Little Yid, B.A.

{t-18}

Blessings unto you, dear reader, at this time of blessing.

I graduated today.

Before I was like
FEAR__here________________________LOVE

and now I’m like

FEAR___________________here_______LOVE

It’s incredible how transformative it is to be just a little bit further along the love train. Everything is better when done in an open-hearted state of loving and goodness. Everyone I interacted with today was happy. They say the one common factor in all  your crappy relationships is you. Same holds in reverse.

I had a great time with my parents. They were overbubbling with joy at having a graduating son – two of my brothers have rabbinical ordination, but I’m the only one with a Bachelor of Arts. The novelty probably appealed to Mummy and Tatty. And hey – there’s a certain deliciousness to playing the goyische game and winning.

Mum was busy running the household afterwards, but I went to dinner with Tatty. Atonement with the Father is going GREAT.

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I’ve had an extremely strained relationship with my parents all my remembered life. At the age of seven, things got so bad that I ran away to live with my grandparents. I would spend years at a time living with Grandpa and Grandma, return to my folks’ place for a few years until things got bad again, and repeat.

At some point I mentally excised the part of my mind that dealt with them. In the location on my inner hard drive where I might keep the empathy files for my parents was just a huge [NO FILE FOUND].

Recently, I’ve been reconnecting those synapses, and reconnecting with my parents. It’s been great. Tatty particularly is a fantastic listener – a friend of his once complimented me by comparing my listening style to my father’s. I had been bringing my A-game, so it really put my dad’s skills in perspective.

Now that I’ve taken again to Judaism, Tatty and I have a lot to talk about. He’s been super-into his Torah study since he retired, spending several hours a day, every day, in the beis medrash.

He asked me tonight what I would change about the education system if I could change one thing. I explained Bear’s secure/insecure-dominant/submissive system, and told him that I’d teach the teachers how to be secure-dominant with an open heart.

Heh. Teach the teachers.

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Things have returned to their mythical clarity. I pray this change endures.

Next stop: apotheosis!

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Stresses of Golus

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Unearned suffering is redemptive. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

{t-20}

Suffering. Lots of it.

Cialdini has an interesting spiel on how beliefs are like tables. They may be raised originally on a particular set of cognitive legs, but once they are up, more legs soon join – this he calls “commitment and consistency”. Eventually, one may even remove the original causes of the belief without it tumbling, for all the additional legs now bear the weight.

I wonder at the source of my misery. I wonder how much of it is based in new-found feelings of spiritual accountability; how much in fear of the unknown; how much fear of end-of-childhood, of leaving the nest, of leaving all I’ve ever had and everyone I’ve ever loved; how much of it is the stress of too-many-things-still-left-to-do; how much the “Yitzi Plays Zelda” webseries I’ve always wanted to make, the one which is now-or-never, and which every day slides slowly towards never; how much the final damned graduation which I’ve sought so long, yet always avoided.

Dave Allen says a mind is for having thoughts, not for holding them. I’ve been holding a lot of stuff recently, and each cognition seems to take its turn punching me in the gut.

I tell myself that it will all end when I board the plane, and that indeed seems likely: much of the weight of “doing a good job in Sydney” will indeed rise from my shoulders. I’m pretty good, usually, at avoiding regret. Lately it’s been slaughtering me, but that might just be because I’m already weakened from fighting all its fear-based friends.

I’m going to sleep now. I pray the Lord grants me an open heart and a firm hand tomorrow.

Exodus

In every generation, a man must view himself as though he left Egypt. – Pesachim 116b

The mind can only measure what you will lose. It can’t measure what you will gain.Kyle Cease

{t-31}

Yesterday was painful.

I spent a lot of it lying on the floor, surrounded by half-packed boxes, crying.

In thirty-one days I’m moving to Israel, by the grace of God. I don’t know what will happen when I’m there. I don’t know what I’ll do. I think I’ll study in a yeshiva, but I don’t know which one, or for how long, or what I’ll gain from the experience.

The one thing I’m quite sure of is that my life in Sydney is over.

Emigrating is a rare opportunity to flush out all the bullshit, all the grime that slowly accumulates and sticks to your soul. But every movement, every change, every moment carries the same choice:

exercises-that-keep-hands-young-2

Clenched fist or open palm. You can hold on tightly to what you have, or you can open to possibility. Everything you own drains some of your cognitive energy; everything you believe locks out some of your mental realm of possibility.

So I’m trying to let go, as much as I can. Release, release, release. It feels exhilarating to walk through life with open hands but it is oft excruciating to unclench the fist.

Tonight is the first night of Pesach.

This dichotomy – the choice between clench and release – sits at the heart of the Pesach story. Pharoah is the ultimate clencher. He refuses to let go, refuses to submit, no matter what the personal cost. His attachment to his own power is absolute. Each time the Lord humiliates him, he refuses the lesson, and perseveres in his obstinance.

Pharoahs are so attached to themselves that they refuse to accept the humility of death. Their greatest monuments are their mausoleums, defiances of their own ends, denials of their mortalities.

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The farce of the pharoah is that his glory is inevitably laid low, though it may take millennia. He knows this, and it eats at him, fills him with an unquenchable fury. I was going to post the text of P.B. Shelley’s Ozymandias here, but then I discovered that Zen Pencils has made it into a characteristically wonderful cartoon, so I recommend you read that instead.

Moses is different.

When summoned to kick Pharoah’s butt and free all his dudes, he’s like, “nope, I ain’t good enough.” He fights God all the way to the palace, where he begrudgingly passes on God’s eviction notice.

Later, in the desert, the Jews whine about wanting meat. Moses complies, after words with the Big Guy, but with a caution:

Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”
Exodus 16:8

What strikes me here is the rhetorical question: “and what are we?”, where Moses effaces himself and his brother Aaron. You know, the two most kickass dudes in the world, the guys who outclassed the sorcerers of Egypt, wrought wonders fantastical, and rescued their people from the clutches of slavery.

Anyone else would be gloating. Anyone else could be forgiven for gloating. Moses doesn’t gloat. He doesn’t think he’s that big a deal.

And what are we?

He accepts his own insignificance, that he is but a pawn in the hand of the King of Kings. And in his very acceptance is his power. The Alter Rebbe calls it koach mah – literally “what energy”. The energy of knowing your own powerlessness, and of accepting that while you are compelled by all Justice to do the work, the outcome reposes in different hands.

 

Tonight is the first night of Pesach.

The birth pangs of the Redemption are at work. We sit three minutes from midnight.

watchmen_screenshot__doomsday_clock_by_monsieurbubbles-d73kc74

May God bless you with the personal exodus you yearn for, and redeem us all from misery.

Chag Sameach.