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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.

 

 

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Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

A Short: A Girl Named Blue.

There once was a girl named Blue.

Blue was just another human on earth, another passerby between here and there.
But Blue felt like anything but a passerby.
Blue felt…well, Blue felt everything.
That was the problem.
Blue felt too much.
Life and Blue were synonymous – the pains, the joys, it all passed through Blue like a vicious wind, causing hurricanes and tornadoes inside.
Blue loved the city. The thing about the city that Blue loved was that you couldn’t escape the sheer life of it all. The people were everywhere, their lives spilled across the pavements, their laughter reaching to 30th-floor apartments, their arguments reaching higher.
Blue liked it. Life was meant to be lived, and this was her way of living. Eyes wide open, pen at the ready, soaking up all that happened around her. The beauty in the pain, the pain in the beauty – it couldn’t be ignored.
But Blue often found herself being told things that didn’t sit right.
People would say “don’t let it get to you” or “get over it” or “you can’t fix things for everyone.”
And when Blue heard these words, she heard so much more.
She heard “why can’t you just be more like everyone else?”
But Blue didn’t want to.
See, the thing is, Blue loved the way she heard every song with a deeper note, saw every sunset with richer colors, and the way she knew there was potential in a universe that so many deemed destined for destruction.
But Blue also bruised more easily – hence, her name. She hurt easily. Pain found it’s way to her heart and sat there, comfortable in its familiar surroundings.
When others hurt, she hurt. She couldn’t help it. It was how she was made.
As everyone around her carried on, eyes dry and self-assured, Blue looked at her wounds and wondered why she wasn’t more like everyone else.
So she tried.
She tried to swallow it all.
She tried to ignore the rushing winds, the broken sidewalks, the vulnerabilities that called to her from everyone who walked past.
She bandaged her wounds and wore the right clothing that protected her.
She could be like others. She could care less. She could be less affected and infected by the life around her.
So she lived. Eyes shut, heart closed, she lived like the rest of the universe. She didn’t let the pain in. The joy couldn’t seem to find her either, but at least the pain wasn’t there.
But one day, her armor cracked.
And life began to sneak back in.
And the tears began to spill.
And Blues heart felt heavy.
And she noticed her arms and her legs and her soul begin to look blue once more.
And Blue broke.
Blue was angry. Angry with herself. Angry that she always seemed to be hurting. Angry that she couldn’t just live like others seem to.
Blue walked, and walked, and walked. She tried to walk off the way she felt so different than everyone around her. She tried to walk off the way that life grabbed onto her and didn’t let go.
As she walked, she saw a construction worker, tired and heavy from a hard days work lean over and hand a napkin to a child eating a cookie.
As she walked, she saw men. She saw women. She saw children.
All living.
She saw pain.
But she saw joy.
She heard laughter, smelled warm, soul-lifting food, saw the young being kind to the old, the old being kind to the young – and she knew.
Blue knew it was worth having the bruises. Blue knew it was worth having some days that the world punched her in the gut.
Because Blue knew that every wound had a story, every bruise made her stronger, every hurt propelled her forward. Blue began to realize that when she was no longer afraid of the bruises, those bruises made her braver.
She learned that being Blue was not something that happened to her, but something that was a result of her being her. Rather than running from being Blue, she began to embrace the Blue in everything around her. She realized that the people who loved her most, loved her as Blue.
And life for Blue began to look different.
Blue knew that life would always be more for her than it was for others, but she also knew she was entirely grateful for that.

She was entirely grateful that she was Blue.


Featured Photo by 秋白 on Unsplash

The Road Between

There is so much that I want from life.

Recently though, I’ve boiled down my prayers to be pretty specific:

If there is one thing I do right in this lifetime, may it be my family.

My prayers don’t end there, certainly not – but each time I turn to G-d I let Him know that that is the key aspect of my prayers. That if He’s unable to grant me anything else I ask for, He still gift me with that.

If nothing else pans out, allow me to still be capable of a loving marriage and raising my children the way I hope.

. . .

I am a spiritual person.

Rosh Hashonah is a very spiritual holiday. Even as a kid, I would look forward to the familiar tunes and prayers said only on Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. That excitement has not faded and has only strengthened through a deeper understanding of what the holidays represent.

Over this Rosh Hashonah, I was deeply connected and focused.

I was rudely awakened yesterday as assignment due dates and to do lists came back into focus, and I was reminded that I am not a spiritual being, I am actually so very human.

Our days are made up of so much, our world is made up of even more, and there is no end to the opportunities and challenges that arise each day.

In the end, our joys and our pains are oh so physical, not so much spiritual.

Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur are nice – and more than that, they are truly truly important.

But they are the spiritual half of our journey, and in a way, the much easier part.

I didn’t forget I was human on Rosh Hashonah – I prayed for all the parts that are human in me. But somehow, on Rosh Hashonah, being human was easier.

And yesterday, as I emerged from the cocoon of prayer and spirituality, it was a startling wake-up call to what being human really is about.

Because our life is not made up of enormous life-changing events, like the ones we pray for.

Our life is not made up of graduating college, getting the dream job, getting married, or having children.

It’s made up of all the tiny things in between, the tiny things that are easy to forget about when you’ve got your eyes on the big picture.

But when you face life, those tiny things are exactly what it is.
I prayed for the big things, because they are easier to pinpoint.

Today, I pray for the small things.

As I transition back into my world, suited up with spirituality, I pray that the small things go right. That our lives are filled with the small things that count.
I pray that the big things are so great that I get to appreciate and notice the tiny things.

. . .

At the end of the day, my prayer still stands – if I do anything right in this lifetime, may it be my family.

Yet I mean that in a thousand ways, as it filters down to real life.

All the roads that lead towards it – may they be brightly lit. May all the roads we take in life be brightly lit and filled with joy.

Because it is the road we’re on that that counts. The destinations are important, but it’s the rest stops that make it better. The music we choose, the snacks we eat, the people we put in our passenger seats.

It’s those tiny things that make up life that make life worth living.

And I look forward to G-d granting me these prayers. That ahead of me, I have a life filled with sticky fingers, dirty kitchens, late night deadlines, busy work days, hugs and kisses, aching laughter, days in swimming pools, and a heart filled to capacity.

On Rosh Hashonah, we pray.

And on Yom Kippur, may it be sealed.
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Blog Post 51/52.

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