I take thee to be my lawful wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part.
This adaptation of traditional marriage vows from The Book of Common Prayer works for an authentic profession as well as a marriage to a spouse. Though there was no ceremony and no witnesses, this is the unspoken vow I took all those years back when I committed myself to a lifelong partnership with the Orff approach. And each of the clauses makes sense.
For better or for worse: From yesterday’s inspired class with some great jazz hitting the groove and a few inspired solos or the hilarious and imaginative paper plate class with the young ones to the time (my first year teaching) when the preschoolers ran out of my room and down the hall with me chasing them or the kid who burst into tears and shouted, “I hate music!” or my colleague and I were left alone in the rain after a two-hours show with four instruments and a bicycle at midnight, I’ve weathered all the storms, ridden out the inevitable peaks and valleys of life with unpredictable children.
For richer or for poorer: From my consultant fee to my monthly paycheck, the money has never once wholly mattered or interfered with the quality of the work.
In sickness and in health: This the one that got me thinking, as I spend two nights straight with some 15 trips to the toilet with some Asian version of Montezuma’s Revenge and still made it through the days of teaching. As with my hacking-cough no-voice Jazz workshops last June in Brazil and Colombia. Once you take the vow, you teach in any condition you can by any means necessary. The show indeed must go on.
To love, cherish and obey. I think I’ve done well with this, loving this work even more with each passing year, cherishing each opportunity to do it and obeying its insistent and difficult demands. And as far as I can see, I’m in it till the end, till death do us part.”
Now for some Emodium.
PS In looking up that Marriage Vow, I noticed in the old days that the Bride and Groom had identical vows except for one clause. The bride had “to obey,” the groom did not. Feminist outrage aside, the maker of the vow must have never married or he would have soon discovered the secret “Yes, dear” clause.