Watching the Pot

I’m a firm believer in G-d, but I often struggle with Him.

He has given us various ways to begin to feel the joy He feels.
He gave us artistic talents so that we can feel the joy of creating something beautiful, something awe-inspiring with our own hands.
He gave us words so that we can weave them together into stories, build universes, and create characters with extensive personalities.
He gave our bodies the miraculous ability to create and birth humans, allowing us to feel an unbreakable and impossible joy in their achievements and pain.
He gave us the ability to teach, inspire and care for others. He gave us the power to be the pavers of our own paths, to make choices every day, to build a life made up of so many various different activities and people.
He gave us the ability to believe that we are the masters of our own destiny.
He went so far as to take Himself out of the picture, to allow us to think that we are the ones creating the lives we have, forgetting that we are but characters in a storybook, a paintbrush in an artists hand, a body at the mercy of its mind.
To me, the reason He did all of this, despite the pain it must bring Him, is so that we can relate to Him. So that we could begin to imagine the magnitude of what He has done.
One who has never felt the joy of creating something all their own could not possibly understand how it aches to let it go, to allow others to criticize, adapt, and misunderstand their work.
G-d watches us do this each day, take His perfect handiwork and destroy it.
I constantly walk the tightrope of knowing that I’m not in charge, yet believing that I am. I constantly struggle to let go, to fall backward and allow life to happen to me, for the dangers of that seem to outweigh the benefits.
I watch the pot, achingly waiting for it to boil. I daydream and write my future story so clearly, I often worry I’ve ruined it for myself. I so desperately want to be the author of my own life, yet I am deeply aware that that would make for a terrifying reality.
I often wonder – what does G-d want from me?
Do I plant the seeds or do I stay away from the garden?
Do I raise the flame, or walk away from the kitchen?
Do I write in pen, or do I drop the pencil?
How do I find the balance between grabbing life by the horns, yet allowing life to follow its natural unfolding?
I take great joy in creating something new – a poem, a meal, a story.
I know that my abilities in creation are limited, much more limited than His.
Yet when I look at my life, and my heart aches to make life happen on my own, without waiting, without holding back, without watching the calendar turn pages, I turn to G-d and beg Him to allow me to hold the pencil.
Allow me to feel as if I am writing my story.
Allow Your plan and my dreams to collide, to leak into my life.
G-d, allow my dreams to come true.
For when they do, I’ll know without a doubt that I am only a character in Your story, only a sketch under Your pencil. I’ll know because only You know the intricacies of my brain, my soul, my heart. You handcraft my dreams just as You handcraft my reality.
You’ve given me the ability to create – now allow me the joy of taking life into my own hands and watching my dreams blossom from the seeds I plant, the water I boil, the life I live.
Blog Post: 47/52

Featured Photo by Kowit Phothisan on Unsplash

A Poem for Today

Tomorrow is when
the flowers bloom
The grass grows
The project ends
And the diet begins.

Tomorrow is when
things come easy
Dreams come true
Tasks get done
And life makes sense.

Tomorrow is when
I’ll write the poem
Start the book
Call the friend
And chase my dreams.

And one day
I’ll make tomorrow
Into today
And I’ll stop saying
Tomorrow.

And I’ll start
With writing this poem
On a day
In which there are no more tomorrows
To push today upon.

Blog post: 46/52

Featured photo via Unsplash.

When the World Burned

She turned around.

Like Lots wife, she felt her soul leave her body, but instead of becoming salt, she felt her heart, mind and soul explode into a thousand pieces as she watched the world burn.
Her small son in her arms, all that she had left of her family, was wailing, his young face streaked with ash. Pieces of their universe fell around them like the snow Jerusalem hadn’t gotten in so long.
It was more than heart rending or tragic, it was the end.
There couldn’t possibly be a day tomorrow, a new dawn. The birds couldn’t possibly sing praise to a G-d who could allow such torturous destruction of an empire, of a nation, of a world.
She pulled her son closer as he cried the tears she couldn’t even find. His belly was empty, yet she could not provide, for she had not eaten in weeks. The fact that she had not yet collapsed with the rest of her family was a miracle she didn’t understand, nor cared to be grateful for. Life was not something she prayed for anymore.
Her mind, against her will, went back to the last Passover, a day that began in hope and prayer, but ended in massacre and mourning. Her uncle who had risked his life to come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and praises to his G-d had been killed that day, in the holy temple, together with her father and her oldest brother.
The starvation was next, destroying what little will the Jews still had. Her tears began to fall as she recalled the faces of her mother and sisters as they worked together to create meals out of dust for their families. One after the other, her nieces and nephews, her own children, her sisters and brothers died of starvation, their bellies empty, their hearts broken, in a world so dismal most prayed it would be them next.
And then, today.
As her surviving neighbors, her husband, as they banded together, and despite their impossible pain, made the choice to fight back, there was a roar.
The Temple was on fire.
She watched in disbelief as everyone around her rose like one body and charged towards the Temple, armed with nothing but sheer hatred towards Jerusalem’s enemies. She watched as they foolishly attempted to put out the destructive flames. She watched, numb, as her husband was engulfed by the flames, destroying everything she had left. She looked into the eyes of her son, and with  strength that came from somewhere she didn’t know she had, she lifted him from the ground and ran.
She didn’t look back as she heard the tortured screams, she didn’t look back as she felt the rivers of blood rise up to her ankles, she didn’t look back as she felt the heat of the fire on her neck.
She held her son and ran.
And then, she turned around.
And she watched everything end. She watched the impossible occur. She watched everyone she knew and ever loved go up in flames, sacrificed like animals on the altar.
She raised her eyes towards the heavens, the sky heavy with smoke and misery.
Bitter tears climbed up her throat, she ached in every way, calling out for her Ima, her Abba, her children she helplessly watched die.
Her son laid his head on her heart, holding her, afraid she would crack.
Her son who’s entire life had been this nightmare.
She knew.
She knew that if there was to be a future, a tomorrow, they would never be able to grasp how earth shattering this pain was. What it felt like to be alive when the entire world was burning.
What it meant to be the one who had to wake up tomorrow, who had to still scrounge for something to feed her son, to smile through the tears so that her son would know what love was.
She hoped.
For the first time in months, she felt the stirrings of hope deep inside her chest.
She hoped that someone would try, that they would not be forgotten, that someone would truly mourn.
She hoped that somehow, this destroyed nation would piece themselves together. That they would rebuild, yet not replace. That they would remember each and every lost soul, that they would bring themselves to a humbled place and remember.
She looked at her son, his eyes still bright with future, and she knew why she had survived.
For her son.
For the future.
For the next chapter.
As she gazed back at the flaming city, she saw one wall of the outer temple gates undeterred, unmoved by the destruction.
Like her, it watched as everything around it collapsed to the pain, yet it stood strong, unwavering.
And she knew that the same way she would provide comfort and strength for her son, that wall would forever stand for the Jewish people, as a symbol of hope, as a symbol of strength.
And as she enveloped her son in her arms, and together they cried, she saw that one day, again, the Jews would flock to Jerusalem.
Blog Post: 45/52
featured photo via Unsplash

Finding Time

Last week I wrote a blog post with my eyes half closed, forcing the words to come out, one after the other, in a way that made any sort of sense.

I wrote it, I published it in the last couple of hours of the week, and called it a day.
I didn’t share it on my facebook like I usually did. I didn’t attach a photo. I even forgot to write what number blog post it was.
I was really close to skipping it altogether. In fact, in my mind, I was already writing this weeks post, all about how I finally missed a week.
But my heart, my soul, my words wouldn’t let me cop out.
So, I put everything aside and got it done.
It wasn’t great. I wouldn’t even say it was good.
But sometimes, life demands everything you have.
Sometimes things get so busy that hobbies, projects, and pretty much anything selfish has to take a back burner for a while.
And I came really close to breaking my blogging streak. Before camp started, I could count on one hand how many times I’d skipped my daily morning prayers in the last 3 years. Since camp started, I don’t have enough fingers to count.
Sometimes, life demands everything you have.
But I didn’t want it to take this.
I’ve been blogging weekly for 43 weeks now.
In a big way, it’s selfish. I don’t expect anyone to care if I miss a week. I don’t expect anyone to care to hear my thoughts. So it’s pretty much entirely selfish.
But then, there are those times that my writing reaches a soul, and it transforms that piece of writing for me.
And this week, someone texted me after Shabbat to tell me that they were quite alarmed when they thought I had missed a week.
And my heart sang.
Because it is moments like that that assure me that I am not yelling into the abyss.
Yes, these blog posts are selfish.
I was so close to not writing one at all last week. My brain was too full of schedules and games, to-do lists and errands to find any creative words floating around.
But then, in the quiet night, I sat and I reflected and I wrote.
And it put everything into perspective.
I didn’t push that blog post, I didn’t share it on Facebook. Almost nobody saw it.
But I did. I reflected. I wrote. It put my exhausting week into order, it reminded me of what it was all for.
With just a week and a half left to camp, I will be able to give my blog more attention soon.
But for now, I couldn’t skip a week, because for one moment, I had to be selfish.
Blog Post: 44/52

Featured Photo via Google.

Busy Days, Full Heart

My days have been a little full.

Waking up in the early hours of the morning, not finding my bed until so many hours later, the hours between filled with non-stop on-my-feet work.
At the end of each day, as my tired eyes can barely stay awake, I review the days events, and no matter how difficult the day was, I feel incredibly grateful for the feeling I have.
This summer is opening up my eyes to so many blessings I’ve been gifted with. This summer camp job that is less of a job and more of a lifestyle pushes me daily to the max – but I’m capable of doing it.
I am so lucky and privileged to lead the life I live, to be healthy enough to run around all day, to work as hard as I am.
Oftentimes our eyes are so blinded that blessings are disguised. We forget that the reason we are tired and have aching bones is a blessing in and of itself.
And as Shabbat settles down into my home, I look back at the week behind me, the full, non-stop, exhausting week, and I am filled with the sweetest joy.
With my family all around me, and good food on the table, it is so clear to me how blessed I am.
My blog post of the week will be short, perhaps it doesn’t even qualify as a blog post, but I’m writing it with sleep heavy on my eyes, and I am so grateful for every aching bone.
For it represents so much more than just an ache. The ache will fade on Shabbat, but all the joy will remain.
Shabbat shalom!
Blog Post: 43/52

The Before

A poem titled: Potential.

 

A baby, fresh in his parents arms.
Fingers and toes,
A beating heart,

A lifetime ahead.

A couple, on the brink of the rest of their life,
Breathless with joy,
A new home,
Full hearts and big plans,

A story waiting to be told.

A child, feet swinging in his chair,
A new notebook,
New pens and an open mind,

Eager to be nurtured.

A seed, buried gently by fingers,
Watered and watched,
Cared for and sun-kissed,

A flower about to bloom.

Me, as I wipe the sleep from my eyes,
Yesterday’s mistakes fresh on my mind.
I feel pockmarked with
Bad choices.

  …. 
A fresh start
Doesn’t mean the cracks
On my fragile heart have healed
But it means
I can fix them.

 …. 
A fresh start
Doesn’t mean my soul
Is ready to speak to me,
But it means
Today-

Maybe I’ll listen.

Each day I awaken
With fresh potential
Always able to turn a page,
A new chapter,

A new start.

Yesterday may be stained
With yesterday’s pain
But today is still clean
And the future lies in wait.
And lives are waiting to be changed
And stories are waiting to be told
And lessons are waiting to be learned
And growth is waiting to be grown
And time is standing still

For only a moment.

Blog Post: 42/52


Featured Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

When Death Tried to Retire

Disclaimer:
I am well aware that death, depression, grief, anxiety and everything else mentioned in this piece are incredibly personal and private experiences. I am in no way making any form of statement, or passing judgment on those who deal with or have ever dealt with any of it. This is simply a creative piece born from a writing prompt, and I hope that everyone can read it with that understanding. There are allusions to suicide, depression, and grief. If those are things you are sensitive to, wait for my next blog post, I promise it won’t be this heavy.

I’ve been working at my job for thousands of years. For real – I’ve been here since the beginning of time. I was a good employee, I would imagine. I always fulfilled my duties, never complained, never questioned my task list, never protested. Well, there were a couple of times..and I actually won the argument with my Boss occasionally. But most of the time I accepted what I had to do, and separated my personal feelings from the task at hand.
But I’ve had enough.
I’ve been working this job for so long, and I’m ready for retirement. I’m ready for a life of pleasure, kicking it back..enjoying things a little bit. I’ve handed in my notice but turns out, I have to find my own replacement.
The old Boss made me promise I wouldn’t go off to my life of retirement until I’d found someone to handle my job. Apparently, the world can’t function for even one minute without someone doing my job.
So today the search begins.
I’ve made a list of prospective replacements.
To start, there’s Life.
Life is always complaining about her job. She’s always grumping about being unappreciated, and being taken advantage of. She’s always seemed so envious of my role.
“They’re afraid of you, Death! When you’re nearby, they do everything you say. Suddenly, I’m soooo important when you’re around, but as soon as you’re not there, they totally forget all the promises they made me.”
I can’t even tell you how many times she’s moaned and groaned to me about that. As if I could do anything about it.
Occasionally, we’ve worked together if she was particularly struggling with a task. I’d come close enough to really shake things up, but then I’d disappear before completing the job. She’s always been really grateful when I’ve done that. But so often, she’s frustrated that she even needs to call me in, that she can’t do it on her own.
So she’s definitely a possible candidate, she’d love to have my job.
Illness has always been a little wary of me. I’m not sure why, being that we often have to work together. It would just be easier for us get along..but she’s always whispering over there with Life about me, always judging me and openly admitting that she wishes I just wouldn’t show up to work some days.
Ouch.
I don’t think I’ll approach Illness at all..I’ve never gotten any friendly vibes, she always just shuts down when I’m around.
Skip that.
My friend Grief might be interested. He’s been around for as long as I can remember. Very rarely do I have a job that he’s not there for, and when I have a job that isn’t on his task list, it makes my job so much more unpleasant and depressing. But he’s so good at what he does, and he loves his work. He’s always talking about how rewarding it is to pass his job off to Life, how the work itself is so difficult and painful but the results of a successful job are so enriching. When he completes a task, he’s on a high until he gets to the next one.
I couldn’t take that away from him.

Depression! I can’t believe I forgot about that guy. He is obsessed with me, always following me around, always asking me questions about my job, always trying to secretly add to my task list. I’ve tried to force him and Life to hang out more, but they just couldn’t get along.

The truth is, it’s been lonely doing what I do.

As much as I love the others, I’ve never been anyone’s real best friend. Other than Depression that is, and that is very one way. Everyone has seemed to try to avoid me as much as possible. For example, the other day I walked into a party that Life was throwing. It looked amazing. Depression and Anxiety were in the corner, Grief was just moving to the music slightly, but you should have seen Illness. She was dancing it up in the center. Kindness was right up there with her, Generosity was the DJ, and you should have seen Love. I’ve never seen anything look more beautiful. She was surrounded by Gratitude and Appreciation, and they were just staring at her adoringly.

I watched all this from the outside and figured I’d join the party. As soon as I walked in though, it was as if the entire party shut down in an instant. Depression and Anxiety perked up, but everyone else just stared at me. Love began to cry, and I was only there for a couple of seconds before Life stormed up to me and pushed me with two hands.
“Get out of here, Death! Nobody wants you here! Just leave!”
So I did.
I cried all night long, wishing I was given a different role at the beginning of time. I would never be like them, I’d never be welcome. Grief once confided in me that every time he turned a corner, he hoped he would bump into Love or Life, always dreaming of them. I know that the only ones who dream about me are Depression and Hopelessness and I’m just not interested.
When I told the Boss I was thinking of retirement, I was met with extremely disappointed eyes.
“You’re great at your job, Death. Nobody can do what you do”
I took it as a compliment then, but I’m starting to realize it just might be the truth.

Nobody that hasn’t done my job since the beginning of time could possibly understand what I do.
Depression might think he wants to be me and have my job but I know who he needs to spend more time with. Understanding. Support. Happiness. Recovery. They’ve never wanted to hang out with me, and that’s how I know they’re much better for him.
My job is pretty horrible. But occasionally, my task list isn’t so bad.
Sometimes I get to work with Pride and Contentment. Occasionally, I get to work with Satisfaction. Those are the good times.
I’ll never forgive the Boss for the times He’s made me work with Evil and Cruelty. Anger. Fear. They are the worst of the worst, I’d say even less liked than me, but at least they have each other.
I do wish I had just one friend, one real friend, someone who understood me, and my role. Who understood that there are times it destroys me to carry out my task, but I know that it has to be done. That when I pass a task on to Grief or Heartbreak, nothing hurts more. But then when months later, I watch Grief and Life get to work together, or I see Support and Care working on one of my previous tasks, my heart is warmed.
So perhaps I won’t retire very soon.
But I’ll be renegotiating my terms.
I’ll be asking for a shorter task list, a much shorter task list. Because honestly, I think everyone’s getting a little tired of my job, especially me.
And I’ll let the Boss know that I refuse to work with Depression any longer. The more time he spends with me, the less he understands that he should really be striving to be like Life.
While I feel privileged to have such a unique job, I’m determined to be the only one who does what I do, no matter how lonely that makes me feel.
And while I’m talking to the Boss, I should really talk to Him about that crazy clique, that Evil-Cruelty clique. I’m not going to be doing any projects with them anymore either, no thank you.
And maybe, in a little while, when I do completely phase out and retire, maybe Life will be able to look at me without anger flashing in her eyes, and Love can spend some time with me without it always ending with her in tears. Maybe Grief will join me in retirement, and maybe I’ll finally be allowed to hang out at a party, as long as I promise that I really have retired and have no plans for a comeback.
It’ll come. That day will come.

Blog Post: 41/52

Featured Photo by Madison Grooms on Unsplash

A Letter To The Ocean

First,
May I begin with an apology,
For I know we all seem
Like we love hypocrisy.
 …
People flock to your shores
But when you try to come closer
We flee, put up walls, shut our doors.
  …
We humans throw ourselves
Inside of you
Aching to fight your current
Yearning for the challenge
Of keeping ourselves afloat.
Why do we do that?
  …

Ocean, a hypocrisy yourself.
Your water,
It gives life,
But in an instant,
It can take it.

 … 
Which kind of reminds me of myself.
I am inherently good,
A creation of G-d.
Yet sometimes I feel closer to evil,
Destructive,
Of mind, body and soul.
  …
Your roar is both silent
And loud at the same time.
Your waves are both menacing
And welcoming.
You are paradise
And destruction.
  …
And I love every moment
I get to share with you.
As you wash away my pain,
My tears disguised
As your own.
You hold so many of my memories,
Sweet ones,
Summer ones.
  …
You’re endless in the way
That I need.
A reminder that there is no limit
To your vastness
That there is no limit
to greatness.
No limit
to joy.
  …
So I thank you
for even though you know I can’t stay
You’ve welcomed me
Again and again,
To get lost
For as long as I need.
  …

Blog Post: 40/52

Featured photo by Karl Frederickson via Unsplash.

Here’s To Life

As another school year ends, and another summer begins, I am once again taken aback at how quickly time seems to go.

As a kid, it would stretch on forever, endlessly, the wait to grow up was so long.
I remember hearing my parents talk about quick years and I couldn’t begin to understand them. A year was a lifetime.
While I’m certainly not as old as my parents are just yet, I’m starting to notice how quickly the years go by. As I count on my fingers how long it’s been since I graduated high school, or spent a summer in Atlanta, I realize that time is slipping through those fingers in a frightening way.
Taking advantage of time is so difficult, for it moves so quickly, and it’s so much easier to watch the sand fall in the time-glass and exclaim at how fast it’s going than it is to take life by the horns, ignore the time-glass and LIVE.
As my summer begins, and I am quite privileged to still have a summer, it’s easy to make all sorts of resolutions for the summer days. I’m going to eat clean, and go swimming every day, live each summer day from dawn until dusk, and soak in every ray of sun and every memory of laughter filled evenings around a fire.
But alas, I know that summer is not all that different from winter in the sense that it passes you by, and you find yourself at the end of it before you know it.
I have an exciting summer ahead, and I’m looking forward to it. Yet I am afraid of myself wasting it away, watching the clock, trying to slow it.
I often catch myself escalating my expectations for myself, lifting the bar much too high, setting myself up for failure. For while reaching for the stars is important, sometimes my capabilities don’t match my goals.
And then I find myself frustrated at my inability to keep on track.
If you’re a loyal reader, then you know that I struggle to live in the moment, and this is only a sub-plot of that story in my life. I want the very best for my future self, but my current self often struggles to keep up.
This summer, I’ll be traveling to Europe. Next year, I’ll be chasing some bigger dreams, the next chapter I’ve been waiting to start for a long time now. A chapter that will allow for bigger and better. That will allow me to start acting on all the things I talk about.
And that makes me excited – all of it. New goals, new adventures.
But for now, I want to work so hard on the day-by-day. To not think about when the summer ends, and when next year begins, and about endings and beginnings. I don’t want to day-dream about a time that is not in my present life, I don’t want to mope about things I don’t have yet.
I want to live.
Because time does go by in the blink of an eye, but it goes even quicker when you’ve got your eyes on the finish line.
I’ve recently begun meditation as a part of a course I was taking. It’s an experiment to see what happens to me when I take some time to just focus.
The first few times were tough. I was all over the place, my brain could not stop thinking about my to-do list, and what I was going to do as soon as I stood up.
But the next few times, I just focused on the breathing. Each time my mind wandered, I yanked it back. Not to think about anything – only to feel the breath go in, and out.
Because sometimes, life just requires presence. No planning, no thinking, no dreaming.
Just. Pure. Presence.
It’s what I struggle with most.
It’s what I want most from my summer.
So here goes tackling one major obstacle, and here’s to overcoming it. For I know that it will pay itself back in my life in a million ways, so no matter how hard, it’s certainly worth it.
So instead of worrying about how time flies, and how the summer will be gone before I know it, I will focus on today, and how I’m going to make it count.
Tomorrow, I will focus on tomorrow.
Blog Post: 39/52

Featured Photo by Srikanta H. U on Unsplash

What is Beauty to Me?

In a world of beauty,
and a world
of ugly,
what
is
beauty
to me?
oooo
A heart ripped open
beating
pulsing
a heart worn
on one’s sleeve:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A plate filled
with warm flavors,
warm laughter,
a moment
together:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A handwritten letter,
a smeared edge,
thought
put into
each word:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A small face streaked
with leftover
dinner
sticky hands
a bright smile:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
The sound of the sea,
the silence,
and roar,
the stars above:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A tear on a face,
a whisper
of love,
a look
that says everything:
that is beauty
to me.

Blog Post: 38/52.

Featured Photo by STIL on Unsplash