thoughts

What is Beauty to Me?

In a world of beauty,
and a world
of ugly,
what
is
beauty
to me?
oooo
A heart ripped open
beating
pulsing
a heart worn
on one’s sleeve:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A plate filled
with warm flavors,
warm laughter,
a moment
together:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A handwritten letter,
a smeared edge,
thought
put into
each word:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A small face streaked
with leftover
dinner
sticky hands
a bright smile:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
The sound of the sea,
the silence,
and roar,
the stars above:
that is beauty
to me.
oooo
A tear on a face,
a whisper
of love,
a look
that says everything:
that is beauty
to me.

Blog Post: 38/52.

Featured Photo by STIL on Unsplash

When Life Happens

I have never written a blog post on the verge of the week ending like this. I’ve gotten close, but never this close.

But no worries – I’m a commitment freak, and I won’t let this go by, because then I’d probably have to start from Week 1 again, and none of us want that.
I’ve almost completed my first year of teaching creative writing. That’s really crazy to me, because it was about this time last year that I got the crazy idea in the first place. And now I have a group of students who I have gotten to know, students I look forward to seeing and reading their writing. Because all of them are tremendously talented writers and thinkers and it was a pleasure and honor to be able to be a part of their year.
I know the year is not yet over, we still have a few weeks to wind down. But I’m in an introspective, reflective mood, and I’m just so proud to be here.
Doing things that scare me are not my thing. I don’t like roller coasters, horror movies or skydiving. I don’t enjoy the thrill of the fear that so many people seem to be obsessed with. Existential questions are scary enough.
So doing something that scared me on so many levels was a big deal.
My life this school year has seen change. It’s seen growth. It’s seen me with shorter hair and a stronger heart conquering more challenges. Experiencing new things. Facing myself in ways I never really wanted to have to.
Life is ever evolving, which is something pretty terrifying for someone like me, someone who likes to be in control and to be sure of what comes next.
Life throws things at you that you could never have planned for. But these are the things that really test you, the things that make you pull out all of yourself, to figure it out, to face it. To understand who you are, what your limitations are, and where life goes from here, now taking the fork in the road into account.
As summer nears, and the promise of warm sun and healthy days approach, I find myself wondering what is around the corner. What is next for me? What happens when I allow life to happen, rather than overplanning each moment?
It’s scary. To me, this is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. To admit that I don’t know what comes next, to know that life takes time to unfold, and to have patience. To have the patience to see what G-d has in store.
And perhaps I’ll discover that my mind has been limited all this time, and what G-d has planned is even greater than what my small mind can conjure.
Blog Post: 31/52.

Featured Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

I Have No Words.

Sometimes,
Writing is an escape,
A place to feel at home.
Sometimes,
Writing is a way to build,
Stories and poems,
Worlds that may not exist.
Sometimes,
Writing is communication,
A way to express
What is clogging my heart.
Sometimes –
Writing can take a moment,
A deep breath,
A bit of time off.
Writing can step back,
Have to be woken from its slumber,
When I must write.
But this week
I’ve been living,
Reading,
Loving.
Sometimes…
I don’t need words.
And words don’t need me.
But I made a promise.
52 weeks.
Whether words and I
Are together
Or taking a break.
So here.
Here are my words.
Sometimes,
it’s important to live
To be able to have
What to write.
Sometimes
Words must sit inside my heart
Before I can allow them to live
On paper.

 

Blog Post: 29/52

Featured Photo by Jelleke Vantoogeghm via Unsplash.

This year, I pray for G-d.

Dear G-d,

5,778 years ago You gently handcrafted each being, each blade of grass, each solitary piece of sand.
I know time means nothing for You. For You, space is as wide as it is small. I know that You have The Master Plan. But surely, even You could not have foreseen it getting…this bad.
Everywhere I look, there is destruction – if not of physical buildings than of people, families, values.
Those who are desperately desiring peace cannot get through to the protesters, the protesters cannot understand why there are people who seem to be passively allowing the world to crumble around them.
There is so much pain, so much hatred, so much of the ability for us to forgive has been lost.
Costs of basic necessities have skyrocketed, religions are mocked and looked down upon. The rushing oceans are thick with pieces of our lives we forget to be grateful for, beautiful animals are becoming extinct. The world quakes in fear of the next disaster, the next time mankind will strike out against their own.
Hurricanes ravage small islands, earthquakes split the very land we walk on.
It’s as if even the depths of the earth are crying out “enough! Enough!”
Our nation seems to be in shreds, never before so divided, never before so wary of each other.
It is a terrifying world to grow up in.
Yet when I shared this sentiment with a friend, who can always be relied on to see the glass half full, she shook her head.
She disagreed.
She said, “Look how far we’ve come!”
She said, “We have been dealt many unfair cards, yet we persevere as a people.”
G-d, this Rosh Hashonah, greeting You in synagogue will be an exhausted people. Your children are broken. Many have lost loved ones. Many have lost homes. Many are battling wars in their bodies and in their minds.
All are searching. All are searching for You.
You, G-d, who 5,778 years ago, handcrafted each one of us.
You, G-d, who lovingly wrote each word of The Master Plan.
Look upon us G-d, and see Your people. See how we still stand before you. See how we have not let the ravaging waters steal our faith, even when there was every reason to let go.
G-d, You came to us, You were in the fields. Have you not wept each day? Have You not tenderly looked at us, moved by our convictions, touched by our dedication?
As You leave the field, pockets filled with tear-stained prayers, as You climb upon your throne again, allow Yourself to be rid of whatever is holding You back.
Look down upon the earth You promised to never destroy, and stay true to that promise.
We are the people who You so desired.
We have given our all, we have scratched the bottom of the barrel.
We are here, G-d.
And doesn’t that just say enough?
With deep prayers for a better tomorrow,
Sincerely,
Yours.
Blog Post: 2/52

Featured Image: Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash

The People

Living in NY without a car, spending time on the subway is not a rare occurrence. No matter what, no matter how many times I’ve been on one, the subway is a surreal experience.
It’s a social experiment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with nobody recording the results.
The experiment: squeeze as many people as you can into a small space, speed them through a hollow cavity in a world of concrete, and deliver them to their destinations. See what happens between each stop.
The doors open, the doors close. A blind man appears at the door at a stop, his cane swinging, “what number train is this?” He repeats it until in unison, the passengers seem to all suddenly hear him and respond “the three!”
The door closes.
A woman, strong boned and straight-faced, an orange hard hat on her back, suddenly catches sight of a friend across the car and soon they are giggling like school girls.
A woman, who could be assumed to be a social worker, or maybe a teacher, sits scribbling notes on a yellow notepad. Her shoes are practical, her socks warm, but her hair looks recently done.
A woman sits next to her, a ponytail pulled back, eyeing the scribbles on the notepad the way we all study those alongside us, perhaps bored, perhaps reminiscing of a former job, or hoping for a future one. Perhaps the handwriting reminds her of someone she loves.
A small boy, fresh-faced and friendly, too new to the world to be afraid of it, waves and smiles at the passengers around him, pulling smiles from even the most exhausted.
A fidget spinner suddenly falls from a teenage boy’s hands, an older businessman sees it and turns to his friend “I must remember to buy that for my kid.”
An object that suddenly reminds me where I am, the harsh sound of it hitting the subway floor, the amusing realization that everyone around me knows what it is and that we all know someone who owns it.
That tiny toy that will be a memory in a week brought me closer in a moment to all the people in that rocketing metal room than anything else did before.
I looked at them all, really looked at them, at the old woman rolling her rosary beads between her fingers, muttering a prayer, at the hipster grinning at his phone, at the tired eyed couple who made each other smile, at the homeless woman with yellow socks, dirty from the universes she had traveled, and I realized that all of their journeys had brought them to the same place mine had. Each of them had been put on earth for a reason, and each of them were just as precious as the next.
The subway ads are calling to us, telling us what books we need to read and which food to order for dinner.  The poetry on the wall prods my mind to think poetically, the people are all so real, the train is so full of people living.
A subway car is a hub of humanity, a place where nobody speaks to each other but everyone sees each other. We move over a seat, stand up to allow a more worthy person to sit, doors open, doors close, the crowd changes. We all avoid eye contact but when we open our eyes to see, that day’s social experiment is complete.

Past, Present, Future: What?

I saw my 9th grade dorm roommate today. It wasn’t anything special- I see her all the time. We live on the same block. We never really talk. We do The Wave. Not the wave wave, but the City Wave. Those three fingers, waved back and forth really quickly, which implies “Hi, I acknowledge you, but we aren’t going to talk.”

It’s normal. Happens every single day with so many people.
But today I was walking alone and in that moment of “the wave,” I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of being in the past and the future at the same time.
It was the closest I’ll ever get to time travel this year.
This girl was my roommate five years ago. Five years ago, I was 13, and I was terrified.
If anything was my past, and the past that I grew most from, it was that past.
If there was anything I wanted in that past, it was my future.
Now I am living that 13 year old’s future.
My old roommate made me travel back to that young girls mind and fears. She had hopes and dreams, and could not wait to grow up.
I grew up since then.
I’ve been living so much into the future, that I forgot I am living somebody’s future already. My future. Right now.
That kid I was five years ago is my past. When I was her, I didn’t feel like time was moving anywhere, and now she is my past.
Is this what it means when it says G-d does not exist within the restrictions of time?
We are all continuously living a life of future and past, and we never stop to realize it.
Right now, I am living the past of future me. 30 year old me will remember 18 year old me, and realize that she is living the future Etti, but also the past Etti.
My brain feels so stretched, because it is so hard to focus on where I am now. I am my past. I am my future. I am both at the same time, but right now I need to be doing things so that I can look back into my past, and so that I can look into my future.
If I keep living focused on the future, I’ll lose my past. What is a future without a past, anyway? What am I building off of? An unbalanced foundation that is full of hope, but lacks of concrete action?
That 13 year old me deserves a future that is not focused on the future.
I owe it to her to be the 18 year old I wanted me to be.
I’m not good with details. That’s why the future always looks so much more enticing- there are no details there. It’s vague. I don’t actually know where I’ll be.
The present is full of details. It has minutes and seconds in it, and it takes so long.
It’s so much easier to focus on the future, to live in the future.
But it’s also dangerous.
But, every time I think about that poor thirteen year old Me who is having her future wasted because eighteen year old me just can’t wait to be five years older…that makes me frustrated with myself.
Live in the moment. I have to live life for what I have now. Then I’ll have a past. I’ll always have a future.
Seeing my roommate made me remember a past that I wasn’t happy in. In that past, I would have given anything to be in this future.
I’m here now. I owe it to me to live in the present.