Monday, November 30, 2009

The Price For Meaning

“Are we rich, Ta?” I remember asking my father as a little girl. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, a great big smile leaking across his lips. “Sure,” he said. My eyes grew wide.

“…in nachas".

My face fell.

If he would tell me that now, my eyes would light up like a million candles on Xmas eve. But it wasn't now; it was then. And then, “nachas” had the appeal equivalent to a mushy banana.

The truth was we weren’t rich. Not in any sense of the word. But mistake me not, I was spoiled. In every sense of that word.

I grew up with a privilege. One most children aren’t lucky enough to have. Born to parents, most children aren’t lucky enough to be born to. There wasn’t a question they couldn’t answer. Not a thing they wouldn’t do. They were the heroes of my community. They changed people’s lives. Did I notice it then? Barely. Sure, I opened the door to hundreds of desperate faces, hungry souls, and when we escorted them out, they left different people.

But did I realize who’d changed them? Never.

I always wondered, though. Wondered about these people. Why they came. What did we have that they didn’t? What possessed these doctors, these lawyers, and business executives to come sit in a tent on our porch in the dead of October?

They’d gather around our table with talk of “meaning” on their lips. And go on about the lengths they’d gone to find it. I’d shiver in my skin and wonder what could possibly be so thrilling about a journey that landed them on our claustrophobic deck in below freezing weather. But they’d continue to speak, as if wind or snow couldn't stop them. They spoke with such excitement. Such enthusiasm. Electricity.

“Meaning,” I’d muse; the amateur cynic. “Is it a person?… A drug?… A place?”

“Meaning”, they told me, was not a person, or a drug. But a place.

“Show me.” I challenged.

But they couldn’t. So they didn’t. All they did was point to the left side of their chests and say, “‘Meaning’ is not a tangible place. Not a place you go to, rather a place you find.”

I laughed.

A mistake, perhaps, since I could already begin to see sparks of, oh I don’t know, envy combined with horror, crawling in their eyes. They were stunned. Astonished by my wild disregard. Here they were, killing themselves, turning over their very lives just to obtain something I already had and was throwing away. Why, they couldn’t at all understand, did I not appreciate the things they fought so hard to find?


Several few weeks ago I found myself in the Old City of Jerusalem, absolutely awestruck by the holiness, when a bunch of children ran past me. “Can you imagine growing up here?” I marveled, jealous almost. “These kids don’t even realize how lucky they are…”

As soon as those words left my lips, I regretted them.

I am them. The kid who grew up in the Old City. Skinned her knees on cobblestones and never noticed the magnitude of it. The girl who was born on a mountain, oblivious to the climb one must endure to get there. So, here, now, I'd been given a chance to see a glimpse through the eyes I watched for so many years. The eyes I saw get wider and wider and with time more astonished and bewildered. The questions that filled those eyes, without them even uttering a word. How can you not appreciate blatant holiness? How can you not see G-d when He’s staring you in the face? This time I saw it, if only for a moment. This time I got to discover what I once considered trite and feigned. But this time it was different. Because this time it was “meaning”. Just like it was for them.

I realize now, it wasn’t that I resented “truth” or “meaning“ or whatever it was that made these people so crazy; it was that I never got the opportunity to know it. To appreciate it by my own will. It wasn’t that I mocked their journey; it was that I envied it. All I ever really wanted was the chance to make my way of life something I chose rather than going along for the ride of something that had chosen me.

And all through my quest I found something: You won’t meet “truth” at a social, you can’t buy it off a thug on the street and no matter which train you take you’ll never just arrive at destination “meaning”. And truth be told, Truth could be raining all around you, in your bedroom, in your coffee, in your hair, but if you don’t reach out, pick it up and internalize it, it means little, if anything at all.

You have to search for it. Under your bed, in your heart and in your soul. You have to want to find it. No matter the cost. You have to earn it. And then earn it again. And again.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Psalms Scream

I fear not my flaws. I fear not my end of days.
It’s of my incredible strength, that I am most afraid.

I’m in love with my angels. With my evils and foes.
Could I fall head over heels with the person they created. I think so.

But it’s also something else. My heart soars. My Psalms scream.
It’s not the things that bind me to this earth; it’s my ability to dream.

I fear not my flaws. I fear not my end of days.
It’s of my incredible strength, that I am most afraid.

Some have greatness inborn, for some it’s fate.
But it’s of my belief, that we are all great.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

If Today Was Your Last Day

“Live each day like it would be your last.” Nickelback had it right. They all did. And if someone would’ve told me today was my last, I might have done things a tad differently.

First off, I’d probably have gone to Mrs. K’s class, I’d probably have finished the ice cream in my freezer, made my bed, and told my family and friends I loved them.

If someone told me, today was my last day, I’d do it all. I’d go skydiving. Write my last poem. And dance in the street. I’d try on every dress in my closet. Wear the most outrageous, over-the-top hat. And paint a rainbow on my face.

I’d say I was sorry for all the things I’ve done and forgive all the people who wronged me. I’d trip an Arab. And ninja kick Obama. I’d eat a five star dinner and order everything on the menu. I’d drive a motorcycle, ride a rollercoaster and swim with Dolphins. I’d do everything I’ve always wanted to do and all the things I was too scared to want…And I’d probably whisper a prayer or two.

I guess that’s the difference between what I think I would do and what I should do.

Would I like to skydive? Sure. But when it comes down to it, when I truly think about the last breaths I want to take, am I jumping from a plane, in 27 dresses and a big furry hat? Will it really matter what my last poem was about, or that I got to confront my emotional fears? Are there fashion police in Heaven? Will I be met by poetry critics and psychologists? Will anyone care that I dared to drive a motorcycle or that I could dance in public? Will I remember the thrill of riding The Superman? Will the taste of chocolate soufflé linger on my tongue? Will any of it matter in the world to come?

What does it really mean to live like you’re dying?

It means, differentiating between the temporary and the eternal. The fleeting and the everlasting. It means, holding on to the things that matter and letting go of the things that don’t have enough substance to carry on into the next world. To really live life like it’s your last day, means giving up the transience of the material world, to revel in the G-dliness found only in the physical world we call, “home”.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crazy To Believe

They say it’s over. They've turned out the lights and drunk themselves to bed.
They say she’s crazy to believe. That she should anticipate the end instead.

She doesn’t. It’s wild. In her heart. She still believes.
She still holds the lifeless hand of her friend who’s still asleep.

They say the lives that were taken, were just a casualty of war.
They turn tears to dust, turning their faces from the horror.

He lives in a war zone, his bravery is written in the creases on his face.
His windows bare witness, to the demons he’s chased away.

They say redemption is absurd, they claim we’ve been forsaken.
They call themselves indifferent, when deep inside they’re aching.

They are aching. Aren’t they. Don’t they ache for something real.
Don’t their words feel cold, even for people who don't feel.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Screw You Hippies

You know how people warn you before you go places? Like especially before Israel.

“Don’t go to Crack Square.”

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Don’t hitch with Arabs.”

“I’ll kill you if you become a hippie.”

The tone kind of shifts at the last one.

The thing about floaty-ness is that no one buys it. No one believes you actually feel God the way you think you do. No one thinks that even if u do, a shower-strike is the thing to take you higher. No one likes people who trip on God.


Because we don’t believe you. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that we think you’re a liar. Because liars lie.

If you claim you feel G-d, don’t, because we don’t believe you, we can’t imagine what its like, so we don’t think it’s true. And if it is, we envy you. That’s why we don’t like you.

Also. Take a shower.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Little Thing Called Divine Providence

It's nearly two years since Elana's accident...and she's still in a coma. Not a day goes by that her name doesn't go through my mind, or rush down my spine. I miss you, Elana.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If G-d Had Eyes

In memory of the heroes who stared G-d straight in the eye.

If G-d had eyes.
What would He see.
Would He see goodness in blood.
Or darkness like me.

If G-d had lips.
Would He cry with His sons.
If His daughters could see Him.
Would He let His tears come.

If G-d had a head.
Would He hang it in shame.
Would He regret what He’s done.
Or would He call it a game.

If G-d had ears.
I’d give voice to my angst.
Even my silence would scream.
And the Heavens would shake.

If G-d had a face.
I’d do nothing but glare.
If truth spilled from evil.
I’d believe He was there.

If G-d has a heart.
Let it be aching.
If thousands have shook.
Trust His is breaking.