pain

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.

 

Powerless.

Powerless.

That is how I feel as I whisper psalms.
Hands tied behind my back,
As I beg G-d to chill, the, freak, out.
Exhausted.
That is how I feel in my every bone,
Heavy with the weight of the tears
That refuse to come out.
I’m aching; aching; aching.
My stomach is in knots,
Where will the next fracture in our earth occur?
Who will be the next to break?
How do we live in a world so filled to the brim with pain?
I pray; I pray; I pray.
17/52.

They Won’t Win

Today, there are tears. There is desperation, fear, frustration.
How many times can this happen to us?
Over the last couple of days, I was reading the book Man’s Search For Meaning. Viktor Frankl’s famous book in which he details his theories, further developed by his horrific experience in the Holocaust; his key focus is that when one believes their suffering has meaning, they can survive it. It’s when one feels hopeless, when one sees no meaning in their pain, that they collapse in the grief and everything ends.
This theory resonates deeply with the teachings of Chassidus, a school of thought, a way of life, that has been intertwined in mine forever. What I’ve learned, and believe so deeply, is that every single thing has meaning and purpose – even a leaf falling from a tree. How much more so, the greatest triumphs and tragedies in our life.
Yet, as I look at the images of Lori Kaye, the heroic woman who lost her life, it seems so cruel to even think these words. What kind of meaning can be found in the loss of a woman so full of life? What kind of purpose is there in the death of a mother and wife, a vibrant community member, a living, breathing human being?
I feel helpless in the wake of tragedy. My words feel useless, my conversations about nothing feel wasteful and my conversations about tragedy leave me aching. I’m tired, and I’m aching to be proactive.
What can we do?
As I opened my prayer book this morning, I read the very first words I read every morning “I hereby take upon myself [the mitzvah] “love your fellow as yourself.”
After taking every practical measure we can take to put our physical defenses up against inevitable hate and violence, what else can we do?
We can only love.
How often do we judge, tear down, blame, look down upon others for even the smallest of actions? How quickly do we assume we know someone’s entire self when we observe them for only a tiny part of their entire life?
We mutter under our breaths, we avoid people in supermarket aisles, we whine when we have to spend time with some.
We scroll through our social media feeds, mocking and laughing, tearing people apart when they can’t even defend themselves – perhaps that is worst of all.
Can we commit to perfection?
I think not.
For me to stand here, on this mournful day, and promise I’ll never think ill of another person based on large or small reasons is laughable and impossible.
But can I try?
Can I work at it, each day, just a little?
Can I keep my eyes focused forward, can I raise my voice in protest when those around me slip into negativity? Can I try to see the slightest positivity in an otherwise poor scenario?
Yes.
I can try.
And I will.
Because that – that is all I can do.
And perhaps, all of our collective trying, will inspire more and more doing, because in numbers comes great hate, but in numbers could come great beauty, and light, and joy.
And G-d knows we can use all of it we can get.
May the soul of Lori Kaye be lifted to the highest heights, and may all those who are suffering today find meaning in their pain.
Not today, but one day.
But until we get there, let us do what we still have the power to do – add more love.
I’m angry that we live in a world in which hate still has so much power – but I also believe we underestimate the power of love.
It’s easy to hate. It’s often harder to love. The harder the task, the sweeter the results. Hate is cowardly, love is brave.
G-d is hearing from me today because as I sit and chat with my 2-year-old nephew, I don’t want to think about him having to grow up in a dark world.
G-d is hearing from me today because I don’t want to keep having conversations about how we can better secure our synagogue, our home, our events that are quite literally held to spread the light of Judaism.
G-d is hearing from me today because I don’t want to have to one day look my children in the eye, and somehow explain, and calm, and console the pain that comes from realizing the world is a scary place.
G-d is hearing from me today because a woman is being buried before she lived out her life, because she was forced to die, because she represented light, and she came face to face with evil, and it seems like evil keeps winning.
G-d is hearing from me today.
But I was put on this earth to give back to this world, and you bet I’m going to do my best to only give it light.
Throughout our history, they’ve come for us, they’ve hurt us, they took our loved ones, kicked us in the dirt, and laughed in our faces.
But you know who always won?
It was us.
Dirt streaked, tear-filled, weary and tattered, the Jewish nation has always come through the other side, raising a hand in victory.
And we’ll do it again.
Bearing our torches. Shining our light, try as they do to envelop us in darkness. We’ve got a spirit that can be broken and trodden upon, but it can’t be put out.
They’ve tried before.
But they don’t know what we know:
Evil will never claim victory, not in the end.

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.

2/52.


Featured Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I Don’t Know

Yesterday, traveling beneath New York City on the subway lines, I found myself surveying every person around me.

Had they heard? Did they know? Did they care? Could I trust them? Should I trust them?

Are they friends, or are they foes? Would they hate me for my Jewish faith? Would they stand by if someone tried to hurt me? Would they protest my death while watching it? Would they send thoughts and prayers?

Would they save me?

When something as tremendously horrifying as the murders in Pittsburgh happens, you’re forced to reconsider everything and everyone around you.

If I called out “who here loves all people?” how many hands would raise, confident and proud?

If I called out “who here loves the Jewish people?” how many hands would raise?

Would my words echo?

Worse – would my words be swallowed by a silence deeper than I could bear?

I’ve been coddled by this belief that this couldn’t happen here, not in America, not in a safe town like Pittsburgh, not here.

It happened here.

I watched, bewildered, as so many found their words so quickly, almost as the news was being spread, simultaneously were the answers, the blame, the hate.

I felt bowled over, pushed against a wall, as a stream of answers were being pushed my way –

“This is why!”

There is no why.

Is there a why?

If there is a why, then all I’ve ever been taught is a lie.

We always search for the why, but what I’ve learned is that there never is an answer to the why, and that is what makes us human.

Knowing there are no answers.

Not trying to find the answers.

How can we even try?

How can we organize pain as a question and an answer?

How can we possibly give an answer?

For me, there are no answers – there is only disbelief, only heartbreak, only wishes from so deep inside that it won’t ever happen again.

But there are questions, endless questions, for everyone, from G-d, to the smallest children on the street.

G-d, why do you allow evil in this world? How much light can be born from hate?

Child, how can we change this world for you? How can we purify it enough so that you don’t collapse from the pollution of our pain?

As I hear parents beg for help – “how do we speak to our children?” I wonder if the children need to be spoken to.

Children deserve to be coddled and protected from our world’s most awful truths, but more than that, children know the truth already.

How do we speak to our children?

Perhaps, rather than pulling them to grow up into our chaotic world, allow us to learn from them. Look into their eyes and see the innocence there – remember, remember what it means to be a child, to not know that such pain exists, to not expect it of the world around us, to not grasp for the answers but to allow ourselves to sit down and cry. To cry, ceaselessly and without shame, at the utter unfairness of it.

And then to pick ourselves back up, to make friends with those around us, to make the world simple again – love leads to love.

I’m not a parent, and in moments like these I am grateful that the only eyes I have to meet are mine in the mirror. I don’t have to crouch down to look into a heartbroken face, a child shattered by what they’ve overheard, having the moment in which their world goes from perfection to fractured.

And maybe I’m all wrong. Maybe nothing about this is simple. Maybe nothing about this is simply about that fact that 11 worlds have just been completely shattered because of their Jewish faith.  Maybe it’s not just about the fact that there are people out there who hate me for my faith and will stop at nothing to destroy. Maybe this is about politics, or guns, or protests and rallies. I don’t know. That’s the truth.

And that is why I hesitated to write words at all.

What use are words?

I’m no political scientist, or social commentator.

Maybe one day, I’ll add those qualifications to my resume, but for now, I am just one voice.

One voice, who grasps for words every time I feel the earth shake beneath my feet.

These are my words, and I’m sharing them with you in a desperate moment of trying to connect, to find a place we can meet, in a place that we can throw up our hands, cry out at the unfairness of it, and say, maybe, we just don’t know.

 

 


Photo by Jarl Schmidt on Unsplash

When Everything Broke

While I was uttering the words of Psalms, heartfelt prayers in my heart and on my lips far away from home on a sunny morning in France, the one thought I knew deep in my mind was “G-d wouldn’t.”
I knew, so solidly, that everything would be okay. That Hindi would come back from this. That soon our family would be discussing the huge miracle that occurred.
I knew it.
And then in one sickening moment, everything broke.
I didn’t believe the words I was reading. For hours afterward I waited for someone to say it was a mistake. That it wasn’t true. That everything wasn’t destroyed.
I consistently and constantly use words to express myself, but this time there weren’t any. Like being socked in the stomach, I couldn’t breathe, let alone write or speak. Only silence felt suitable in the wake of such an immense tragedy.
And so, I was silent.
For the first time all year, I missed writing a weekly blog post.
Every other time, I couldn’t justify breaking my commitment, I couldn’t allow myself to let a week go by without forcing myself to write something.
But when G-d kicks you in the gut, nothing matters anymore.
There were no words. I didn’t want to create words. I didn’t want to be a part of this tragedy, I didn’t want to raise my voice, I didn’t want to hear my words echo in such a cruel world.
And as I sit here, writing with tears in my eyes, wearing a dress and heels I’m trying on for a friends wedding I’ll be at next week, reality makes less sense to me than it ever has.
G-d took a mother from her children. A wife from her husband. A daughter, a sister, an aunt from her family, a teacher from her students.
Someone whom I’ve always, always admired.
In a world of false realities, Hindi was real.
She didn’t know how to work social media, she was all about honesty and truth.
The meals I shared with her and her family at her parent’s house I always remember so fondly, even before this horrible tragedy. She was quick to include me in conversation, ask me honest questions and listen, oh so well.
In a world of distraction, Hindi was here.
In a world of easy ways out, Hindi worked so hard to achieve her dreams.
Her babies are now left to grow up without her – how? They are surrounded by so much support and love, but nothing on earth can replace a mother.
As I take my next steps in life, I wish I could have spoken to her sooner about how to do it all. How to have the family and the career, how to maneuver the education system, how to bring positive change to the world, how to raise children to be open-minded and intuitive. But I missed my chance. I missed my chance to tell her how much I’ve admired her. I missed my chance to ask all my questions.
A part of me is broken, and always will be.
These things don’t go away. There will always be hard-hitting reminders about this new ugly reality we live in.
And for a long time, there will be so many moments that it feels like there is no air to breathe.
G-d knows what He did. Somewhere deep inside me, I believe His tears are mixed with ours. As I cry into my pillow, furious with Him, I desperately pray that He knows enough is enough.
(more…)

We Can Change

When a human
with a beating heart
and a crying soul
is falling apart,
We need change.
When a human
with tired eyes
and scarred arms
wants to die,
We need change. 
When their tears are dry
and their heart is hard,
When they’ve locked doors
and pulled up their guard,
We need change.
When their bellies ache,
but the ache is deep,
When they scream for help
but the world still sleeps,
We need change.

When the world awakens
and listens close,
When our eyes pull open
and see the hearts that broke,
We can change.
When we stretch out arms,
and give our ear,
When we ask questions
without feeling fear,
We can change.
When all have beating hearts,
and all can be whole,
When all have rested eyes
and a hopeful soul,
We’ll have changed.
When gates are opened,
and locked doors have a key,
When cries are heard,
and forests catch the tree,
We’ll have changed.
When blind eyes are opened,
and arms are thrown open wide,
When judging is shameful,
and love doesn’t hide…
We’ll have changed.
But until then, my friend,
We’ve got work to do,
so nobody can say
“If I only knew.”

Blog Post: 34/52.


Featured Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

The Pain of Growth

Growing pains.

That’s always what they were. As a kid, I’d come to complain to my mom about yet another aching part of my body, and the reason was always growing pains.
It gave the pain some purpose, a sense of pride. I was in the process of growing, becoming older, getting taller.
Eventually, we all stop growing physically, our measurements coming to a slow halt, leaving us at relatively the same size as our 16-17 year old selves.
The growing pains ebb away, and I imagine the reminder of them comes as our own children turn to us and ask us about their own pain.
Growing pains.
So easily explained, so easily understood, so excusable for the hurt we feel.
But as we reach milestones, turn corners, and fall over as we awkwardly grow into emotional adults, the growing pains are so much more unclear.
They feel more like failure.
As we grip our aching soul, the pain seems to have no purpose, for the growth is hard to see.
This week, it is my birthday. I say that not to get a slew of birthday gifts (although welcome,) I say it to clarify why growth is something I’m really focusing on this week.
For what is growth?
Do birthdays mark growth?
Do I look back at the past year, and measure myself? Using what as the yardstick? Amassed funds? Amassed friends? Sweet memories?
What proves that I have grown between last years cake and this years?
To me, it’s all about the growing pains.
Because I have had them.
And while I was aching, there were times I persevered, believing in the purpose of the pain. But there were times I surrendered to the pain, eyes shut, hands up, and let it overtake me.
This year I expanded horizons, worked harder, re-focused, trampled my comfort zone.
I have also cried in the shower, eaten too much sugar, given up, and allowed my self-made limits to box me in.
I’m tempted, on my birthday, to ask G-d to wipe the world clean of challenges, of obstacles, of struggles.
But I fear that I would be asking Him to remove the color, to silence the joy.
I prefer to ask him to allow us to see the purpose of the pain.
To allow us to look in the mirror and smile through the ache, because we know that through our pain, we are painting the world with vibrant colors.
Without struggle, without challenge, there is no depth of joy, there are no intricacies of beauty.
I ask Him to wipe the world clean of endless grief, of grief so deep that the beauty is too deeply hidden to be asked to reveal itself.
But I ask Him to continue to challenge us, challenge us with pushing past our limits. Challenge us with obstacles we can see over, obstacles we know we can overcome.
Allow the growing pains to have a purpose, allow the pain to be only a roadblock, not the end of the road.
Because without growth, we fail, and without growing pains, we don’t notice the growth.
May my growing pains paint the picture of my future, strengthening my foundation, allowing me to build up and up and up.
Even joyous occasions come with growing pains  – adjusting to married life, a new baby, a brand new home, a new career. But these are the growing pains we can handle, these are the growing pains that make us better. That give our world more color, make life richer, that give life more purpose.
And so as I welcome a new year of my life, I look back at my growth. And I mark my growth by the pain. Not by how many days I felt defeated, but by how many days I felt euphoric, having overcome the challenge that had held me back.
And I ask G-d that He give me more of that strength, more of the ability to jump the hurdles, to push through the pain for the most epic of results:
Glorious, colorful, invigorating, beautiful growth.

Blog Post: 25/52

What Do I Know?

There are things I know
and so much I don’t.
I don’t know
why people kill people
or if we should have guns
I don’t know
how humans survive
the human condition.
I don’t know
why illness is prevalent
why hate is so strong
why people suffer.

I do know
that I believe in a G-d.
that there is a higher power,
I have heard Him say yes,
and I have heard Him say no.

I know that I want my children to
grow up with that knowledge,
for it makes one humble.

I know that we are more
powerful
and more
powerless
than we believe.
I know that humans are only people.
There are humans that are more learned,
more skilled,
more educated.
None of them have more power.
None of them can prove
that my G-d does not exist.

I don’t know
what tomorrow will bring
I do know
what yesterday gave
I don’t know
what I don’t know
and each day
I learn
That I know
Almost
Nothing
At
All.
Blog Post: 23/52

Featured Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Can I Become The Enemy?

I’m twelve years old.
I start a list.
Whenever an adult wrongs me in any way, I write it down.
That way, when I begin the terrifying transformation from child to adult, I will never wrong children in the same way.
I keep that list updated through the years.
As a kid, my enemy is adults. As much as I want to be one, I’m sure that they are all screwed up.

.

I’m fourteen years old.
I’m a full-blown teenager.

I cry – so much. I spend my nights in my high school dorm scribbling in my diary, poetry, anger filled paragraphs. The lack of space is stifling me.
I’m so lonely, searching for someone who has a mind that is like mine.
The adults in my life that should be my role models are telling me I’m not trying hard enough.
“The only thing I want in life is to be 18,” I write, tears hitting my pillow one late night.
Because adults are not told that they don’t know what’s right, adults aren’t told that they are not good enough.
.

I’m fifteen years old.
I don’t want to be an adult.

Ever.
Adults are broken, hurt, distrustful. Adults think they’re better, smarter, more clever. They’re just overgrown teenagers with more power.
My grandmother is sick, and everything is scary. None of the adults are telling me what is going on.
“Screw everyone,” I write.

.


I’m sixteen years old.
I’m a counselor in a day camp. Two little girls that are my campers are fighting angrily about something. Something so deeply stupid, I can’t even stand it.
I separate them.
They cry.
I look at them with disbelief. “Kids are so ridiculous,” I think to myself as I turn away from them.
I don’t know where my diary is.

.


I’m eighteen years old. 
I still want to be older. Eighteen is not old enough. There are still so many people who don’t believe in me. Who don’t believe in the youth.
I write on my brand new blog: “Why do I have to spend my life waiting for someone to take me seriously?”
.


Today.
I no longer count the days until adulthood, because I am starting to realize that nobody is an adult. But as I walk into my classroom, as I walk through a park, as I babysit my nephews, I realize I am the adult in each of these situations.

As I cuddle with my nephew to tell him a story, he shows sensitivity and wisdom far beyond his years.
As I listen to my students speak, see their hurt and feel their frustration, I am reminded of the days that I sat at their desks. The anger I felt at those who felt like they had any sort of authority over me.
Real anger. Justified anger.
As I sit at a teachers meeting, I look around in disbelief, the feeling of having snuck into somewhere I don’t belong is overpowering.
I am a child. These are adults. These are the enemies I spent my life fighting against.
How did I become one of them?
As I enforce rules I know are important, my heart breaks, knowing that I am the adult. I am the adult that does not need to explain her actions, who should be spoken to respectfully, who can not cry and show her own weaknesses lest it lead to that respect fading away.
I am torn.
I still feel like the child I was, yet time and experience is forcing me into a role I never thought I’d take on.
Adulthood.
I begin to recognize where children err. I understand that teenagers often make bad choices.
Yet.
I can’t commit, I can’t cross that bridge. I read the list that I began writing when I was twelve years old, and I am reminded. I am reminded that the pain and anger of a child are no less important or real than that of an adult.
I am reminded of the time I told someone that I was having a bad day
when I was a teenager.
The response I received was “How can you be having a bad day when you don’t have to pay taxes, worry about finances, or go to work?”
I am growing older.
I’m never going to be an adult.
My heart carries the child I once was, the teenager I just was, the person I am becoming  – and I’ll never let all these parts go.
I will keep looking at my diary, remembering those nights, that pain – I don’t want to be the adult who makes others feel that way.
Sometimes, it won’t be my choice.
Sometimes, you’ll have to follow someone else’s rules. You’ll have to take extreme measures to educate.
But I won’t be the enemy.
In High School I wrote a letter to the future me.
I wrote
“You might think you’re high and mighty, Future Me, just because you
are older.  But your past is important, almost as important as your future.”
As each day passes, I age just a little bit.
I hope I gain wisdom, experience, and responsibility each and every day.
But even more deeply than that, I hope that I never let the child in me down.
Because every voice is important. Every tear-soaked night is okay.
Every soul deserves to know how valuable it is.
Every heart deserves to know that it doesn’t have to wait.
There is no better time to be who you need to be.
Adulthood will come. But when it does, it won’t change anything.
The power is in the youth.
Don’t waste today.
Blog Post: 16/52
Featured Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash