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I used to be pretty stupid. (Some might argue that I need to think about my verb tense there, but they can make that argument on their own blog.) I wasted time. I wasted money. I wasted opportunities. I let my life be shaped by whatever struck me as a decent idea at that moment, and as a result, I was moving in several directions at once — none of them forward.

But that was a long time ago. Things are a lot different now. I’m not sure I’m smarter, and I still manage to waste time and money and opportunities now and again, but overall my life has far more shape, far more direction, and far more promise than it did then.

That’s because at a particular point in the past — 5840 days ago, to be precise — I became a part of something that was bigger than I was, and from that moment on, it became impossible to think about what would serve me best without thinking about whether or not it would serve that bigger thing best. It was as though the lion’s share of my selfishness and foolishness — long my guiding principles — had been overcome by a force that was both beguiling and powerful, a force that drew me toward something better.

Actually, I had a hunch this force would overcome me, as I had already felt its pull long before I succumbed. So you could date the change to somewhere around 6700 days ago. But if I go that far back, I have to account for some fluctuations in its power, fluctuations that were largely due to me and the fact that I was … well … stupid.

I wish that I could say that I have always made the right choice over these last 5840 days, the choice that contributed to and strengthened that which sustains me, as opposed to the choice that weakened and diminished it. Sadly, that’s not quite true, though I like to think I’ve done pretty well. And I wish I could say that the path from there to here has been a happy, pleasant stroll every step of the way, though that’s not true either.

But I can say that everyone should be so lucky. 5840 days back — sixteen years ago today — I married a woman who I couldn’t bear to be without. Little did I know how rich our lives would be. Little did I know how much we would grow — together and separately. Little did I know how much this thing we created on that day, this marriage, would become not so much about us or of us, but … us.

It’s a shame to celebrate your marriage just one day a year, just as it’s a shame to take for granted how much better it has made you. Viewed in that light, it’s pretty easy to see that, at least in my case, sixteen years can’t begin to account for that improvement. Nor could fifty. Or a hundred, for that matter.

I still haven’t been able to figure out how I could have gotten so lucky. Maybe I’m still a little stupid after all.

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