Mindfulness, Relationships, Religion

The trouble with sorry

The hardest thing for me to tolerate on Yom Kippur is not absence of food;

It’s the absence of tomorrow.

On Yom Kippur, we are present.

We are asked to let go of yesterday’s mistakes,

to forgive others, and ourselves.

We are solemn in our awareness of the gift of a clean slate.

Of a clean tomorrow.

But this is difficult for me. My busy mind.

Everyone else’s mind is busy with thoughts of food

of kippered salmon, of potato pancakes.

My mind is busy in judgment.

“Is she really sorry?”

“Is he really going to change his ways?”

“Am I?”

With so much sorry in my face, I feel compulsive in my doubt.

And incapable, more than any other day during the year, of casting away judgment.

And present only to my dilemma;

To sinning once again.

 

 

Uncategorized

Today is 9/11/13

On this day, when many of us remember a September 11th that felt out-of-order
(to say the least), we may find some comfort in… order.

9   11  13

is a sequence of consecutive odd numbers.

You may remember this from first grade, or from watching Cyberchase with your preschooler.

Or, it may have come to you quite accidentally while you were eating a chunk light tuna and cucumber unsandwich (aka tuna and cucumber on a plate.)

There you are, crunching away, and you think to yourself:

I wish I had time today to read or write a personal essay about the events of 9/11/01.

Then, out of nowhere, from where thoughts often arise, you see numbers scroll in your head.

9/11/13

Ahhh…that’s a nice pattern, you think. I wonder if there’s some gematria value or significance.

You add the numbers together in your head, 9 + 11 + 13 = 33.

Ah, you sigh again, 33. A double digit with repeating numbers. Nice.

You are also somewhat relieved that the numbers didn’t add up to 66.

You chuckle to yourself because you are superstitious.

And because you are suddenly present in that moment to how robot-like we human beings can be.

How quick we are to search for order as a way to make sense of madness.

But then, what else is there to do on 9/11, but search for ways to make sense out of madness?

Middle East Conflict, Mindfulness, Modern Life, War

All Signs Point to Yes

What does the future hold for you?

The Daily Prompt wants an answer in six words only. I love a good Ernest Hemingway inspired challenge so here goes it with a few predictions, some dark, some light.

I’ll keep making mistakes, catching breaks.

or

Say hello to Sarin from Syria

or

I will learn, finally, to breathe.

Writing

How to recognize a poet

If you write poetry and no one reads it, is it still a poem? What if no one likes it?

Gets it?

Shares it?

What if it’s never published?

Never praised?

Is it still a poem?

How — really — does one recognize a poet?

Is the title earned? Learned?

I admit —

I am a reluctant poet.

Reluctant, not because I don’t enjoy weaving short thoughtful phrases together and calling it poetry, and not because I don’t enjoy reading short thoughtful phrases woven together by others

but mostly because I am not 100% sure how to recognize a poem.

And I am not 100% sure I am a poet.

Poetry confuses me. It makes me insecure.

I doubt it. I judge it. In a way I don’t judge novels or articles or essays.

When I read poetry, I am often left confused.

When I write poetry, I am overly critical. Hungry for approval and acknowledgment.

Is it the writer in me, I wonder, that is anxious and unsure?

Or is it the human?

There was a time when I thought I knew poetry. When I thought that poetry was as simple as alliteration

alliteration

as simple as limericks … as quatrains … as rhyme.

I was in third grade and poetry was the unit during Language Arts.

We created a poetry book — I still have it. It’s bound in wallpaper and decorated with a rainbow colored pride known only by nine year old girls and confident gay activists.

poetry book

And I am moved by the poet I was then.

I am struck by how I saw the world when I was a poet, and I am envious of the girl who strung together lavish gibberish and confidently presented it as verse.

Oh, how the words flowed then…

/

walking down the stairs

holding tight to the staircase

taking your first step

Your parents at the bottom

finally your (sic) down the stairs.

/

In 1983, under the instruction and guidance of Mrs. Wald, I wrote a 12-page, wallpaper-bound book of poetry.

The pieces vary in length and in depth.

They cover topics that range from my childhood home to the mountains of Japan.

They make perfect sense and no sense at all.

Some rhyme, some reference people I no longer remember.

30 years later, I read this book of poetry and I am moved.

Does that make me a poet?

Is that enough?

I say it is.

It’s enough.

Not enough for contests or Ph.D.s or prizes, that’s for certain.

But enough to offer me the confidence

to write another poem

tomorrow.

Mindfulness, Modern Life

Traumatized by a long dead bug

Every time something beyond my sight touches my skin  — whether it is a strand of hair, a computer wire, or a strong gust of wind — I assume a bug is crawling on me.

I shutter. I swat. I slap.

Often times, a bug is indeed crawling on me. After all, I live in Israel, a country that is still in many ways upper third world — at best, lower first world.

But many times, there is no bug.

And yet, I jump.

This is both a true story and a metaphor for the biggest roadblock in my life — the unnecessary fears that overwhelm me.

Apparently, I am not alone.

Studies now show that not only are we still hard-wired like cavemen — reacting with adrenaline to potential (but, in reality non-existent) predators — but we also perceive as threats and react to situations that are not actually happening to us, but to our friends or friends of friends.

We are exhausting ourselves, apparently, in our efforts to eliminate a long dead bug or kill an imaginary tiger. Worse yet, we are sinking into depressions fretting over a stranger’s illness or worrying about a tragedy in a community we’ve never visited populated by people we don’t know in real life.

How do we balance our compassion; our desire to fix ourselves and our world; with our very real need to

REMAIN CALM?

How do we recognize and respond to danger without perceiving every minor concern as a potential life threat?

And how do we move from day to day in a world that seems to continually spiral out of control without feeling as if everything is about to collapse?

(Particularly when all news sources suggest that it is?)

I do not know the answers.

Yet, I continue to seek them, and from time to time laugh as I gently urge my rapidly beating heart to recognize the shadow on the wall for what it is.

A memory passed on from generation to generation.

A defect in an ever-evolving brain.

A reason to …yet again …breathe.