Thursday, September 04, 2014

980. #BlogElul 7: Be

(Just a little behind.)

When I think of "be," what first comes to mind is the question that travelled with me throughout childhood:

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

I considered many possibilities over the years. In first grade I became fascinated with bugs--excuse me, insects, with six legs and a proper thorax. My mother didn't appreciate the ant farm on our fire escape, but I managed to keep it going until they succumbed to the New York City winter. Uglier species were soon displaced by butterflies; I became Monarch-crazed and saved up for and practically memorized Lutz's Field Book, even though scant few pretty flying things ever appeared in Flushing. 

Then I started wearing glasses and, no pun intended, focused my scientific interests on myself. In 3rd grade I fashioned a clay and hand-painted model of an eye, compete with veins, and planned a career in ophthalmology. That lasted until I began to read the comics in the Long Island Press, and instead chose a future as the next Charles Schultz. I drew Snoopy all over my notebooks (the human characters didn't interest me at all). This direction kind of stuck, and by high school comics had turned into drawing and painting, and then in college more painting and graphic design, which is where I remain today (with a side order of painting, digital version).

But that answers only part of the question of what I ended up being. Some of me is an artist. Another big part is a singer (i.e. "alto artist"). Filling the gaps in between is a writer, friend, aunt, caretaker of cats, and person still trying to figure out what to do next, and if I am, in fact, grown up. I hope the coming Yamim Nora'im will help me answer some part of those questions.

Monday, September 01, 2014

979. #BlogElul 6: Search

"... Rebbe Nachman teaches: 'At times, when people are joyful and dance, they will seize one who sits apart in his sorrow. They drag him into their dancing round and compel him to be happy with them. This is also what happens in the heart of a person who is joyful. Sadness and sorrow withdraw on the sidelines, but it is reckoned as a special virtue to round them up boldly and to bring sadness along into joy, so that all the power of sorrow be changed to joy.' (Likutei Mohoran II 23)

Rebbe Nachman knew that for most people, most of the time, joy is an effort and a choice. Sorrow is always available, and we can transform it or let it govern us. There is nobody who does not know sorrow, and yet still Rebbe Nachman said, 'it is a great mitzvah to be happy always.' ..."
—Rabbi Brent Chaim Spodek, 

There's a lot of joy in my life, although usually not the woo hoo, let's run around with a bunch of balloons! kind. It's more often the quieter type: moments of love and friendship, small hurdles overcome, the light through leaves of a tree in the park in the morning, colors and textures of paint, a purring cat, a song, a prayer. Like the miracle of the air that surrounds us, these instances of joy can be so closely woven into the background that that they seem to disappear. But they're just waiting for me search for and notice them, and then grab on and dance.