Melody of my soul

Catch the spark

Chanuka: Can you still see the light?

December 25th, 2014




Dear friends,

“The festival of lights” = “חנוכה” (chanuka) is an amusing translation.

Indeed our Mitzvah over the past 8 days was to celebrate the “light”, but festivities isn’t what was in mind.

How did Chanuka turn into the following equation…

The Menorah was fueled by oil.  Oil = food cooked into oil= festive meals = presents and more presents= large scale chanuka concerts = viral acapella music videos that “Shlock Rocks” (a.k.a parody) the latest Goyish hook?

No that’s not Chanuka.  It’s cute, it’s entertaining, it’s fun, it sells, but it’s not Chanuka.

You don’t have to look far to discover the nature of Chanuka, but sometimes its very essence is overlooked.

A verse (not as popular as Maot Tzur!) recited after the Menorah lighting declares its purpose:

הנרות האלו אנו מדליקין על הישועות ועל הנסים ועל הנפלאות אשר עשית לאבותינו על ידי כהניך הקדושים וכל [מצוות] שמונת ימי החנוכה הנרות האלו קודש ואין לנו רשות להשתמש בהן אלא לראותן בלבד כדי להודות שמך על נפלאותיך ועל ניסיך ועל ישועתך.

These lights we light reflect the salvation, miracles and wonders performed in merit of our forefathers through the holy Kohanim and all the Mizvot performed these 8 days of Chanuka…These Lights are holy and we don’t have permission to use them for ANY PURPOSE except to look at them, to show gratitude for the wonders/miracles and salvation Hashem has brought us.

The purpose of lighting the Menorah is simple:  To look at them.  Not warmth, not illumination, not scent…viewing purposes only.

Why is that?

You can spend days reading the scholarly answers through the centuries, but I’d like to offer just one right now, from the holy “Arizal” Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed:

כדי שלא יתאחזו החיצונים בקדושת האור על ידי תשמיש החול הזה

(We only use the menorah light for viewing) In order for us not to simply grasp the external fire, which would make us in turn overlook the holiness of the light, by using the fire for a “Chol” (non-sacred) purpose.

For example:  If I used the menorah to read a book, or even learn Torah:  its purpose is for reading and that will diminish our ability to perceive the holy nature of the light!

And what’s wrong with using it for out external benefits?

To answer that let me share with you a story:  I once was “bageled” at an auto mechanic shop.  For those who aren’t familiar, to be “bageled” means they notice you are Jewish and they ask you about everything Jewish they know about:  from the Sabbath to Satan and everything in between.

As the manager of the store continued to “Bagel” me, at one point he stopped and shared with me a story (which explained all the “Jewish” talk).

He said to me, “One time I got into a really bad motorcycle accident.  I ran through six barbed wire fences, and in the process of the collision everything went black.  I couldn’t see a thing.  And when I came to and stood up, all my clothing was ripped off, (except for his drawers,) in the wake of the crash.”

He told me, “I looked up and I noticed asides from the apparent darkness, a beam of light…shining down on me.  I looked everywhere else and I didn’t notice any light such as this with the exception of on me.

At that moment, I realized that God decided to press the button and tell me that it wasn’t my time yet.”

I asked him if he ever made a meal of thanks in response to the crash.  He said to me, every meal.  Because a person never knows what meal will be his last, every meal is a meal of thanks for his existence, due to this beacon of light.

I asked him, so for how many years have you been thanking God.  He told me, “The crash was 40 years ago…”

You never know when that beacon of light may hit you when everything else goes black.  You never know when the message will be loud and clear, unmuffled and undistorted.  You never know when the emotions surging inside are jolted from divine inspiration.

But the Menorah reminds us…sometimes we have to black everything else in life out, all our other priorities and needs, to focus on just that light.

8 days a year we have an opportunity to do so, while the Menorah remains lit.

But that experience should not be ephemeral or short lived.

Chanuka also contains the letters הכן:  to prepare.  Our viewing of this untampered holy light is meant to prepare us for the rest of the year in order to witness this “light” the divine messages constantly hurled at us, as Hashem patiently waits for us to just look up and see it!

So now Chanuka has come and gone, let that light carry us through and truly experience Hashem’s direct messages to us, to grow from strength to strength.

Shavua Tov.  All the best to everyone, dear friends.



The Korach within us

June 24th, 2014


The story of last weeks Torah portion evokes concepts such as distinction, argument, social divide and miscommunications.  But it begs the question, where did it come from?  Why did Korach approach Moshe with so much contempt?

In hebrew קרח has multiple meanings.  Each hebrew letter is comprised of its own meaning.  ק Kuf:  Refers to the קוף:  The monkey, the one that mimics, imitates, impersonates because they aren’t comfortable with being themselves.  ר or Resh:  comprised or ראש:  to be a leader of the masses.  and ח of Chet:  referring to transgression/missing the mark and or innovation.

Put them all together and what do you have?  “The impersonator of leadership through his misguided innovation or transgression”.  This is a phoney individual, a sham.

Korach picked a fight with Moshe and asked him not only about his rights to distribute authority to his brother Aharon, but challenged him with questions laden with mockery.

The Midrash relates his sardonic inquiry.  “Why would we need a mezuzah in a house filled with holy books that especially contains the passages of the mezuzah…Why would we need the “Techeilis (blue tinted string derived from a unique sea creature connoting the infinite nature of Hashem) on a 4 cornered garment that is completely the material of Techeilis?”

These weren’t questions in pursuit of truth, these were challenges to undermine the authority of Moshe.  When one is consumed with jealousy, the deep seated desire to acquire what someone else possesses, they don’t only desire.  They allow their desire to dictate their  actions.  It draws them toward the person they loath and simultaneously wish they can become.  Then, they ambush their target, longing to remove from the other party the exact thing they desire.  Instead of finding a way to acquire independently what they long for, they assail and are only “satisfied” when their target no longer has what they want.

The cornerstone for leadership is knowing how to empower,  delegate, bestow peace and cooperation among a community.  The opposite of love is not hate, its indifference (Elie Weisel).  Korach’s initiative implied that he didn’t care for Moshe’s well being.  If he did care, he wouldn’t approach the leader of Israel with 250 men to form public accusations.

Who is Korach?  Is he just a famous foe in the Torah narrative?  Is he just someone we are supposed to remember so we don’t accord ourselves in the vein of his tyrannical tirade?

Let’s take a look at his name:

Korach:  Like “Kerach”  translated to ice:  as I indicated:  apathy, ice like dry and analytical, unfeeling way of assessing situations.  Not seeing deeply into a person, but making rash evaluations strictly from his personal schematic reality.

Korach turned around to the work רחק:  Same letters “Rachok”:  translates to distant.  One must assert emotional distance in order to perform ruthless acts.

חקר or Cheiker:  Translates to examination:  to examine another person in a linear strictly surface manner, not trying to understand that individual or situation a deeper way.

רקח:  To be mixed or compounded:  a compounding of thoughts, torn and indecisive in their conviction.  Not confident in the way one approaches things.

So who is Korach?  Korach is every one of us.

We are never the “number one” because there is always someone above us.  We examine our reality with our limited perspectives.  We distance ourselves from things we don’t understand and make judgements absent of compassion.  We can be apathetic if we feel someone is wrong or undeserving.

How can we transcend these tendencies?

Korach is our assessment that aligns with the path of least resistance.  It takes resistance to be compassionate with someone you don’t trust or dislike, it takes resistance to accept a reality that you feel is unjustified, it takes resistance to invoke feelings of love and acceptance with someone you abhor.

That said, it is the Korach within us that enables this kind of growth. The plague of divisiveness challenges us to mend the rifts in spite of our negative assessments. Even when the situation seems irreparable and decadent, it is the divine spark within us that allows us to form forests from deserts, white from crimson red, light from darkness, and good from evil.  This is a challenge we face that does not relent.  Each day we must remember that מחדש בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית:  we are renewed as it is the recreation of the world once again.  As we are refreshed, so are our trial and inclination to judge.

When Hashem created the world, the famous Midrash goes:  He had to balance “Judgement with Love”, because the world wouldn’t survive with a king who only judges others.  You can see this balance in King David’s words emanating from his psalm “Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis (a song sung for the inauguration of the Temple).  He states כי רגע באפו חיים ברצונו:  “That in a blink of an eye Hashem’s wrath comes forth, in life He desires.  Although there are moments where Hashem is angry with us, simultaneously He can wrap his arms around us with love and compassion even when we go astray.  So too it is our imperative to demonstrate that kind of love in the most deplorable situations.  We should always long to build one another up with compassion as Hashem does for us.

We should have the strength to face the Korach within us bearing in mind that sometimes, counterintuitive compassion, a.k.a LOVE must transcend our  judgements.   Shavua Tov, a good blessed week to all.

Do We Count? (Remembering the Holocaust)

May 2nd, 2014


Holocaust remembrance, Yom Hashoa, comes and goes every year leaving us with one simple question.  Is the entire point to remember, and never forget?  What can we extract from confronting the tragedy each year?

I felt bursts of inspiration when I stood in a packed room in Vancouver for the Yom Hashoa program.

There were certain questions that community members asked of me over the past year, and I suddenly had the answers inspired by this intense event.

Not one not two not three….

Why does Jewish law consider counting people such an egregious act?  It seems harmless, so why does the Torah enforce us to enumerate the nation indirectly with machtsit hashekels (coin valued at half a currency).

One of the speakers at the Yom Hashoa said, “We were simply targeted by the accident of being born Jewish.”  To follow that statement, once targeted, we were no longer anything but a number.  A degenerate nation who needed eradication, that was all we were to the Nazis.

So why is it so bad to count people directly?

For the same reason it was a horrific act when the Nazis counted us. They counted with intent to dehumanize, debase and destroy.

Counting negates individuality and bolsters anonymity.  When we are a number, we no longer matter.

Even when counting out of pride, to quantify the amount of people in one room evades the essence of each soul.

At the very least, counting each person with an same coin demonstrates that everyone is valued equally, without aggrandizing or diminishing a member of the community as well.

In addition, we count with the coins that the people distribute.  Rather than counting one another, while each person becomes a passive number, we count with coins, giving all involved an active role.

When a person puts a coin into the machtsit hashekel container, it demonstrates that we are a nation that doesn’t sit idly by while we ‘take a number’.  Our involvement paves our destiny, and we reinforce our existence by contributing to the machtist hashekel container.  So, next time you put a coin on Purim into the machtsit hashekel bowl, think about what that means for you.


Question two: “Rabbi, why does the Torah forbid tattoos?”


I usually describe how Hashem made us exactly as we should be, and a modification would be an insult to His creation.

Another answer came to me this year.  The numbers on survivor’s arms do not fade.  They painfully remind them of the nightmare of their past.  Those numbers, tattooed on, were not a choice.

As opposed to a tattoo someone might choose for a unique look, those tattoos marked them as a killing target.  Knowing the pain survivors continue to endure because of those numbers, how can someone voluntarily etch the body God granted them with such permanent art?

Sometimes, the choice to change is NOT up to us.  We are part of a mesorah (a chain of tradition).  Our elders who survived can clearly tell us, do not change what was given to you by God.  To have it and to cherish who you are is a mark of freedom and a blessing.


We are living in a drastically different generation and demographic.

We perceive endless choice, boundless possibilities, as freedom.  We have the freedom to explore, to do as we please, to question our traditions, to enjoy what we desire, and it often seems like the sky is the limit.

Ironically, when holocaust victims and survivors faced torture and certain death, their faith did not waiver.  Although they were chained and enslaved to cruel destiny created by an evil regime, so many continued to believe and decree their love for God and belief that He will deliver us from our troubles one day.  As one famous story told of an entire group marching to the gas chambers chanting in full voice, “I believe with absolute faith in the coming of Mashiach!”  They believed in redemption and yet were not in control of our lives.  We have practically unlimited choice, and sometimes that kind of “freedom” is stifling.  Our elders have placed the imperative on us to embrace our identity, not to modify it, not to run away from it, but to continue their dreams.  One thing I can tell you, this level of choice does grant us freedom to fully invest in our identities, and enables us to become not only who we ought to be, but what the victims wanted but could not actualize.  Let us join together and actualize their hopes and dreams, so not only their memory, but their legacy, never fades.



What a newborn can teach us

February 9th, 2014


Childbirth is a miracle, possibly one of the most emotionally riveting experiences a man could witness, but I wouldn’t know – first hand, because the Torah forbids a man from seeing even the birth of his own children.  Modesty is the reason we are given, but even for a miracle?

Too often we lament the loss or failure to have things or experiences.  We are convinced that in those unfulfilled acquisitions, relationships, concepts, we have lost the opportunity for true satisfaction.  We can’t seem to satisfy ourselves with nurturing, safeguarding and developing what we already have.  We are humans in a Divine world of endless and alluring possibilities.  A true dilemma, this.  What are we supposed to want and have?  Do our desires exceed our entitlement, or do we get more than we bargain for?

Wanting and attaining are not inherently bad. We are supposed to strive and pursue things we want, but how do we discern and differentiate our wants from our needs?

Does a man need to see the miracle of birth?  The Torah and Rabbis tell us this is a breach of modesty.  Maybe because as men, since we didn’t carry a child to term or endure labor, we are undeserving of seeing this part of the miracle.

So what miracle is a man permitted to see?  The most miraculous of all, those tiny little hands, those little feet, the sweet breathing, the child.  Almost too much to take in.

An infant’s trust is so innocent and so complete.  Extend your finger, and the baby grabs it without knowing who you are.  No questions, no resistance, no reserve, just trust.

When an infant needs, it asks in the most authentic language of all, a cry.  We aren’t so different when we are too overwhelmed to express ourselves.  We cry when we are beyond the conventional words to help frame our experience.  In an infant’s crying, there is neither weakness nor strength.  It is just the free expression that fits the moment or need.  An expression that as adults we mostly fear to reveal in public, because it belies the persona we believe is expected of us.  But when we hear it in a child, we are able to display our own emotions and not hold back.  How powerful.  How miraculous.

An infant craves warmth, the warmth of a caress or an embrace.  Closeness is how they feel love.  And it is well documented that absent this closeness, a child’s emotional development may be stunted.  Things change as children get older.  They continue to hug us, but cuddle less.  They might love us, but not in so fiercely physical a manner.  The infant reminds us of a closeness we can’t do without.

Yes, a man may not witness the miracle of childbirth.  But every act, every expression from an infant conveys an authentic self we recognize once again when the infant reveals it to us.  And if we truly let them in, they can change our lives and renew our own sense of hope, to get back to who we truly are.

Their souls are luminous, beckoning and magnetic.  They can do nothing for themselves, and that total dependence generates an incomparable love, that inspires us to love and care well beyond ourselves

What am I really saying when I say, “Baruch Hashem” (Bless God)?

January 21st, 2014


There is a moment described as disgraceful to Israel, and it involved a blessing!  Our leader’s father in law, Yisro, hears about the destruction of the Egyptians and the salvation of Israel.  In those moments after he shook with fear,  he then expressed the famous words, “Baruch Hashem”, “Bless God!” for performing these acts and saving Israel!

Our commentators state, ironically, that his blessing, disgraced the people of Israel.  It took THIS man, a proselyte, to bless God, before Israel ever did.

But was it such a big disgrace?  Israel just witnessed the splitting of the see and in response opened up with one of the greatest songs to go down in history, “Az Yashir”- “Then we will sing!”.  It was prophetic, sang in unison by every member of the tribe, including our children (imagine trying to get children to sing spontaneously an incredibly poetic and prophetic song! Impossible!).  The song described the wonders that transpired at the sea, and all the great miracles Hashem performed on our behalf.  It was much more than, “Baruch Hashem”!

So what’s the big deal?

Rabbi Shimon Shwab answers in the following way.  Yisro set an entirely different principle that was never expressed before.  As an individual, not a collective nation, he opened his mouth to bless Hashem.  In fact he opened his mouth to “give something” to Hashem.  A blessing connotes, we actually have something to give back.  How could we give anything to an omnipotent being that has it all?  Hashem tells us, “What do I ask of you, but to love, and fear and perform all of my mitzvot (commandments).”  Hashem asks for reciprocity, because it isn’t real if it would be coercion.  Yisro personally reciprocates with this blessing to Hashem, without any coaxing or peer pressure.  The nation of Israel only thought to sing, when they came together and experienced a collective salvation.  They needed to be together in order to thank Hashem, bless Hashem.  They couldn’t do it on their own, unlike Yisro.  That imparts an important lesson for us all.

We shouldn’t wait to bless someone or something, or say thank you, because it is the standard, or the norm.  When we recognize greatness, when we feel someone has done something for us, the positive response should be immediate.  The reciprocity should be natural and not drawn out by public expectation.  We ought to expect from ourselves to perform based on our own productive and positive convictions.

That was what Yisro expressed.  He sensed the greatness of our creator, and that was all he needed to verbally acknowledge and bless the moment.

There are so many blessings in our lives, but it’s often easy to neglect and overlook them, because we are so busy focusing on what we think we are lacking (or perceive we deserve.)  So many acts of rebellion transpired by the nation of Israel after the splitting of the sea, where they lay claims on God that they were “sent to the desert to die.”  Hashem’s kindness and compassion didn’t last, and sometimes other people’s kindness and compassion doesn’t stay with us as well, because we are only lamenting on what we think we are missing in life.

Yisro actually had a lot to lament about.  He was originally an advisor to king Pharaoh, fully immersed in idolatry, and living a life antithetical to the Jewish existence.  The Egyptian’s demise was a direct philosophical disintegration to all of his prior beliefs and previous life.  He certainly could have lamented, mourned what he no longer had.  And it almost seemed initially, that his physical reaction was that lamentation.  ויחד:  his reaction was, “And he shook”.  Rashi and Seforno and others say, he had bumps coursing through his entire body upon hearing of the Egyptian demise.  But his words countered the emotional sentiment.  His words were his step towards the future.  His words were what paves his way to a new reality, and not the initial physiological reaction.

This imparts another powerful message.  Just because our body reacts, physically and emotionally to a situation, doesn’t mean we need to align with that reaction.  In fact, this may be counter to the popular motto “follow our hearts”.  But our hearts don’t always adhere to our religious and ethical principles.  Even if Yisro’s heart said, shudder and consider the loss of a previous life, his mouth spoke different.  His mouth dictated reality.  His mouth called it a blessing.  And our sages teach, “דברים שבלב אינו דברים”  “Devarim Shebilev Aino Devarim” (Words inside of the heart are not words- unless they are spoken).  We choose our destiny based on our actions and speech, not our thoughts.  And hopefully, if we are consistent with our principles of life, our thoughts will synchronize with our every word and every movement, more and more, each day.

If I would bring this lesson to a few basic words, they would be:  You do not feel your reality, you Make your reality.

Go and make your reality.

Have a great weak :)

snow shoe to your core.

January 14th, 2014


Everyone has there reasons to go out to the wilderness.  Part of the beauty of that journey is keeping it intimate, not explaining its intended purpose.   Regardless of our personal reason, there is a shared experience in the stroll of solitude.  Today I had the pleasure to snow shoe… solo.  What does it do for us, why do we do it?

It helps us move away from our distractions, all the things enmeshed into our reality and become one with something else, and I don’t really mean nature.  There is plenty of nature in Vancouver, it’s gorgeous here!  I don’t believe anyone who says they get bored of the mountainous views, the archipelagos en route to whistler, the breathtaking water and sights.  I just don’t believe it.

You become one with the self.  How so?

Hashem, our God, veils kedusha (holyness) into every single facet of this physical world. That being said, it’s not always easily perceived, because we take the physical manifestations of holyness and often use it and abuse it for our own purpose.  I’ve always wondered if G-d really intended for us to make the fruit roll up, the jolly ranchers, the industrial plants, the TV, the atom bomb, etc.  The raw material is molded into what we think we need or desire.

And sometimes we need to escape from all of those inventions.  When we get to a place that is left practically uncultivated, where nature is left to its own devices, asides from the paths we pave to take it in…there is a purity.  It is expressing itself from its very core, its very foundations.

That symbiotic expression, that consistent manifestation of nature expressed and unmodified is so incredible, it compels us to look into ourselves and wonder, what are we suppose to cultivate and leave uncultivated?  How much have we acted based on our passions, our principles, or our authentic self?  Nature emits a desire for us to revert back to the basics, without the hindrance of any physical, cognitive and spiritual changes.  We might rewind and think, what resides in our mind, in our actions, do they coalesce or conflict?

Initially I had my headphones on and plugged into music, and it actually was ruining the hike.  I pulled them out and suddenly I was able to enjoy myself, and think about my own core.

The big question is:  Can we get to this place when immersed in our everyday life???

I was listening to some lectures today about focused thought, how to get there, and a very important statement crossed my ears.  It is said to be from the Ba’al Shem Tov derived from Nachmonidies:

“The place that our thoughts go, is the place we actually are in.”

It was something along those lines.  Meaning, we can be in one place physically, but be entirely somewhere else, because our essence is our thoughts.  Our thoughts determine our true reality.  The purity of nature when left uncultivated is so clean and beautiful, we wouldn’t dare taint it.  If we considered for a moment what it meant to have a pure clean thought like uncultivated nature, we wouldn’t dare want to taint it.

Hiking today motivated me to find a way to get to that place more often, where my cognition is not a hodgepodge of tasks, desires and responsibilities… rather just one pure thought at a time.

I hope one day we all can get to a place where we don’t find serenity by merely escaping the burdens of life, but can tap into that place wherever we are, because we long to discover our core, and nourish our soul.



Shovels and Dirt: Parables for life

January 6th, 2014

shovel-dirt-webThere are parables we derive from life experiences.

One example can be the act of burial.

Dry dirt:  On a beautiful sunny day, and when the dirt is dry, it goes in more easily.  It is not encumbered or burdened by the element of weather, and the lightness of the dirt flows almost too easily through the shovel.

Reflection:  our bodies, our major sustaining element is water.  It is what we are, what we drink, our rippled reflection, our attraction to the sea, the tears that flow, the sweat of our brow, the droplets from the sky.  It is all encompassing, and on so many levels projects vitality and life.   Without the water, the burden of burial is not as apparent.  The dryness isn’t heavy, perhaps lifeless and almost hollow.  The very element which sustains us is also the one that makes it hard to let go when someone fades from the world.

How we shovel:  Unfortunately, as I have frequented the cemetery, I thought about how to pace myself when I shovel.  When someone comes in with all of their enthusiasm, and puts all their weight into shoveling, they also usually peter out quickly.  When it is slow, methodical, steady, the job gets done at a good pace, because endurance prevails.

Reflection:  The pace of shoveling is so much like our pace of life.  We often are struggling to attain desired results, finished products.  And that leads us sometimes to act quickly, rashly, and irrationally.  We move in haste because we only have the end goal in mind, not the process.  However, the end goal can be accomplished, perhaps even better, when we are more patient, when we are slow and steady, when we appreciate the here and now.

This flows on so many levels.

Our children:  We can push through the day, dread the hard moments, long for bedtime, and hope for respite from the noise.  Or we can cherish the moments, embrace the noise, appreciate the milestones, think deeply about our personal experiences with them, and pace ourselves through each second of life.  No moment is insignificant for them, it shouldn’t be for us as well.

Ourselves:  Do we shovel hard hoping to fill the hole, or consider our movements?  Do we pace ourselves well enough to look forward to not only tomorrow, but also today?

When we take our time and don’t feel overburdened, we don’t have to come in to each day with a heavy heart.  As our Torah etches for us:  ויחזק לב פרעה:  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened: many of our commentators suggest this was not Divine’s subjugation of his free will, but Pharaoh’s will to hold on to his heresy and disbelieve in a higher power great than himself.

When we pace ourselves, not only do we slow down, we are able to hear rich and deep messages from the environment around us.

So I guess now it’s time to ask you.

How do you shovel?





Return to blogging.

October 7th, 2013

Welcome back to the new year, everyone (for those that celebrate the Jewish new year).  Work is back in full swing, kids are back in school, and the ideas are flowing…endlessly.

I think it’s about time to start  blogging through the ideas to work through the concepts that are floating in my stream of conscious.

So stay tuned for quite a few Torah blogs.

Look forward to writing!

death, and death

May 7th, 2013

Calvin-gets-existentialquite a morbid title, I know…

Most likely will keep away a few readers, but that’s not why I write my blog.  I should probably explain why I do it, because I neglected to give that form of clarity since its inception.

The tangent on why I write my blog:

There is a famous line that iterates an important principle of the Steipler Gaon:  A life that one leaves unrecorded isn’t worth living.  It places an imperative, perhaps an unfair one, on all of us.  Write what you’ve learned in this world, share it with others, at the risk of being criticized or ignored.  Write nonetheless.  Recording one’s thoughts is one of many methods of self examination.

I am far from good at adhering to this principle, in fact I’m a delinquent.  The thoughts never stop, and I often wonder how much worthy material passes through me and fades from my mind.  Perhaps it leaves because I have done absolutely nothing with it.  Maybe those thoughts deem me unworthy of retention.  I’m ok with that, for now.

So why do I write, if I neglect so many thoughts?  When I feel compelled to write, the thoughts press on my entire being and they don’t let go.  And my resolution is to put it in writing hoping the feelings will ooze out, to provide me with some clarity and relief.  I hope my reason for writing changes soon, but I’ll tell you my reason for letting the other thoughts pass me by.

I have a hard time distinguishing the thoughts that are merely external influences entering into my stream of consciousness and the thoughts that are resonating in my very core.  Why write if it’s not from the core?  It’s the same with a song…why write if it’s not from the core.  The melody isn’t real, it’s just a recycled hodge podge of lyrics and melody that aren’t really who I am, anyway.

So there it is.  Why I write.


Back to the title:  I’m waiting for my flight to new york, to bury my wife’s grandfather, Robert Ratzker.  This is the third funeral I’ve flown to NY for in just over a year.  My dear Aunt Ruthie and Grandma Hellen have left this world as well, just over a year ago.  I visit the hospital, as you’ve read from my previous blog, and I think considerably about how to heal and how to die.

I develop relationships with patients who have healed and who have died, too many.  And I think about if I am really living.  Or perhaps another way to put it, am I living enough.  We receive assurance and approval from our family and friends that all is well, but death makes you second guess your existence.  It makes you wonder, is life even about deserving life?  Why does our soul exist inside of our body for as long as it does?

Honestly, I don’t have answers to these questions, only more questions flowing through my core, begging me to search for answers.

When someone you actually care about dies, it makes me try to find the answers, search a little deeper, longer, with more alacrity.

But I will still ask myself, is that what I am suppose to learn from this, or have I even scratched the surface.


too be continued


March 21st, 2013

DP169568There are bouts of our existence where we have the opportunity to stop and wonder, what do I do next?  As rare as these chances are, they also feel constant.  At that point there is a choice that leads to every and no road simultaneously.  Where is the path we are suppose to choose is entirely left up to us.  We can peg the choice on an external factor, a friend, a loved one, a foe, a stressful situation, an incentive, but ultimately the choice is ours.  At the end of the day, no one else controls our will.  No one else can do for us.  There are no messengers that moves our hands, the flutter of our lashes, rolling of our eyes, gulp in our throat, the clenching of our fists.  Nothing keeps us awake and puts us to asleep.  Nothing makes us smile or forces us to cry.  When we (if) arrive at this realization, it’s quite jarring.  Someone might argue it’s liberating to know the choice is ours and ours alone.  However, there is that word we can’t evade, that concept that holds us in its tentacles for all of time.  Loneliness.  If my will is mine alone, when will I ever NOT feel alone.  That’s perhaps why we tend to attribute our development, our identity, to things outside of ourselves.  We thank our parents for teaching us to live honest lives and appreciate all we are given, thank our spouses for actualizing our potential and finding respite in this dizzy world, thank our mentors for teaching us things we otherwise couldn’t possibly discover, thank our children for teaching us patience, blame our adversaries for anger, blame the media for coaxing us into impulsive consumerism and irrational political perspectives, blame the weather for bad moods, blame metaphysical stumbling blocks for our limitations.  Yet we know deep down, all these choices are ours. Admitting to that level of independence is a yolk upon our neck, a reality that is cumbersome. It is also liberating, with the proviso of accepting the responsibility of our every move. But let me ask you this. Which is worse?  Taking the blame for the outcomes of our lives, or having no choice at all. I will leave the CHOICE in your hands ;).