“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”
– Winston Churchill
For over 30 years, I’ve referred to my wife in hundreds of articles and the book “Romancing the Buddha” as Most Beautiful One (MBO). I’m sure thousands of people, having nothing better to do while quarantined, are hoping I will shed some much neglected light on the derivation of this name. So, let’s get started.
While she has gone by Trude Jo (Talpis) Lisagor for over 50 years of marriage, I have always suspected that the actual name on her birth certificate was Most Beautiful One Jo Talpis — this being her parents’ initial verbal reaction upon welcoming her into the world. No surprise. When I first saw her at a high school dance in 1968, I had the exact same response. And, not being someone to waste time on deep deliberation, I proclaimed my undying love on our second date. A year later, she ran away with me. Which, I guess, makes me Most Lucky One.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin
Navigating a marriage can be a tricky proposition. It didn’t take long for MBO to realize I could be a heap of trouble. I think one of the earliest indications of this was probably when I got fired from my first few jobs, usually for oversleeping. Eventually she figured out how to get me up and out the door, although once my boss had to come out to the parking lot where I had fallen asleep in my car to tell me I was no longer employed there. So, I think we can safely assume that MBO was an unusually patient person.
“Happiness in life is not determined by marriage. The secret to happiness lies in building a strong inner self, a self that no trial or hardship can diminish.” – Daisaku Ikeda
Another key aspect of MBO’s name is her courage. While so many people are dealing with sudden life-threatening COVID-19 health issues, I’m reminded of the time when MBO became numb from the waist down in 1996 with what turned out to be multiple sclerosis (MS). This broke my heart. But then her bravery and determination to walk again inspired me to work on my own struggles with depression and anxiety.
Amazingly, MBO never gave up on me. I think she saw how hard I was trying to become a happier person. And thanks to five decades of chanting side by side every day, along with my EMDR therapy and medicine, I have been able to handle this time of corona-crisis with a surprisingly high degree of equanimity. This has made MBO’s life (and mine) much more enjoyable!
Of course, no two relationships will ever be the same, nor should they be. What works for some might not work for others. I have realized that, in difficult times like this, certain fundamental behaviors are critical, such as respecting MBO’s boundaries and questioning my thoughts before expressing them, especially while being trapped at home for months on end. Is what I’m about to say kind? Is it necessary? Just this simple exercise has really contributed to our ongoing harmony. This has required me to continually work on mastering my mind instead of allowing my mind to master me.
MBO’s inner beauty is also evident in her paintings. She watercolors for the joy and inner peace of it, not for the recognition. In a similar manner, no longer able to teach full time because of her MS, she has tutored numerous island students over the last 16 years. The way she gently encourages them to overcome their scholastic challenges is truly a gift.
It’s probably worth mentioning that this is the only time MBO hasn’t edited one of my articles. So, now that I’ve sufficiently embarrassed her, here is a parting quote probably already said by someone famous: “A successful relationship is having someone who respects your past, supports your present and encourages your future.”
Thanks for reading and let’s stay safe out there!
NEXT WEEK: Leo Tolstoy & the Coronavirus
Other titles by Mike during Covid-19:
ABOUT MIKE LISAGOR – Mike Lisagor plays harmonica and sings in Good Karma Blues. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and blogs on a variety of business and Buddhist related topics. He is the author of “Romancing the Buddha,” which he adapted into a successful one-man show that he performed at Bainbridge Performing Arts and in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. His nature photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe, Bainbridge Island Magazine, Living Buddhism as well as in several local galleries. His latest graphic art project, “Reimagined Nature”, is in the lobby of New Motion Physical Therapy.