Beauty, Snow, and Trash

The first snowfall

in Brooklyn.

Blanketing the parked cars,

the few blades of grass,

and the trash,

I watched as

the snow whispered

to the ugly city streets:

“You, too, can be beautiful.”

Today, as the snow fell outside,

I watched a repairman

take his bad day out on those he was meant to service,

and I thought,

What would it take for this to be beautiful?

How does one level the playing field

of the human species,

as the undercurrents of animosity grow?

Why is this not beautiful?

What kind of pain grew in this man’s heart,

shaping the new way he breathed,

seeing everyone but himself as the enemy?

How, how do I make this better,

how do I lift the cloak of ugly and reveal beauty?

Because there is no question that it is there.

Because it’s always there.

My one-year-old nephew saw beauty

in the wet snowfall as it landed

on my arms

and his eyelashes,

as he giggled

at the novelty of it.

As he laughed,

I found beauty too,

in the heavy, wet, slush

that surrounded me,

remembering my first snowfalls,

before I realized the snow was something

that could ruin someone’s day

or cause an accident

or delay travel plans.

I was born the day before a snowstorm

that left thousands without power.

Today,

I felt the first scratch of a story fall into line in my mind,

about a man that was a repairman,

and what it means to find beauty

in bitter words and angry days,

and about how much more everything is then it seems.

Maybe one day I’ll write it.

I’m not sure it’s time just yet.

Because he was just a repairman,

and I’m

not

a therapist

just yet.

But when I am,

and I’m tasked with finding beauty

in pain, and ugly, and muddy tracks,

perhaps I’ll look at the snow

to remember

that beauty can be found

even on the city streets

that are

filled with old

thanksgiving

trash.

 

28/52.

 

 

Dear 12-year-old Me

It’s been ten (and a half, to be precise) years since I’ve been twelve.

I’ve been thinking about 12-year-old me a lot recently. I’m not sure why, she just keeps coming into my mind. It’s interesting, being an “adult,” because that’s all I ever wanted back then, that age when everything would just make sense.

I have good news and bad news for 12-year-old me.

The good news is, honestly, a lot of the time, it does make sense. Things just work. I get to do what I want. I’ve come a long way since 12, had a few muddled years in between, but now…I’m good. I understand what makes me tick, what makes me angry, and (roughly) how to make myself happy. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I mostly make sense to me now. When I was twelve, it was mostly murky.

The bad news is, that not all that rarely, without fail, comes a time in which nothing makes sense.

There are moments in which I’m going along with my hum-drum life, surrounded by luxuries I barely notice (and probably complain about), with friends and family on speed dial, people I know who would drop anything to be there for me if I needed it. I even have the audacity to continuously ask G-d for more.

And suddenly I’m hit with the realization that I am privileged beyond belief.

And it hurts to breathe.

And I enter a battle inside my mind – is G-d good? G-d is good to me, yet so painfully unkind to an unfathomable number of people. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around how insane the lives of people who SHARE THIS EARTH WITH ME are. Torture, heinous murder, desperate poverty, at the hands of dictators, genocides, starvation, addictive drugs, violence…it never ends.

There is an endless sea of hatred and pain, and bloody waters on this earth that I call beautiful because I’m able to look at just one tree.

But…the world…is good, right?

G-d…everything He does is for the good, right?

During these moments, I feel like I am twelve again. Confused, lost, heartbroken.

I want to just put a stick in the world’s gears, make it stop moving and moving and moving, and force it to look itself in the eye. I wish I could make a noise so loud that it will stop all of humanity in its tracks and force it to recalibrate, reconsider every action it has done until now.

I want to scream.

I don’t read the news because it hurts my soul, but who is that helping?

How can I ignore the pain?

Yet how can I listen, with hands tied?

I am so small.

This world and its millions of problems are so large.

And sometimes I feel like I’m just whispering into the void without even an echo.

I’ve seen how hard it is to effect change. What kind of back-breaking, mind-splitting labor it is. There are endless critics, people sitting, doing even less than you are, telling you how useless your activities are. Change, in its essence, is not inspiring. It is dirty and difficult, it is all-nighters and tears in your pillow, it is prayer and tiny, tiny steps.

And each of us, in our entire lives, can only barely paint one stroke in this enormous masterpiece.

But what a stroke that is.

Because there are people who go through their entire lives without ever picking up the paintbrush.

12-year-old-me…I am trying.

I am not rich. I don’t have any fancy titles. I had no fancy education.

But what I do have is a heart. The same heart that made 12-year-old, and 13-year-old, and 17-year old me cry into my pillow, and the same heart that caused all kinds of tantrums, the same heart that fiercely loves her family, loves life and loves growth.

I’m trying to be grateful. To truly notice how good I have it, how lucky I am, how full of gifts my life is.

I’m trying to notice. To notice the pain on others’ faces, to try to do something to help heal them. To reach out, to do kindnesses in the small creases of my every day, in the moments between moments.

I can’t wave a magic wand, I can’t put on a cape and save the day. This world has joy and miracles painted in with evil and hatred, and that’s the way it’s always been.

I want to tell 12-year-old me that it gets better, because it did, and it does, and it continues to. But the older I get, the more pain I come across.

I don’t know where my life is headed, I don’t know what ever comes next, what each new dawn brings, but I pray that I am gifted with the opportunities to shake some foundations and bring about the change I so desperately hope to see.

Perhaps it’s time I use my words for something more valuable.

I want to have a hand in the masterpiece.

So I’m picking up my paintbrush.

For twelve-year-old me.

And the twelve-year-old in me.

 

 

27/52


Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

A Short: To Wonder

“So, which kind of soul would you like to be?”

G-d was studying the soul in front of Him as it squirmed with the heavy decision.

“I can’t decide, G-d! It’s just too hard!”

“I have an idea.”

G-d took the soul to the edge of Heaven.

“Watch these two kinds of souls on earth, see for yourself what it all means.”


The girl tossed a rock into the crashing waves.

“That rock could travel a thousand miles, get stronger and stronger, and eventually sink a boat,” the girl said.

“Well, that won’t really happen,” said the woman.

“But doesn’t it make you think?”

“The rock doesn’t mean more than what it was, dear.”

“But that would mean everything is just what it is.”

“Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“That would be heartbreaking.”

The woman shook her head.

“You, my dear, spend too much time thinking about the maybes when there’s a world of yes and no’s for you.”

“But maybes mean that there’s always something new!”

“Maybe makes you unorganized and inefficient.”

“Do you think G-d says maybe?”

“No, I don’t think G-d says maybe, because G-d knows.”

“But maybe…He doesn’t? Maybe He waits for our prayers every morning, and then decides.”

“Why do you always think you know G-d?”

“Well, I wonder about Him. I like to pray to Him.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody likes prayer.”

“No, I just said: I like prayer.”

“You pray when you need something.”

“No, I pray to get to know Him.”

“Get to know who?”

“G-d, of course, who else?”

“I feel dizzy.”

The two walk along the water, each in their thoughts, in their world.

“Do you think…” the girl begins to ask.

“Just stop – stop thinking for a moment!” the woman tugs her jacket tighter.

The girl looks across the ocean, and does all of her thinking, but just inside her head. She squeezes her lips together in a desperate attempt to stop her all of her thoughts from falling out onto the beach.

She wonders about the fish in the sea, and what they would be feeling like on a cold day like today, and she wondered what she might be like as a fish, and what kind of fish she would be, and –

“But don’t you like to wonder?!”

“No. No, I don’t like to wonder, because what is the point of wondering?”

“Does everything have to have a point?”

The woman sighed.

She kneels on the cold hard sand and looks into the girl’s eyes.

“Don’t you ever think about how much easier life would be if you didn’t have to wonder, and question, and think about everything?”

The girl shook her head “well, that doesn’t sound like any fun.”

Suddenly, the girl spied a fish, flapping and fluttering, gasping for breath on the cold sand.

“Oh! It’s dying!”

The girl ran towards the fish, the woman following behind. But by the time they reached the fish, it had given up its last breath to the cold air.

Tears fill the girl’s eyes. The woman puts a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s just a fish, dear.”

“Why does everything always end with me in tears?” cries the girl.

“One day, sweetheart, you’ll learn to let things go, to stop wondering and hoping and thinking all the time, and life will be easier. Won’t that be wonderful?”

“That’ll never happen to me,” the girl said sadly, as she wiped her tears.


“So, soul. Have you made your choice?”

G-d moved back to the table.

“Oh, yes, G-d. I have.”

“What will it be then?”

“I’d like to  wonder.”

26/52.


Featured Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

 

An Ode to NYC

Over the last few weeks, my words have been stagnant. Unavailable, I should say.

I’ve had ideas, yet their formation was distant, just slightly out of reach.
It took approximately 45 seconds on the subway for my words to come rushing back, fighting to be heard and written and that’s why I’m standing in a subway car, writing.
This city is magic.
It usually smells bad, it’s overcrowded, it’s nearly impossible to get anywhere by car, and there’s only a few days a year that the weather is pleasant enough to actually enjoy the entire experience of walking down the street.
But man, what it gives in place of all the above is pure magic.
It’s a city that never sleeps, meaning people don’t stop doing. People spend less time dreaming and more time exploring, demanding and making things happen.
Today, I overheard a woman talking about climate change and it threw me for a loop – I was shaken by how much we share this world, how much we intake all the same images and words and messages, and we all live our lives so, so similarly.
Oh man, this city is magic.
Today, the fog covered all the tops of the buildings, almost begging me to just focus on the here and now. I couldn’t see the soaring sky scrapers, I could only see the people who walked near me, on ground level.
I’m obsessed with the way that I’ve lived here for 7 years, and I know my way around, yet I’ll never stop finding new treasures, new ways, new adventures.
What could be more inspiring than sharing a city with thousands of souls, all sharing this city that has stories etched into every stone, a city in which every path is so beaten it’s already new again.
I’m in love – in love with a city that keeps giving me reasons to smile, that promises to never be boring or slow or tired. It promises to show up when I seek inspiration, when I seek different and unique and excitement.
And I know, I know one day I’ll leave this place behind, for another lover – a quieter world in which I can once again hear myself think. Expansive space in which my imaginary children can run and not get hit by cars or kidnapped by strangers. Somewhere I don’t silently curse all the way home from the supermarket, the bags not digging into my palms, because I’d be driving  and they’d be in the trunk.
But that’s tomorrow, and today is today, and the fog told me to stop trying to peek at what else is out there, what might be next, what else can I find.
Today, I still have a wealth of adventures and treasures, a world far from completely explored, new alleyways and tiny bookshops, people to observe, these busy streets are waiting for me to hurry down them, and watch, and write, and learn, and write.
Because man. This is a city of magic.

25/52.

An Ode to My Boys

The oldest grandchild in my immediate family was a boy. The most recent grandchild, born this week, is a boy.
The six grandchildren born between the two also…have been boys.

I’ve got eight nephews, and this poem is an ode to the beauty that they are in my life.

To my first one:
Tonight, as I read you a story in your bed,
My mind wandered as you leaned your almost-seven-year-old head on my shoulder.
I felt your little sighs and the little struggles on your big heart,
As you prepared to go to sleep, a big brother for the 4th time.
It was a long book, and I asked if you were ready to press pause,
And right before you said yes, you said quietly “can you just read one more page?”
And my heart split, and I read three more pages.
You have younger brothers, four of them now,
And three little cousins who live past the hay-filled farms and old American towns on the other side of this country.
There’s 8 little guys in all.
And my love, for each, continues to grow.
For the little eyes that blink awake in my arms,
And the little eyes that blink shut as I sit nearby,
And the little hands that squeeze tight,
And the tighter hugs when it’s only been a couple of days.
And the giggles, and the jokes that really make me laugh,
And the long talks about space, and the Mayor, and saving the day.
For the FaceTimes, and the naps on my lap.
For the exploration, and the trust I see in your sweet little eyes.
For the way you reach out your hands and ask to play.
For the songs we sing together, for the inside jokes we share, for the little whispered secrets.
And for the moment your hand grips mine as we walk down the street,
my heart not ready for the fact that any day now you’ll realize you’re too big for that.
And the best part about loving all of you
Is sharing you with all your aunties and uncles.
Because it means you’ll always be loved.
And you’ll never doubt
That the world has your back
And that you’re capable of everything.

To my newest one:
Last night, I sat near your oldest brother,
Waiting for his many thoughts to drift
Into peaceful slumber
And tears found my eyes.
My heart swelled at the thought
Of you: my newest boy,
Ready to join the chorus of little boy voices
And my tears fell
But they were happy tears, baby,
And they filled eyes that will watch you grow,
My heart barely containing my love for you,
And all my little boys.

 

 

24/52


Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash

Long Night

Thump, thump, thump. Thump, thump, thump.

I learned about anxiety this week.
Right now, I’m taking deep breaths to get through every sentence, because I’m not sure what’s going to be said here, and I’m also not sure this is me prioritizing properly. I’ve just discovered that an assignment I was about to submit was missing many, many requirements, and it means a few hours of work that I thought I didn’t have in my future this week. My eyes are already closing because I slept badly last night. It was one of those nights in which it feels like you’re constantly looking at your phone to see the time, and somehow time is passing but it’s also going so slowly.
I put caffeinated coffee in my cup this morning, something I don’t usually do, because I’m reckless and I drink coffee for the flavor, not for the buzz, because man, do I buzz when I drink caffeine. But I drank it, because I could barely lift my head up from my pillow this morning.
Anyway, that caffeine has long left my veins, and my eyes are shutting, and I need, need, need to work on that assignment, but I also need to write a blog post, and I’m not sure that this is what I should be doing, but here I am, with my heart going thump, thump, thump, my stomach churning a little because I’m honestly not sure this assignment is going to get a good grade anymore, and my grades are really important to me. They never were, not in high school. I didn’t really care much for grades ever, but now, when every dollar is going towards this education, I feel this unending duty to learn the material more than I have ever learned anything before, to sear it to my brain, to do really well in every class.
I’m not going to waste this opportunity.
And I guess this pit of anxiety in my stomach, that I’m ignoring with all my heart, is begging me to re-prioritize, to STOP WRITING A BLOG POST and get to work on this assignment. It’ll never go anywhere but my professors grade book, but it’s about mental health, so it’s important. It’s teaching me things that are going to help me in ten years when I’m faced with a client.
Right?
This is all worth it?
This weekly pulse racing, panic, race to the finish line as I close my laptop before Shabbat begins, hoping and praying I didn’t miss anything, that I read every line I was meant to, that I thought the right thoughts.
Being in school is a privilege, one I don’t take lightly, but it’s also so very contradictory to what my real life is. I’ve been teaching writing for three years, and to be totally honest, I’ve been doing that by trial and error. I’ve made mistakes while teaching and those are some of my worst moments. But I always learn from them, and I get back up stronger, and those lessons become a part of me, and I rarely make the same mistake twice.
School makes me slow it all down in a different way. It asks me to think more, to prepare in a way that I’ve never prepared for anything in my life so that I don’t make mistakes. And it’s hard. I’d much rather learn by experience, to jump into the deep end, and somehow come out kicking. But for my specific line of work, that isn’t a possibility, and to be able to heal other peoples hearts, I need to be as prepared, and educated, as I possibly could be.
So I know, that’s why I’m here, that’s why my heart is thump, thump, thumping, because I’ve never cared more about school than I do right now. And although I know I’ll complete the assignments before the weekend is up, because I always do, it doesn’t calm my nerves. In fact, I’m pretty sure all that nervous energy is what brings me to the finish line, each and every week.
And now, just like that, I’ve written a blog post.
It’s not all that great, but for this week, we’re going to suffice with just okay, because I’ve got a whole lot more words to write tonight before I call it quits.
23/52.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Fear, Potential, and Everything Else

Two days ago, a friend and I sat shoulder to shoulder on a pier looking out from Brooklyn, facing the Manhattan skyline.

It was night, so it was dark, but the air was balmy and it felt more like mid-summer than mid-September. It was quiet, but not empty. The jangling sound of dog’s leashes and the low murmur of conversation across the pier could be heard consistently. And the skyline, well, coming straight out of the skyline were two lights shining, dramatic against the dark sky, reaching up and up, reflecting on the clouds above it.

I don’t remember 9/11.

Something about that unsettles me a lot. I was here, but I wasn’t. I was alive, on earth, probably playing with dolls or something similarly inconsequential, while the largest terrorist attack occurred on U.S ground.

As an adult living in New York now, every year at 9/11, I go through the same emotions.

Horror, shock, and in a weird twisted way – guilt, because I feel horrible that it’s taken me this long to understand the gravity of that day.

Yesterday, I found myself reading things about 9/11 – particularly transcribed phone calls and voicemails left for family members of those who lost their lives on Flights 11 and 175. I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t stop reading, as nausea grew inside me, as my mind was literally begging me to stop.

When I was a kid, for some reason we had a VHS in our home of a documentary about 9/11. It was graphic and detailed and scary, and my mom had kindly asked of my older siblings that it not be shown to the younger kids. I don’t know if I begged, or if my older brother was actually out to traumatize me, but I have clear memories of watching that VHS over and over in our basement, terrified beyond words. That is where my 9/11 memories begin, at 7 and 8 years old.

“Don’t worry, Dad, if we go down, it’ll happen quickly.”

Those words were said from a son on a plane, to a Dad on the ground, over a voicemail*.

When I read that, my heart exploded in anger. I suddenly wanted to punch G-d in the face. I wanted to yell and scream, and at that moment, I had no clue.

I had no clue how we all just kept walking around in a world that is so clearly so deeply flawed and messed up, I had no clue how anyone could ever bring more children into this planet.

I couldn’t believe that it took me 22 years to reach that point of absolute disgust.

And for ten minutes, I sat seething, and I wrote words like this:

“What exactly is the point?

Some days are overflowing with meaning and purpose and you can see it all written across the sky. You can smell it in the air – it’s called beauty and growth.

Some days are just dry. They’re regret-filled, and maybe tear filled, or maybe just tired. They’re hard to get through, and they feel hopeless and pointless.”

And then I stopped writing, because I didn’t even feel like putting words in the world. Which is why I’m writing the rest of this this today.

I don’t have any answers, not a one.

I know that when I sat on that pier, in the dark night, I saw what I thought were two low-flying planes right over the skyline. My stomach clenched and I said “what the heck are those planes doing?”

And my friend showed me that they were helicopters. And I remembered me that helicopters fly around the city every single day, and we had already seen a whole bunch of them.

I was comforted for a moment, before I realized that one day, not all that long ago, for real, people looked up and wondered “what the heck is that plane doing?” and in the next moment, everything was lost.

It was just a normal September day.

I was watching the recordings of the live CNN coverage from that day, and I was blown away by the way that the anchors continuously discussed the first plane crash as a horrific accident, a horrible mistake.

We live in a world today that a horrific mistake would be assumed to be a form of terrorism, and that makes my stomach sick.

I live in a world that my stomach clenches in fear all too often. I spend solo subway trips examining every face, trying to find the one who would be willing to murder us. I look at the world with fear cloaked glasses, and it’s not just because I’m paranoid, it’s because thousands of people in this country, in the last 18 years, have woken up assuming today was going to be normal, and never saw the end of that day.

And I’m learning that to get through life on this planet, you have to ride out the fear, ride out the pain, and hold on to the days that make life feel like potential and goodness can’t be contained.

Because something else that happened this week is that I began teaching creative writing and debate, and I met a whole bunch of teenagers that made me smile for the future.

And that is what this life is about.

Big ideas, and growth, and kindness.

And the real question is, why did I feel like I had to write about this this week, when I actually spent a good amount of my week in a space of happiness?

So, I share this post, because evil and pain are intertwined with our lives, and not allowing ourselves to feel that pain is a disservice to ourselves and an injustice to those who have been lost.

But I pray for this for you, and for all of us: for days that are overflowing with meaning and purpose, when you can see it all written across the sky. You can smell it in the air – it’s called beauty and growth.

 

*I don’t know if these transcribed messages are verified and true, but even if they are not, the emotions and meaning are 100% representative of the truth.


22/52.

Featured photo by me.

 

Trying

Today, I was walking down the hectic Brooklyn streets that I live in, and from a distance, I saw a woman walking towards me, with a baseball cap and a loose shirt and it all happened in a flash –

I thought “oh, that’s Hindi.”
And in the next millisecond, I realized that was impossible because Hindi passed away a year ago. It was just a stranger, someone who on closer inspection didn’t actually look anything like her.
But the entire moment, that only lasted less than a second, kicked me in the stomach.
It was a moment in which I wondered how often that happens to Hindi’s best friends, to her husband, and her siblings and parents, to her kids.
How often do they hear her footsteps, her voice, see the flash of her hair, only to have to relive the loss all over again?
I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to pretend that I knew Hindi well. I didn’t.
We didn’t cross paths much, we were ten years apart, I lived in New Hampshire until she got married. We never had the opportunity to share more than a few Shabbat meals and family gatherings.
And as a result, I didn’t lose her presence in my life. I didn’t lose her wise counsel because I never sought it. I didn’t lose her humor because I didn’t laugh with her all too often.
What I lost, and what I now sit with for the rest of my days, is simply potential. All the could have been’s. The wonder why.
There are some people in the world who you don’t have much in common with, and therefore, you don’t necessarily need to befriend them, whether or not they’re related to you. It’s not possible to be close to everyone in your world.
But there are people like Hindi, whom I admired, yet held myself back from. I was intimidated. She was accomplished. She had triplets and a Ph.D. for heaven’s sake. She was a powerhouse. She was blunt and she was honest.
I enjoyed her company when I shared it, but I never thought we would be close because she was so much more than I imagined I was.
She was so much, and now she’s gone.
When I think about it, all I want to do is stop thinking about it. I don’t want the hurt to settle in because when it does, it really hurts. When I think about my aunt, or my cousins, the ones who have this enormous gaping hole in the middle of their living room, a hole that doesn’t allow for you to not fall in, it’s hard to breathe when I think about that kind of pain.
It makes me want to grab everyone I love and put them all in a box and never let them leave and just keep them alive forever and ever so I can just look at them when I want to.
And then I remember that that’s not what life is. And life is lived intertwined with loss.
And that absolutely sucks, and it’s absolutely unfair.
The honest truth is that losing Hindi made me think about a lot of things in life. It made me think about the fact that there are people right now in the world that are still around that I should try harder with.
So I did, but so many of those situations brought me to dead ends, and I realized that the solution to loss was not to just throw around love. It wasn’t going to help to befriend people I don’t have much in common with just because I regretted not being closer with someone I should have invested in a relationship with.
Perhaps a more appropriate response is to strengthen my bonds with the people that I already have in my circle. To be more genuine when I’m too afraid to be. To be blunter when I’m being too careful. To work harder when I’m too tired. To truly be there for the people that count on me most.
Or perhaps nothing. Perhaps there is nothing one can do when there is a loss this large, perhaps all one can do is cry in the shower at the horrific unfairness of it all, and let it crack your heart wide open.
I was recently asked by someone how I reconcile my religious lifestyle with all the horrible things that happen in the world. How do I believe in a G-d that doesn’t stop the pain?
My answer was simple:
The pain is going to be there no matter what, whether I believe in G-d or not. Believing all of it is random and pointless is a death wish – I’d crumble if I thought that. By believing there is a G-d, I am saying that I don’t know what the meaning behind anything is, but I do believe there is meaning. And that belief alone keeps me afloat.
So, yes, I believe there is meaning in everything.
But I refuse to even search for what that meaning might be because there is no answer my earthly mind could comprehend. So I sit, and I cry, and then I try.
I cry, because this world is a scary place to call home.
I try because I want each of my days to count. I try because none of us know how much time we have. I try because I want to be the best version of myself for the people in my life for as long as I get to be here.
I try because Hindi did, and if I’ve learned anything from her, it’s to do more than anyone expects you can.


21/52.

The Things I’ve Seen

I’ve been MIA on this blog for a few weeks.

It doesn’t really matter if anyone else noticed, it was a weight on my mind that got heavier with each week that passed without a blog post.
I like the me that is able to get a blog post out every week. That is a productive me, an eye on the prize me, a sticking to the commitment me – the me that I always believed would be a writer.
Alas, the last few weeks (five, to be specific), have been busy in a different way. I’ve been on the west coast twice, with full-length flights between each visit, I’ve spent time at the pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, I finished a summer term of college just barely submitting my last assignment on time, I’ve been laughing until I’ve cried, taken more pictures than I really ever have, I met my brand new nephew and created the sweetest memories that I’m now packing away for safekeeping.
And I’ve written about 25 blog posts that I hated.
Nothing has felt right.
I felt a little like good writing requires devotion that I don’t have, and that I’ve been relying on the seat of my pants for years, and I’ve been swimming in the sea of kind words, forgetting that writing requires serious work, and I can’t just hope words are waiting around when I’m ready to find them.
I have to present myself every day, and write, every word.
And as I prepare to teach creative writing for the third year, I need to give my writing a new promise of commitment, of showing up, of giving it what it deserves so that it returns pieces to me that I’m proud of.
The last few weeks have been busy, in the best ways, and I’ve discovered G-d hidden between cracks, in his every creation, and sometimes sitting in the wide open.
Like in the bluest water I’ve ever laid eyes on, in the mountains near Vancouver, and in the tiny blue eyes of my newest nephew as he lay in my arms, his entire being trusting me to care for him and love him.
That’s when He was revealed.
But I also saw Him in the eyes of homeless people on the streets of Seattle, as I found myself inching away from them, feeling horribly guilty but genuinely afraid, I closed my eyes and I reminded myself that we came from the same cloth, life just took us two very different directions.
And I wondered why G-d gave some an easy, happy life, while He gave others countless challenges that left them begging for food in a city that didn’t want them.
But I saw that we are each G-ds creations and that there is no way to measure anyone’s worthiness, because all I saw was the effect of life circumstances, nothing more. I could not see their souls, I could not see where they were in the pathways of life.
I saw G-d’s handiwork in the people, all the people that I came across, in the flight attendant who was dealing with boyfriend troubles, in her friend who grumbled “men, am I right?”, in the little family that sat next to me, their small baby playing peek-a-boo with me, in my nephew that played peek-a-boo with me through a phone, his infectious grin making my heart leap, in the mom at the airport who just wanted her daughter to have a challenge-less life as she demanded to speak to the airline manager, in her daughter who inched away, red with embarrassment, in the TSA employee smiling widely with a hidden joke as each passenger went through security, in my Uber driver who is just trying to make it in LA as a makeup artist who talked me through my tears as I left my three little nephews after living in their home for three weeks. Because I hate goodbyes, always.
I’ve had endless reminders of just how much we all have in common.
I’ve seen G-d’s beautiful wonders, as if He looked at the world thoughtfully, pulled out His paintbrush and painted breathtaking landscapes just for our enjoyment.
I think He did it because He knew we’d build cities that blocked our view of the sky and the sea, and we’d forget that the whole world is not contained within a couple of blocks, piling our frustrations and anger up and up and up until we found ourselves at a sea that’s more beautiful than we realized it could be. He put those there for us.
And I realized I seem to write about the same things, over and over and over, I’m drawn back to the same themes and the same ideas.
Maybe rather than hating that, it’s time I embrace it, and see where it takes me.
By giving me words, G-d asked me to create, to add to His glorious world, to connect to others using a most powerful tool.
I don’t know why words float through my head and onto a paper, I don’t know why they sometimes flow and sometimes don’t, I don’t know why I write poems in my mind in the shower only to have them flutter away as I pick up a pen.
But dreams are a procrastinators life-source, so now, I say: I am a writer.
20/52.

Photo was taken by Chanchie Krinsky, in Porteau Cove Park.

Bare Feet

What is it about an airport,

that everyone’s soul shines through?

I see it through the little holes in their socks,

and their bare feet at security.

Who doesn’t think to wear socks on airport day?

I see it through their sweet voices,

explaining to their five-year-old,

why must we go through this security line –

“to check if anyone has snakes or spiders in their bags, dear”

I can see a world in which that is why we must all bare our feet

for TSA to peek through our shoes

and find our secrets.

I can see the soul in the woman whom I’m begging

to switch my middle seat to an aisle seat,

I see her long day, her long future,

I’m tired, but so is she, and I am not the first, nor the last, to beg her for something that is not in her control.

I see the soul in the man who sits beside me,

who talks about the old days

when corporate airlines didn’t charge for hot meals

and headphones.

I smile at him and I reach out to buy some headphones because I’m not doing this middle seat flight solo. 

What is it about airports?

They say airports are a no-mans-land, no country can claim it, and perhaps that’s what it is.

None of us are home, yet none of us are lost, we are all in between the beginning and end of a journey.

And we’re in our socks.

For some of us, it’s bare feet.

And we all hope there are no snakes in someone else’s bag.

 

 

19/52.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash