Why I’m Not Recording My Marriage Proposal

I love our culture of display. I love that we can share our deepest most personal moments in a one-click treasure trove.

Seriously. I’m not a cranky old dude who hates the new wave of technology.

But: I don’t want to record my own marriage proposal.

I am not against this at all. But as for me: I just want to keep it in here, between me and my wonderful lady, and not for the world to see.

There is something about recording an event that feels alarmingly self-conscious. It’s sort of a heightened hyper-reality, like I’m thinking ahead to how it’ll be seen, like I am not really there but stuck in a superimposed future.

There is something about squeezing a memory into YouTube that feels driven by a performer’s paranoia, like I must get every moment just right to get the maximum views, the most tears, the most thumbs up.

I don’t mean to sound old-fashioned. Really.

But I’m one of those guys who loves the power of story. The simplicity of re-telling, with my hands and my eyes and my voice, in a chair right in front of you, looking far off to remember every pulsing moment. The quiver in my lips. The smile I can hardly contain. That final breath after the final word.

It is the sharing of our human experience by human means that allows the seed of imagination to bloom. Of course videos can do that. But videos cannot exercise the paintbrush of our spirit. It does the painting for us. Sometimes that is good, but it demands nothing. It is not involved. A video can occasionally be like walking through a museum. A story invites you in to participate. To ride on a journey in that invisible space between your head and your heart.

When my future wife or I pass away, and if God allows us the grace to be with each other on our last days, then we won’t have a video of the day I proposed. Maybe it will be a loss. But we will have our laughter. We will have our tears. We will have an ocean of memory running deep in our veins, a rushing river of intimacy that no one can invade. We can remember together. It will be our private moment. It will be the last thought on my deathbed, and so as I go, it will go as well.

The world can’t have that one.

It belongs to me, to her, and to God.

— J