their existence and union.  So many factors were involved in bringing them together; so many things had to go precisely right in order for Bojan and Kim to find one another.  And once their paths crossed and they discovered in each other a soul mate, a void in their lives was filled.  The love which filled the void has brought them from the hectic streets of New York City to the wonderful and resilient town of Novi Sad.  Though the future is uncertain, there is no doubt that Bojan and Kim will move forward together on the same path for the rest of their lives, and we – your friends and family – are blessed to be a part of your lives, for you have brought so much happiness, beauty, and wisdom into ours.

           When Bojan and Kim first met in New York City three and a half years ago, they were both doing something they love: dancing.  And since that winter in 2010, they have danced hundreds of dances and attended numerous music festivals and concerts. Together they’ve explored rivers and mountains and islands. Their travels to Puerto Rico, England, Holland, Greece, and other destinations comprise a fraction of the places they’ll visit.  For many years to come they’ll do wonderful things, and probably some very naughty things, too.  Their future is truly promising, and they will continue to move forward with adventurous spirits and a passion to live life to its fullest.  With Bojan’s pragmatism and drive combined with Kim’s creativity and perseverance, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.  They should look forward to many more trips abroad and music festivals, jam sessions and artscape events, dances and songs and salashs.  Kim can look forward to many more of Bojan’s meatloaf dinners.  Bojan can look forward to Kim bringing home another pet.  And we can all look forward to the day Beli, Sanja, Harold, and Belinda become grandparents.    

           Inevitably, there will be times of loss and sorrow, but just as you have overcome numerous obstacles to arrive here today, you shall ultimately prevail over future challenges by virtue of continuing to value those things which are truly important in life: your family and friends, meaningful and hard work, learning, exploring, being kind and true to yourself and others; choosing good over evil, love over hate, life over death.  You will have each other for a long time to come, and you will have each other’s love forever.  This wedding is a physical expression of the commitment and eternal love you feel and vow toward one another, and with that said, you shall now exchange vows:

          Do you, Kimberly Joseph take Bojan Kovac to be your lawful wedded husband?  Do you swear to cherish him in time of sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse; trance, dance, drum and bass, reggae or house music; electric or acoustic guitar?  

         Do you promise to love and support him in times of good and bad haircuts, a rakija surplus or shortage, and if instead of meatloaf to eat all there is is moldy bread? Yum yum yum yum.

           Do you, Bojan Kovac, take Kimberly Joseph to be your lawful wedded wife?  Do you swear to cherish her in times of sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse; no matter how many faces she paints, friends she makes, or animals she tries to rescue?

           Do you promise to continue to support her in all her artistic endeavors, to protect her in times of war and peace, from falling into rivers and being bitten by horses, throughout blizzards and droughts, sadness and ecstasy, and at all bars and music festivals?

           You may now exchange rings.  Kim, please repeat after me and then give Bojan his ring.  

          Bojan, you are my soulmate and true love.  I pledge myself to you for the rest of my life, and I pledge my love to you forever.

           Now Bojan, please repeat after me and then give Kim her ring.

           Kim, you are my soulmate and true love.  I pledge myself to you for the rest of my life, and I pledge my love to you forever. 

         Before your dearest family and closest friends, with the incredible power of the Danube flowing behind me, and as one of your best friends who has the deepest respect, appreciation, and love for both of you – I now pronounce you man and wife! You may now kiss the bride!

     


    Bojan and Kim, dancing their lives away.

    Wednesday
    Oct092013

    Alan Watts - The Practice of Meditation 

    Here's a guide on Meditation from the book Play to Live by Alan Watts.  Right-click to view full an image in full:

     

    Sunday
    Aug252013

    Officiant Extraordinaire

    Last year, Khol Tightuss and Roxanne Cochard bestowed an amazing honor upon me by asking me to officate their American wedding.  I did, and here's a transcript what was said on Tuesday:

    Thank you to everyone for gathering here today on this momentous occasion.  We’re here to celebrate the union of two extraordinary human beings: Roxanne Astird Cochard and Cole Anthony Titus.

    Our presence in this beautiful valley is the result of these two souls crossing paths three years ago, at which point their formerly separate paths converged and merged into one large, superpath. 

    From the moment they meet on the porch of Cole’s childhood home, beneath towering redwoods and a blue summer sky, Cole and Roxanne clicked. I remember the first day they meet: they talked late into the night, laughing and giggling like little school girls.  I know this because at the time I was living in the sunroom adjacent to the porch, and I was secretly listening to everything they were saying. 

    The spark of love that ignited that day soon expanded into an raging inferno that could not be extinguished by the all water in the Atlantic Ocean, nor suppressed by the six-thousand mile – or if you prefer, 9,600 kilometer – airplane journey that they’ve repeatedly made between Paris and Sebastopol over the course of their long-distance relationship.

    Throughout this period of time, Cole and Roxanne have experienced their share of marvelous adventures which have served to solidify their friendship, trust, and love.  The seeds of their relationship were sown in the fertile soil of West Sonoma County, and the experiences that they have shared together have branched-out across the globe. 

    It didn’t take long for them to realize the joy that came about from being with one another.  Their enthusiasm for traveling together was realized in Northern California: through day trips to bask along the Russian River and Secret Beaches.  They now stand before us today having stepped foot together in four continents.  From snowboarding in Lake Tahoe to the French Alps, from driving to Baja California to hiking across sand dunes in the Sahara Desert – their combined spirit of exploration has proven to be a strong and exceptional force in their relationship.  They’ve crawled through catacombs filled with skulls and bones beneath the world’s most romantic city; they’ve experience a magical trip in Normandy, and they even were in Vietnam together.

    Additionally, Cole and Roxanne have found common ground in the deep appreciation they share for high culture and the performing arts, as demonstrated by attending the Book of Mormon musical in London, as well as seeing world-class bands perform live, such as Iron Maiden in Prague and Bruce Springsteen in Paris. 

    More important than their shared interest in exciting activities is the joint commitment they’ve invested in their relationship; they’ve sacrificed and they’ve taken risks, and they have prevailed. They are living, breathing testaments to power of love.  Roxanne has stood by Cole’s side as he arm-wrestled a midget in Bruges for some reason; courageously, she’s withstood a relentless bout of his horrific flatulence in Morocco, and she’s stayed with him even after she accidentally sipped from a wine bottle containing his tobacco-chew spit.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this is true love. And the marriage of Cole and Roxanne is the best deal America has arranged with the French since the Louisiana Purchase.

    Their future is bright.  It’s filled with countless sunrises and sunsets, full moons and meteor showers, road trips and voyages.  The Maldives is but one of many exotic destinations that they’ll visit as husband and wife to make us jealous of them.  Inevitably, there will also be times of uncertainty and sorrow, but just as they each have helped others overcome adversity, they will find strength in their mutual love and they too shall overcome. 

    And like their parents, if and when the time comes, they will produce wonderful and ingenious offspring that will add value to the world as they have.  They’ve already proven that there is nothing that can stand in their way if they put their hearts and mind into it, for, as the say in France: voulior c’est pouvior – to want is to be able.  Cole and Roxanne will go down in history alongside some the greatest duos to have ever existed, such as Calvin and Hobbes, Frodo and Sam, and Mrs. Piggy and Kermit the Frog. 

    From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for sharing your lives with us; and each person here is blessed to have you as a part of our lives.  Thank God you two have found each other.  Thanks also to your moms and dads and step-parents who have made you and raised you to be some of the finest people we have ever known.  Thanks to your brothers and sisters and friends who have all helped to shape you into the amazing people you have become.  No words can express how proud we are of you. 

    Of those friends of yours here that I know, I’d like to give a shout out to Dawson, Canyon, Stephanie, Marley, Marty, Evan, Adam, Drew, Ryan, Jordon, Migo, Renae, Victoria, Marine, and myself.  To those of you who feel inspired to get married, I am officially ordained, and would be happy to take care of you next; and to Cole’s single male friends, remember: gay marriage is now legal in the state of California.

    That being said, it’s time to bring this home. 

    Do you, Roxanne Astrid Cochard, take Cole Anthony Titus, AKA your “Yankee/Hubbie Wan Kenobie,” to be your lawful wedded husband?

    Do you promise to love and cherish him in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, drunk or sober, straight or gay? 

    Do you promise to stick together with him in the event of a drone strike, meteor strike, or if the Empire Strikes Back; all for one, one for all, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?

    Do you, Cole Anthony Titus, take Roxanne Astrid Cochard, AKA your “French French Fry,” to be your lawful wedded wife?

    Do you promise to love and cherish her in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, if you had a boat, and if you had a pony, you upon your pony on your boat? 

    Do you promise to protect her in the event of a natural disaster, cyber attack, robot uprising, alien invasion, alien-robot invasion, Nazi-zombie apocalypse, or if the Republicans win the national elections in 2016?

    Okay, now that that’s agreed upon, you may exchange rings -- and make it good, because this is going to be last time you’re ever going to get married. 

    I, Cole/Roxanne, give you, Roxanne/Cole, this ring as a symbol of my eternal love and commitment to you.

    In concluding this ceremony, I’m going to read an excerpt from a poem, as well as a quote.  The excerpt is from a poem called “The Old Astronomer,” by Sarah Williams:

    Though my soul may set in darkness
    It will rise in perfect light
    We have loved the stars too fondly
    To be fearful of the night

    And what follows is a quote by Carl Sagan:

     “You’re an interesting species.  An interesting mix.  You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not.  See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
    “For small creatures, such as we, the vastness is bearable on through love.” 

    Now, by the power vested in me, which feels like a hell of a lot right now, I now declare Primae Noctis! 

    I mean, I now pronounce you MAN AND WIFE! You may now kiss the groom – after me!

    Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you, Cole and Roxanne!

     

     

    Saturday
    Aug242013

    Keep it up...

    Thursday
    Feb212013

    Ten Tips for Young Men (some of which apply to Young Women)

    Here are ten suggestions that I believe will help young men live more gratifying, healthy, and successful lives. 

    1)     Travel – Adventure somewhere totally different.  This could be a cross-country road trip or a journey to a different country (the less affluent the better).  Traveling is an excellent way to learn about yourself and others.  After a long trip, you may come back home to find that the things (television, video games, social media, the internet, etc.) that you thought were important are not.  You will most likely return with new friends, awesome stories, and vivid experiences that will have made you stronger and smarter.  Traveling gives you the benefit of contrasting your way life to others, and often inspires people to improve themselves and the world around them.

    2)      Be Independent – This means that you should try not to rely on others when you don’t have to.  Being independent will compel you to make responsible decisions that will improve your chances of success in the future.  Those whom are handed everything in youth are less incentivized to work hard and brainstorm ways of becoming successful.  If you can, try to prepare your own meals, make your own money, and do not skirt around work responsibilities.  Being independent does not mean being solitaire – on the contrary, you will build new friendship networks through reaching out to people and working with others whom you would not have otherwise crossed paths with. 

    3)    Find a Passion – Explore options outside of your work or academic curriculum that you are highly interested in.  These should be challenging and rewarding exercises that you can pursue and enhance through time.  Do not allow yourself to become defined solely by your job or field of study; have a constructive hobby or interest that you love.  Start now and you will excel in the long-term.  Your passion is a parallel form education – that which is self-taught and can potentially be more valuable than your formal education or official job.  If you can figure out a way to make a living from your passion then hats off to you, for it’s true: Find a job doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.  Also, girls dig guys with passion.  It’s similar to how women are less attracted to a single guy than to a guy who has a girlfriend – it’s because they assume the taken guy (the guy with a passion) is doing something with his life and has something to offer.    

    4)      Limit your Screen and Interface Time – Allot periods of your day where you shut down your computer, video game console, and mobile devices.  You should spend this time engaged a constructive project or reading a book.  If you have to watch T.V, then watch a documentary.  Do not compulsively look at your phone; this makes you look crazy, distracted, and desperate – like an addict.  Don’t wake up and go immediately to your phone or computer, instead, try to lie in bed and remember your dreams.  You should be able to sit calmly in a quiet place and stay focused on one thing (reading, writing, drawing, etc) for at least an hour.  When you are online, ask yourself: Am I wasting my time? Is this activity helping me advance towards my goals?  If you are trolling the web and feel brain-dead, lethargic, lost, or uninspired, then turn off the machine and step away. Sit down and make a list of things you would like to accomplish in the immediate and long-term future, and then map-out how you intend to get there.    

    5)      Eat Healthy and Exercise – Be health conscious.  Try to eat organic food and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.  If you can, try not to consume any GMO, factory-farmed, processed meat, and stay away from pesticide-sprayed and fast food.  Don’t drink soda or consume anything with high fructose corn syrup or aspartame.  When you eat, practice good manners: chew with your mouth closed, don’t hunch your back, and don’t shake your leg convulsively – you look ridiculous if you do that.  Work out for at least fifteen minutes everyday.  Get some sun and enjoy nature.  Like all organic matter, you need to take care of yourself to grow and prosper. Make sure to floss your teeth and stretch.  Don’t sleep-in until noon (unless you have good reason for having stayed up late).  Don’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol too much either.  If you’re going to do drugs, make sure you do them in moderation and that you know what you’re getting into. 

    6)      Stand Up for Yourself and Others – Speak your mind and don’t take shit from anyone.  If you see injustice, do something about it.  Speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.  There’s a good quote that goes like, “Say what you want and be who you are, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  Across the planet myriad people are living in conditions of immense hardship; you should often keep these people in your thoughts.  Once you are in a position to help them, do so.  Be a man of your word and don’t be a pussy, but don’t be an asshole either.  It’s okay to pass judgment on people after you get to know them, but never prejudge strangers or discriminate against them. 

    7)      Question the Status Quo – Always question the fundamentals and the information being presented to you.  Things are usually more convoluted that they seem. Question the media, government, and corporations.  Try to maintain a global and historical context to compare whatever issue is being discussed.  If you are unsure about the details of a certain topic, recognize this (instead of arguing in ignorance), and then look into it so that you may formulate an opinion. Make sure you do not go along with anything that does not agree with your conscience or personal values.  When a wrong is being committed against another human being (or against a pocket of nature that you care for), you should always stand against that wrong – regardless of the rationalization under which that wrong is being perpetuated.

    8)      Live Not in Regret – Don’t expect that you’ll have more than one chance to do anything in life.  Whether it’s talking to a girl, going SCUBA diving, or making a speech at an event – seize the opportunity as long as doing so is not going to hurt anyone.  You don’t want to be lying in your bed at night, reviewing your day and thinking, “Man, I really should have talked to that girl...”  And you definitely don’t want to be on your deathbed thinking, “Gee, I really should have written that novel, or taken that trip to Bhutan, or learned about marine biology...”  This same principle of regret applies to how your treat those closest to you.  Don’t separate from your loved-ones on hateful terms – you never know if that will be the last time you see them. 

    9)      Curb your Materialism – Be conscious of where your commercial goods came from and where they will go once discarded.  Think about the chain of events that occurred in order to get any item or resource in your possession to you.  Try not to buy so much new shit, reuse things whenever possible, and don’t take more than you need.  Be self-sufficient and purchase local goods when you can.  Give back by cleaning up your surrounding environment, and always consider the impact your decisions have on others and the world around you. Don’t get caught up in status symbols and the misconceived value of material goods, as they’re largely irrelevant when it comes to improving your body, mind, and spirit. 

    10)  Be Grateful - Chances are, if you’re reading this then you’re living at the pinnacle of human material well-being in history.  You are privileged to be alive in a relatively stable environment and you have a wonderful opportunity to live life to the fullest, so make the best of it and don’t waste your time.  Thank your lucky stars that you are who are you are, and express gratitude to those people and things that have helped get you this far and are keeping you going.