life

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.

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.

 

Mornin’

It’s been loud for weeks.

Loud externally, loud internally.
I haven’t allowed myself to stop, to just think.
And breathe.
There are always things to do, or people around, distractions from the whisper inside that was getting louder and louder, calling out:
Just stop!
This morning, for whatever reason, I decided to take ten minutes outside to drink my coffee. Rather than pairing my coffee with typing, or working, or talking, I took myself outside and sat in the early morning air.
I didn’t always love mornings. I used to consider myself a night owl, but a few years ago, my friend encouraged me to get up early with her and work out. It was then that I realized how life-infusing the mornings are. There’s something about the air, and the quiet, and the fact that everyone else is still sleeping.
So, although I wake up each day at 6:15, today I chose to take ten minutes of my usually tightly scheduled morning to sit outside.
And I began to breathe.
And my soul used the first oxygen it’s seen in weeks to release a slew of feelings, rising to the surface.
Sometimes, it feels like life is happening to me. Sometimes it’s so busy, you just have to let it happen to you. There isn’t time to grab on to each horn, to fully envelop yourself in every experience, happy or sad.
Summer is often this way.
The sunny days blend together in one constant chaos of laughter, exhaustion, swimming, working hard, and sweating it all out.
This morning, when I took that deep breath, I felt it all slow down a little.
It was a breezy 68 degrees, a reminder of early fall, the world was open and clean, and it felt good.
And at that moment, I remembered something I haven’t given much thought to recently.
This world is inherently good.
Its goodness gets blurred through our tears, covered in the dirt we rub off of our shoes and drifts away as we fall asleep after another long day.
But, that goodness is there.
And it’s most easy to find in that early glow of a summer morning before the sun beats down on my neck, and the noise levels reach a crescendo again, inside, and out.
And today, I held those ten minutes dear, as I absorbed their emptiness, and in that sense, their absolute preciousness.
And I sipped my coffee. And I texted my friend:
“Thank you for teaching me about mornings.”
18/52

Hold On

Time.

The tick, tick, tick of the clock, the passing pages of the calendar, the “what? it’s June again?”
As a small kid, time was endless. Days were long, weeks were even longer, and when I was waiting for something, it almost seemed as if the minute hand on the clock had frozen.
I guess as years go by, time picks up speed. All of a sudden, you’re constantly looking backward, trying to find the days that slipped through the cracks, that flew past you as you were tying your shoe, or taking a breath, or blinking.
As a (very) young adult, I’ve been caught by surprise by how time has picked up its pace, bringing new seasons faster and faster.
What?
It’s June again?
Just last year, I was packing my things, ready to leave the city for the summer, looking forward to the laid-back New Hampshire life, but knowing I’d be missing the anything-can-happen-at-any-moment lifestyle I’ve come to love in NYC.
Here I am, again, with the very same feelings and the very same thoughts. I already feel the sand slipping through the hour-glass, as June speeds ahead, knowing that the very first day of September will be here before I can possibly swim enough, laugh enough, travel enough, study enough. I’ll be starting another year of college, that much closer to a goal that I was so far from this time last year.
Time runs, and the best thing you can do is put things in your life because time will pass no matter what, whether you’re doing nothing or whether you’re doing everything.
Time. Speeds. By.
It feels bewildering and startling, frustrating and exhilarating.
Because when will I be suddenly finding myself living the life I’m striving for, looking back fondly at the days that I spent dreaming?
Will I realize that I’m living it, or will I always be seeking more?
How does one remind themselves on the bad days that time goes by, and as it does, it heals the tiny wounds and the large wounds and brings new gifts and surprises?
The story of life is always consistently being written, there’s no such thing as pausing, or putting your foot on the brakes, or holding up your hands to yell stop, even when it’s all you want to do.
Time often brings us to roadblocks that loom large, cracks in the road we aren’t sure we can leap over, it’s speed sometimes causes us to trip over our own feet.
But time also brings us to shores we never intended to see, unearths spectacular gifts we never knew we had, swoops us up in its arms when we most need to fly the coop and flies us towards a brighter future.
Time.
It is June again.

Next June will be here before I know it, and I’ll be marveling again, and all I pray is that come each June, I have the joy of marveling at how much beauty, how much good, how much growth traveled the days with me.

14/52.


Photo by Adrien King on Unsplash

A Shoulder To Lean On

A few months ago, I wrote this article, inspired by a tree (see the linked article for an image of the tree) my father saw on a family friend’s extensive, gorgeous property. His house is edged up on a lake, surrounded by acres and acres and acres of trees, wooden cabins, wildlife, natural creeks, and old beaten paths. Nature at its best. But one tree stands out. A short hike from our friend’s house stands a tree, that our friend introduced my father to months ago. He photographed it to send to me, as inspiration for my writing. The trees long trunk is lying on the ground, as dead trees often do, but it’s trunk then takes a wild turn upwards, growing towards the sky. I took one lesson then, about anti-Semitism, and the ability to get back up when everyone else believes you’re at death’s door.
Today, home for the week of Passover, I went with my brothers and father to see the tree for myself. As I laid my eyes on it, as we stood around it and took in its grandeur, I learned another lesson from this tree.
You see, this tree is huge and old, and strong. It beat the odds, it is impressive and beautiful, and even still has buds on its highest branches. But as it soars to the sky, it leans against another tree right next to it, inching past it in height, but clearly reliant on the other trees strength for survival.
I’m studying psychology and counseling at the moment, with a goal to one-day practice as a therapist, g-d willing. Each day, I learn more about the intricacies of the human brain, the fragility of it, and the impossible tenacity of the human spirit. We, as humans, can endure incredible pain, and still come through. It’s true.
As we climb through a crisis, beaten and bruised, we come through stronger, somehow. We fold back into our lives with more wisdom, more depth, more beauty. It’s easy to credit ourselves, and it’s easy to believe we can do it, all on our own.
Because we can.
But do we have to?
When I study psychology, about the various disorders, about the ups and downs of the human experience, I ache with the desire to have all the knowledge already. I just want to know how to help, how to have the answers, how to be there for people and be able to guide them through their life.
Today, as I looked at the tree, I realized that I am training to be that tree. That supporting tree, the tree that is simply there to help another tree stand. I realized that I, myself, have quite a few trees just like that, supporting me.
And I realized that it doesn’t make the tree less impressive, needing to lean on its friend, it only makes the scene that much more moving, that much more impressive, to see one tree standing strong, helping another tree soar.
How often, as humans, do we just want to be able to take care of ourselves? How often do we resist leaning on others for support, at the risk that we will look weak, or tired, or incapable?
As a future therapist, I hope that I can be the strongest supporting tree possible. That every client that walks through my doors can lean on me, and soar.
And I can learn to look at my support around me, and recognize them for what they are. We all need each other, and we all can be the support that someone else needs to climb a little higher.
That tree would die without its friend. As impressive as it is, it needs support to thrive.
Humans aren’t all that different.
So if you have a working shoulder, stretch it out for someone to lean on.
And if you’re a little tired, and your shoulders are drooping, I’ve got a shoulder that I’m willing to share, and I think you’d be surprised to discover how many shoulders are surrounding you, waiting and ready to share the load.
So far, this tree, this incredible, beautiful, stoic tree has taught me a lot. In the words of our friend, who stood there with us: “You can learn a whole lot from trees.”
It’s true. Oh, is it true.

7/52

(P.S: Due to the busy week prior to Passover, and the start of Passover, I did miss a week of writing! The good news is, I got to spend the time with my family, who are all home for the holiday, and they’re some of the strongest shoulders I’ve got.)

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

Chasing Happy

Not too long ago, I was catching up with someone I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

As I finished bringing her up to speed about where I was in my life these days, she remarked: “You sound so happy.”

The statement startled me.

While attempting to attain happiness was no strange concept to me, someone letting me know that I was happy was a little unsettling.

After a moment or two of silence, I looked back at her, and while grasping it in my mind at the same time, I replied:

“I…am. I am happy. Thank G-d.”

I’ve been thinking about this non-incident ever since.

Am I happy?

What is happiness, really?

This is a concept I’ve grappled with in my mind for probably as long as I’ve been able to grasp that happiness was more than getting the lollipop I wanted (don’t worry, I still get confused.)

My life has been filled with ups and downs, learning and disillusion, mistakes and triumphs, as I walked my slow but steady path towards where I was headed. For a long time, I was very confused about where I was headed, career-wise. I tried all kinds of different things.

Friends and family laughed as I made self-deprecating jokes about being a quitter, about conveniently leaving jobs just in time for summer break, about how I’m a millennial who is just lazy and wants to do nothing and get paid for it.

But really, what was happening is that I tried new jobs to find a depth of happiness, and time and time again, my job was doing the opposite of bringing me happiness – it was dragging me down, silencing my creativity or leaving me completely unfulfilled.

Am I happy?

I certainly do not always feel happy. There are days that I wake up tired, stressed and anxious. Lack of sleep, an awkward interaction, missing a good meal, having too much or too little of a social life – all of these things seem to impact my day-to-day happiness on a much larger scale than anything else I’m doing with my life.

There are bad weeks and good weeks, there are painful experiences and joyful experiences, and these are all extremely intertwined on a daily basis.

There are days that I want to hurl heavy, hurtful things at G-d, stomp my feet and yell as loud as I possibly can, because I’m just so mad at Him.

Do all of these things mean that I am not happy?

I’ve often allowed myself to believe that.

When I’ve woken up in a bad mood, I have allowed that bad mood to control my day, because I was obviously just not happy. Why try to fight something that is not in my control? I’m not happy, why try to be?

Once, during a conversation with a close friend about happiness, sadness and all that comes in between, I mentioned something of that nature. I said, “I don’t feel like I control my moods, it all depends on how I wake up.”

She laughed, startling me, and refused to accept that that was the truth.

I took her laughter as a challenge, and the next time I woke up in a bad mood, I did all I could in my power to fight it, and transform that mood.

I succeeded.

The next time I woke up in a bad mood, I tried it again, with the memory of my prior success giving me confidence.

I failed.

Because there is no absolute path to happiness.

Because I’m learning that happiness does not mean that we don’t cry, that we don’t have bad days, that we don’t fight or say stupid things. Happiness does not mean that we have everything we could need or want, that everything is working in our favor, or that the sun is shining brightly.

True happiness is so much deeper, and I’ve finally begun to really understand that.

I want to say that true happiness comes from having a job you love, or being surrounded by people who love you, but these are privileged things to say. These are things that bring me happiness, but are often not possible for others to achieve, for various reasons. I have barely yet lived my life, and I am not foolish to think that I have dealt with life’s most painful challenges, and maintained my happiness through them. I have experienced pain, but in no way that compares to the level of pain that others have, thank G-d. So I feel cruel to claim that I have the key to happiness, because I most certainly do not. But, I will share the one thing that I have discovered that has brought me happiness, that I hope all can have as well.

It is an awareness that I try to sharpen every, single, day of my life:

I am not the most important person in my world.

Are you laughing? Maybe you’re saying “are you kidding, you absolute child? Obviously you aren’t, you spoiled, privileged, little girl.”

Did you say that? If yes, that’s okay. I get it. It seems like an incredibly simple concept that literally everyone should be aware of.

Yet, it is the single most powerful contributor to my happiness.

I am not the most important person in my world.

How does that practically make a mark on my happiness?

It reminds me that my job on earth is to give.

I have been given skills, gifts, and opportunities that are for me to use to make this world a better place.

It has allowed me to build a strong relationship with my G-d, even when I want to hurt Him with all my might. It has allowed my ego to step aside, even for just a few minutes each day, and recognize that it’s not about me. This world is so much bigger than I am, and it is filled with incredible, unique individuals, and I am a part of the tapestry. I have an important role to fill, and nobody else can replace me – but my contribution to this world is much more valuable than my happiness.

You may say that is the path to negative thoughts of oneself, but I’ve found it to be quite the contrary – it has made me value myself in a whole new way and keeps my perspective on how I can give, rather than in which ways I can take.

And I am happy.

Are there things that I really, really want?

Are there things that I believe I need, and that I don’t have?

Are there moments in which I collapse from the pain that life brings?

Are there nights and days that I wonder about my future, afraid?

The answer to all of these is a resounding yes.

Yet, I am grateful to G-d that He has allowed me to feel happiness in my core.

Like everything good, happiness too, comes from good old-fashioned hard work, quite conflicting with the path to happiness that we are often fed in modern day media.

Perhaps, to be happy is our generations greatest struggle.

But is it achievable?

Yes. Without a doubt: yes, it is.

 

 

Disclaimer:

This entire piece was written with the idea that what is stopping someone from attaining happiness are mindsets that they have control over. If you are struggling with depression or severe anxiety, please seek the assistance of a trained therapist or speak to your doctor. Speak to someone, reach out, and ask for help. Happiness is achievable for you too.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741, or call the suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255

You don’t have to do this alone.

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Featured Photo by Nathan Dumlao 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.
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