life

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.
break

Blog Post 51/52.

Featured Photo by rawpixel  via Unsplash

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

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

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

Finding the Flavor

It heals me.

Long before the first taste touches my lips, cooking gives me life.
One of my favorite things to do when I cook is to study the available ingredients and construct a new flavor, a new dish, something a little bit familiar and a little bit surprising.
As the pots boil and the pans sizzle, I feel my muscles relax, the tension release.
Cooking takes me away from my stresses in a similar way that music does. It encompasses me.
Cooking and I have had a tumultuous relationship. While I’ve always been very interested in it, I haven’t always been so good at it. Always chasing flavor, I tend to oversalt, which is a practice I’ve mostly stopped, but occasionally it’ll come back to haunt me.
But that’s my life in general. Always chasing flavor – which occasionally comes back to bite me. Always wanting more out of life, always wanting brighter colors, experiences that are meaningful and full of depth. Sometimes, wanting so much from life makes parts of life harder.
Cooking is one of my favorite things, but cooking for others takes it to a whole new level. Watching people I love enjoy the food, watching their energy levels climb back up is the ultimate reward. Not everyone loves cooking, but I know very few people who don’t love eating, and being able to be part of bringing them that simple happiness is a treasure I hold dear.
I’m no chef. I don’t know much about exotic dishes, my ingredients tend to be simple and cheap.
But my goal with every dish, whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner is that the flavor is rich. A simple scrambled egg, while comforting to many, is disappointing to me. When a dish, no matter what I try, comes out tasting a little empty, I feel like I didn’t do it justice.
Because every day is an opportunity for things to be better than they were yesterday. Settling for decent, settling for good when you could have incredible or delicious is not in my capabilities.
And I know that this part of me affects others. It makes me a little bit more stressed perhaps. Often, I’m told by others that perhaps I’m shooting a little too high.
But this is me. This is who I am, and I’m obviously not just talking about in the kitchen.
My love for cooking and for flavor-rich foods blends into every area of my life. I love potential. I love finding potential in things and doing my best to bring it to its fruition. Life, people, food, everything can be so complex, so detailed.
There are times in life that I need to just chill out, times I like taking a step back, breathing, not trying so hard.
But no matter what, I go to sleep happiest on the days I don’t need to compromise on the flavor.
Blog Post: 32/52

Featured Photo by Helena Yankovska on Unsplash