I Am The Theme

I Am The Theme

Saturday, December 30, 2006

burnt out



"You have a burnt out look in your eyes" he said. He said the words with laughter in his eyes and a light tone. He said it as a joke yet it was exactly how I felt: burnt out. The accuracy of the statement froze me for a moment. With no response and a cold chill spreading over my body I have nothing to do but stare. I mumbled something and asked him to repeat the question. My interviewer looked to the side as if trying to avoid the emptiness he saw on my face. It looked like he was hoping to find some answers on the peeling white paint of the office walls. For me, any answers would do- even if they did not dissolve my questions. Just an answer or two would be nice. He spoke clearly, as if he already had all the answers, "Where are you holding?"

I was still unclear on what this meant. Still unsure what aspect of me he was trying to focus in on. But I spoke anyway. It was my turn. In this game of applications and patent leather shoes you must move your piece across the game board every time the cycle lands on you. There are no skips, no last minute thoughts, no room for doubts. Appear confident, appear strong. You are allowed to be unsure on the inside, but G-d help you if you show it.

Again his words echoed in my head: "Burnt out."How did that happen? How did I fall into the trap of appearances? This world designed with thick black lines that push you into a corner and surround you. Like a corset, they contract you until you are as small as you can become. Breathing is unnecessary, you need only to fit into the beautiful gown they have sewn for you. You never doubt the beauty of the gown. You agreed to wear this painful corset because they said it was the only way you would ever fit. But somewhere along the way you do start to wonder why they couldn't have just made it a bigger size.

"Burnt out." Out of air as I try to lace up the corset. Without realizing, I have let them slip the heavy fabric over my chest. They have only begun to tighten the ribbons laced through the back and already I cannot breath.

"Burnt out." Out of hope as I realized somewhere deep inside of me that I will never fit into that dress. I think I have known from the start. But the silk and the lace of the gown caught my eye. The though that without the corset I would never have it made my heart shake with fear.

For eight days I lit the candles on my menorah. Each night I added another flame. Each flame given with love and thanks to my Creator. The flames have finally come together inside of me to re-light my life. Not burnt out anymore.

Where am I holding? Right now I am at the beginning, at the start of creating my own gown. Because, after everything, I have learned that I can sew my own. I am starting to take my measurements, sketch out the design, and to gather materials.

I do not attempt to create this gown on my own. There are some measurements I have not learned how to take and some materials I do not know where to find. So I will find others who can teach me. It will take a long time, the rest of my life, but it will be beautiful in the end.

Meanwhile, I will wear it proudly as the simple gown it is. Formed as close to HaShem as I can presently comprehend. Plain, but beautifully cut, it is who I am.

Down the back there are two ribbons laced through the fabric. The only part of the corset I have kept, the only beautiful thing to be found on that suffocating mechanism.

I have begun to embellish my dress with all the beautiful things I have ever know. Everyone I have ever loved has left their mark, but there is still room for so many more.

A gown is not beautiful if you cannot breath. A life is nothing if you do not live it. And the most simple dress can represent so much more than the glittering folds of fakeness.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PEACE

Every day there is something else. Every moment it seems that our world falls lower. A fight, a war, a threat. Always something. Between enemies, between friends, and between brothers. The thin lines that separate my world from theirs are now barely visible. I try to uncover them, to find them amongst the garbage and hate that have consumed them, but they are buried deep under the piles.

Why, in a time when the world is quick to turn against us, do we turn against each other? Why is it easier? Why has peace become a joke? Why is it unexpected?
When you are faced with a thousand decisions that seem to hold the power to change your life it is easy to be overwhelmed. When you feel like you are running from place to place without a moment to breath it is not difficult to fall apart. Your mind argues with your heart and your mouth defies them both. You speak before you think simply because the war that is raging in your head scares the hell out of you. You wish for the days when you had peace. Why has it become part of our character to rush? Why is everything a race for us, when did quantity become superior?
Why is my land a mess of hate and tension? Why does my heart pull me there with such intensity that sometimes I feel like I cannot breathe? Who chose this for me? Who signed these papers of everlasting war? And why, despite my need to walk through the streets of my home, am I still here? Why am I not home, trying to bring my people some peace? Why have we accepted these wars along with Israel? When did we lose hope for peace?
Our society has become obsessed immorality. Women are treated like crap and for some reason encourage it. Frum men cheat on their wives and molest their children. Girls give themselves freely, their minds and their bodies, without first wondering if the recipient is deserving. And we all breath a sigh of relief when Justin announces that he has brought sexy back, because apparently it was missing.
I can't take it anymore. I cannot let my heart break anymore. I need peace for myself, in myself. So I will use my voice. I will use my mind. I will use my belief and the strengths that HaShem has given me. I will find my own peace, because I will not live like this anymore.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Akeidas Hamlet

I have not posted in a while for no other reason than a lack of anything productive to say. I have been thinking, a lot, and I guess I was just between thoughts. I don’t know. I have been a little confused lately. Not anything so big or awful, just little confusions that seem to disrupt your entire day. Now, although I cannot say that I have totally solved these problems, I have begun to fix them and that is half the battle.

Why is it that you can have one thought running loudly and clearly in your head and then have your mouth and actions show something entirely different? Why is it so simple to hide who you are and so easy to fake your identity? Why do they want to make me feel bad about being myself? Why is it that they search for that confidence and try to consume it? Why have I been battling with appearance versus reality? As long as both of those parts of me are true why should I be lost in the deception of others?

We are reading Hamlet in my English class. The obvious debate of his craziness came up and I wasn’t sure in class what I thought but now I think I figured it out. I don’t think that Hamlet was really crazy. I think he was real, he was so real and so confident in his realness, even at the times that it was ugly and wrong. But the people around him: his uncle, his mother, even Ophelia who pretended to be unsure of her feelings when she knew them all along, they were so filled with deception. These lies began circling him, they entered into him with a power he did not understand, and they began to slowly eat him up inside. He lived with their falseness and it messed with his mind to the point that he started acting so odd that everyone assumed he was crazy.

Rashi says that HaShem did not command the Akeidah immediately because he did not want to make Avraham go crazy. But why would he go crazy? The medrash answers my question: Yesterday HaShem told Avraham that through Yitzchak there will be future generations and now today He says that Avraham should bring him up as a korban. This seeming deception, this contradiction in speech, could very well have driven Avraham to insanity. This sudden shaking of everything that he knows to be true could very simply have ruined him. So HaShem tells him slowly so as not to shock him.

I have been living with a list of deceptions. Some are lies that others put on me and some I put on myself. And slowly, during these past few weeks, I have been trying to break it to myself. Slowly, so as not to disrupt my life. Slowly, so as not to confuse my mind. Slowly, so as not to break my heart.

When you plant a garden you do not begin with a tree and work your way up to a forest. You must start with a seed, just one small seed, and after many years of work and patience you will finally have your tree. But your work is not done. You must then begin again on your slow and steady path to a forest.

A lifetime is not decided in one moment. A marriage is not planned out by one choice. A dream cannot be crushed by one negativity alone. It takes a lifetime of moments to become who you are, after years of marriage you still won’t always get it right, and a dream will live on forever, even if an entire army attempts to trample it.

A small prayer can change your life, it can change your day. A small prayer can bring you to recognize HaShem in a way that you never have before. The silent whisper of my prayer "Baruch she asah li et haness hazot" is sometimes enough to render another miracle. And the knowledge that my HaShem is one, is real, and is forever watching will always be enough to keep me going.

Speed is irrelevant. Time has no place in the world of HaShem.
Deceptions are not meant to be lived with but ignored. Do not give them a moment of your time.
Love can fix the most broken things in the world and can also tear down the buildings of a lifetime.
A slow prayer, whispered so only you can hear it, is the one that gives you the most strength.
Habit should not be dismissed because then the action is easily forgotten.
And Hamlet, my dear friends, was most definitely not crazy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

no greater love

There are some things that you really always know. Despite what we may say or convince ourselves to believe there are some things that you keep locked in the back of your mind. Things that you hide from yourself because you are scared of what they may mean for who you are; for what you are.

There is a perush that explains that Eishes Yefas Toar (when you see a beautiful woman in war among the captives and you desire her) does not represent a woman but our neshama. He says we are in a war against our yetzer hara and we see among it's captives something so beautiful and so breathtaking that we cannot help but desire her. We see her beauty and grace, despite the clothes of captivity that she wears. We see her knowledge of better things despite the sadness that shadows her eyes. We desire her. So we bring her home and we shave her head and cut her nails. We remove her dress of captivity, the sins that she has committed during her absence from HaShem, and she cries for one month for HaShem and her people Bnei Yisrael. For one month; for Elul.

Among all the struggle and battle that is Elul we see our neshama. We see how beautiful she is and we cry because we let her get captured by the enemy. But we bring her back and we dust her off and we cry again, this time with her, for the sins and the wrongs that have caused her this pain. And we love her because she shows us what else we can be. We desire her because she awakens something inside of us that we do not understand but that we welcome. Because suddenly a chesed is not so hard, and in a moment I am dying to open that Chumash and to just learn, all because I have noticed how beautiful it really is.

We cannot enter this war with negativity, with sin, with punishment. Enter it with love, with passion, with the kind of excitement that you feel when you look into the face of the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. The kind of understanding and peace that you feel when you know "ani l'dodi v'dodi li". This kind of love is priceless, this kind of love can cross oceans and climb mountains, this kind of love can remove the punishments that are hanging over us threatening our futures.

In a world full of judgment it is so easy to pass that judgment onto yourself. In a society caught up in what and how it is all too simple to forget the why. And in a religion where the truth guides us it is easy to hide from your own truths.

Do not face Elul with fear and pain. Face it with purity, responsibility, and love. Shed your tears through every tefillah and dance your joy during every mitzvah you do. Open your mind, your soul, and your heart to the love that HaShem is dying to give us. And understand that there is no greater love in the world than the one that is standing right before your eyes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Treasure Hunting

Beneath our very feet, buried under layers of golden sand, there is a treasure. No one knows where it lies, no one knows what it is, but all believers know it is there. So sharpen your eyes; it's time to go treasure hunting.

The sand sinks under our feet. Perhaps we are not real pirates, and it could be that there is no chest buried on the beach, but we don't care. In our imagination we can be whatever we want, and today we are treasure hunters looking for pirate treasure on the shore. We walk with heavy steps across the beach. The waves come up to my feet ready to play, the cold water touches my toes and I almost give in. But then I remember; I don't have time for games today for I am a treasure hunter. I reach out to take his small hand in mine but he is a pirate right now and pirates do not hold hands with their sisters.

We have been looking for hours, searching every foot of the beach. Still nothing. But no matter how long it takes we do not give up hope, we know that soon we will find the treasure. Suddenly he comes running. There it is, laying in his palm, a sparkling pirate coin.

Alright, so it just a dime, but to us it is the very coin that Blackbeard once held in his hand as he stood on these very shores. To us it has importance beyond it's real value, to us it is a piece of a wonderful adventure.

Not everything needs to be felt, not everything needs to be believed. Some things you just do because you know you must. Some things you just do because you know it is real. I do not believe it is a pirate coin, but I know that this adventure, this memory, is more real a moment that most people experience in a lifetime. His face, his joy at our game, that is real and that is what I know. And after I look at the dime for a while it really does begin to look like a pirate coin to me.
Sometimes I fall away from G-d. Sometimes I lose my step, I stumble. I go from having this huge desire to pray to not being able to get myself to concentrate at all. And at those times I always think I should wait until I feel like praying, until my emotions are shoved into every word. But that doesn't work because some things you do not have to feel right away. I pray because I know it is real and I know I have to. I concentrate because I know G-d wants me to. And after a couple of days of doing it because I must I begin again to do it because I want. I begin to feel the words again and to desire that closeness in a way that is stronger than before.

"Ki lo reik hu meekem" Because it(Torah) is not empty from you. Why does it say "from you"? Abarbanel says "Ki lo dava reik hu, v'im reik hu meekem hu. Lama? Ki lo hishtadel batorah." It is not something empty and if it is empty, if you find something lacking in the Torah, then it is from you. The lack and the emptiness comes from you. Why? Because you are not working hard enough.

Do not say you do not connect to G-d. You misunderstand because it does not matter. You do it because you know you have to and you know it is real, and through that knowledge, and the actions that come out of that knowledge, you will learn to love it with your heart and your soul and it will become part of you. But first you must begin.

When you begin a challenge of any kind, whether it be an addiction or finding a treasure on an empty beach, do not wait to begin when you feel like you should. Begin because you know you should and because you know you must. It doesn't matter if you want to, you need to. So just begin and it will be impossible to fail.

When you are looking for a treasure you do not desire the hours of searching and walking that it will require to find the spot. You do not yearn for the digging and the shovelling that you will do to retrieve it. You do not even want the ugly wooden chest it will be homed in. But you do it, not because you want to or because your heart tell you to, you do it because your mind tells you that if you want the treasure you must do this first. You would not wait to begin digging until your heart was in it, for your heart will never desire the pain and fatigue that will come from this physical effort.

A dime can be called a pirate coin if you please, but that does not make it a pirate coin, it is still just a dime. And the power of your mind, the willingness to believe and the knowledge that life is what you make of it, cannot change what the dime truly is but can make you believe that you are a treasure hunter. And once you use your knowledge to transform yourself into the person you must be, your heart will guide you until your eyes can only see the withered old coin of a pirate long dead.

So sharpen your mind, your heart will follow, it's time to go treasure hunting.

Tagged

1. Name one book that changed your life: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. 2. One book you've read more than once: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- I think I've read it ten times by now.
3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Lady of Avalon. That whole series actually.
4. One book that made you laugh: It takes a Village Idiot. This book is hysterical.
5. One book that made you cry: The diary of Anne Frank.
6. One book you wish you'd written: I Capture The Castle. 7. One book you wish had never been written: I don't have one. Why would I wish that?
8. One book you are currently reading: Minaret. It's really odd. I learned a lot. It was interesting. Worthwhile but not good.
9. Tag 5 people: diet garage if she's around, ss, yoni, david, lvnsm27. If any of you were already tagged I never know what to do so whatever. I suck at these things.

Friday, August 18, 2006

vacation

I'm going on a end of summer vacation, I guess you could call it, for a couple of weeks and I won't have a computer. Have a good couple of weeks. Bye!

Monday, August 07, 2006

silhouette of the world



Look how beautiful it is. Look at the contrast of colors. The shock of reality that comes from the brown in her hair. The sparkle of magic in her earring. And what amazes me most about this silhouette is that Charlotte Bronte was not beautiful; she was not the graceful elegant woman that this silhouette makes her out to be. But I suppose that is what art is: seeing the beauty and creating it in a way that everyone else can see it too. This is a shadow of her image, a shadow of who she was. It is not her entirely, it is not a complete representation of her at all. It is a shadow, only a shadow, yet it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

There is this feeling when you think you know what someone looks like and then you have a long conversation with them or you just look at them for a while and you realize that their face is not at all what you thought it was. It looks completely different. You feel as if you have just opened your eyes. You wonder how you could have not noticed that curve or that feature that stands out to you so clearly now. You only saw a shadow of them. You only saw a small sliver. And now you are finally seeing the rest of it.

When you know a blogger you know only a shadow of who they really are. Their life is secret, they realistic abilities are insignificant. Their true actions and thoughts are not represented here. Only a shadow, and sometimes a very beautiful one. But it is not real. What we have here is not real. It is only a shadow of a real world. A world where people sit silently and worry about the consequences of helping another. It is a world where sometimes the thoughts and opinions that are voiced here are kept silent. It is only a shadow and sometimes when we look up and try to see the real figure of the shadow we are blinded by the sun and we see only a dark silhouette. You can squint, you can lean as close as you please, but you will not see the features on their face or the expression in their eyes. All you get is a shadow.

A word is a very magical thing. A word can be used in a thousand different ways. A word, like music or dance or art, can show you the beautiful shadow of the world we see. A word can be woven and cut and stitched to fit any size. A word can go anywhere, it can be moved around to suit every situation. A word can represent a reality or a shadow. And although the story these words can tell has some truth they are not always real. A writer makes you hope that what they are saying is true. A good writer makes you believe that their words are real. A great writer makes you know that the words they have written are not merely a shadow of a greater creation, they make you know that it is a whole, that it is real. This is the kind of writer I want to be.

Many religions show you a shadow of the past. They rest their entire faith on this shadow. They gather their families and friends into the borders of it's dark outline and sometimes they only hope that it is real, and sometimes they believe. But there comes a day for every shadow when the sun changes, there comes that moment in time when the sun moves along. And when that time comes the shadow disappears. But you know what? The truth does not. And although the shadow may leave as quickly as it came with no proof of it ever being there the whole remains. And suddenly, instead of a shadow, you have the truth.

Our G-d, our religion, is not based on the shadow of something too great for us to understand. Our holy words, our Torah, our commentaries, they first let us hope that it could all be real and they they let us believe in it, and then once you have learned enough and searched enough and opened your mind enough you know. I know. I know it is real and true and I know that there is no other. I know that no matter how far I may sometimes fall I can always come back and it will still be there. I know that I live with the truth. I know. I know because the sun has shifted and the shadow disappeared. And although it can be very scary at first I soon realized that it was only a few small steps to the truth that had created the shadow in the first place. I know.

Jews start the day at night. It always seemed strange to me. Why do we start the day when we are asleep? That seems like we are starting out doing nothing. But we start at night because at night all of the shadows disappear. At night all of the slivers and slices and sections that we have been standing on fall apart. At night we are scared because we are asleep and we are not in control. We become unconscious for large amounts of time in which anything can happen and it is beyond our control. And then do you know what you do? You are scared because you have lost your shadows and you don't know where to go. And you are frightened because it is dark and you cannot see what is in front of you. But you look up at the sky and you see the stars, the thousands of stars that you cannot see during the day, and you remember that HaShem promised us that we would be like the stars in the sky and that we would last forever. So whatever shadows have disappeared and whatever tragedy has occurred that is beyond your control you will start your day off understanding that G-d is the truth,G-d is the whole,and G-d is watching out for you no matter what tricks the sun has played. G-d has promised you that you will be safe. So, with the sparkle of the stars above you, you begin to take your first step. And in your mind, before you move at all, you hope that it is true. After a few steps you believe. Then, at the end of the very long night when the sun comes up again and starts to play with your mind, you are strong because you know. You know.

A shadow is only beautiful because it represents the whole. It represents something good inside that is being reflected onto the earth you stand on. But when the sun goes down and the moon comes up, resist the urge to sleep. Stay awake and look at your world once the shadows have all disappeared. Look at your world with the truth, with G-d. And first you will hope, soon you will believe, and one day you will know. And when you do there will be no ray strong enough and no shadow big enough to fool you. You will finally see that it is only a shadow.