Monday, March 21, 2005

35. Hiding

Purim is in a few days. (I've learned the megiallah chapter, but am a little stressed about the costume, which is only half done). Most people think of Purim as a kids' holiday, but it's no joke at my synagogue. We're encouraged to party and be silly and strange in our bodies and souls, and wear masks to hide our usual selves in order to reveal our real selves. The rabbi spoke this Shabbat about finding goodness in evil, and vice-versa. There are no absolutes. We live on both sides.

This got me thinking about another kind of opposite. I struggle not with hiding behind myself, but behind time. I wrestle with the dichotomy of planning versus just living. Much of my life has been structured by goals, events that fit within a particular span of time and have a clear beginning and ending. Graduate, get a job, meet your deadlines, get a better job. I liked the neatness of it all, and chose to ignore the messier parts. Then there were some long stretches where life was put on hold, because I couldn't figure out where the beginning was or didn't like the obvious deadline. So I just waited around and trusted that the universe would produce a good timetable. Sometimes it did, sometimes not.

And then there have been the past four years, careening forward without really looking at my watch, discovering mostly good things along the way. This ride follows no schedule, and so I get nervous. I think it's also why chanting Torah and helping lead services gives me joy beyond my ability to express, and yet makes me uneasy. I never know when I'll be asked; I don't even know if I'll be asked. It happpens when I'm just living, like a surprise party. I'm afraid it will end, along with its gifts of new ideas, questions, and energy, so much energy, which I try to apply in ways that best honor its origin. But I also understand that no amount of planning will increase these rewards. They will continue to come, in one way or another, either through singing or something else, the more I just live.

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