Striving to See the Good

I don’t believe in bad luck. I am a strong believer in fate. I believe everything from the big things – births, jobs, marriages — to the little things – the wind blowing, the amount of the electric bill, hair color — is meant to be. This belief stems from my belief in an all-encompassing G-d who is involved and does things for a reason that is ultimately good.  Despite that, there are times and events that can’t help but leave me wondering why, what is going on, where is the good? 

A week and a half ago a good friend of mine told me that his 11-year-old daughter has a brain tumor.  This girl has an amazing spirit.  She is a positive, sensitive, caring, and spiritual child who has not let any of the challenges she faced slow her down. Now, she and her family are faced with this incredible mountain.
A little boy who resides in my community recently underwent an umbilical cord blood stem cell transplant. His parents have been trying to find a stell cell match for some time. Unfortunately, a direct match was never found. So, now they find themselves trying this risky surgery and facing a long recovery (we can only hope and pray) process.
This afternoon, a friend of mine emailed and told me she is losing her job as of August 31st. The funding was cut and her position is being terminated. She is both scared and worried. With the economy as it is, this is certainly understandable.
Lastly, a friend of mine emailed me to let me know her oldest sister, just 49, passed away last week. She was suffering greatly from cirrhosis. The pain from the disease and other difficulties she was facing in her life became too much for her to bear. She chose her own way out.
The 11 year old has come through the first phase of her recovery well and the doctors are optimistic. The three year old continues to battle, and he has had some good days. My friend who was laid off is giving herself a day to mope and then vows to network like crazy (she is definitely the type).  My other friend and her family take some comfort that their sister/daughter is no longer suffering. 
As for me, I still believe in G-d. In fact, I am using these events and others to  inspire me to pray more. I pray for recovery, comfort, understanding, and for that which only G-d knows my friends and others need.  I pray to see the good and appreciate that in reality everything is just that.

Just Watch TV!

I look forward to the weekends. I love being able to use my time more as I want rather than as I must.  I look at weekends as a time to refresh, bond, and catch up. This doesn’t make me unique – I know. Heck there are songs, stories, and clichés about looking forward to the weekends.

My family and I observe the Jewish Sabbath which runs from sundown Friday till one hour after sundown Saturday. During this 25 hour period, we strive to have our focus on more spiritual endeavors.  In addition, we spend time with family/friends, eat good food, dress nicely, and rest.  We do not use electronics (lights and ovens are left on) such as computers, television, phones, etc.  This tune-out of the mundane does indeed help to create a mental break from the previous week and is a way of preparing for the upcoming week. Each week, I greatly look forward to the Sabbath.

I looked forward to it just the same, but this past Sabbath was different. The children could not stop arguing. Our older son (BR) was rude, pushy, and overaggressive with his brother; the younger son (SY) was whiney, instigating, and inflexible. Everything that occurred produced a fight. I know many of you are probably shaking your heads at this point thinking something like – “kids arguing – been there, know that one.”  Me too. However, this time seemed different. It was as if they could not stop. Eventually, I insisted (actually, I yelled loudly but insisted sounds nicer) that they each go to their rooms and shut their doors. However, you know what I wished for – really – the television. I would have been happy to hear Thomas tooting, the Backyardigans going for a snack, Spongebob laughing moronically, or Dragonball Z Kai characters yelling. These sounds would have been music. Each child in a separate room watching contentedly and quiet – ahh. Hell, I would have brought them popcorn.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t encourage even more television watching, but damn it, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Peace and quiet on a weekend thanks to nonstop TV.  Have they written a song about that?

Be Free

It’s getting closer.  I can feel it.  The countdown will soon reach 0.  Very soon, it will be ‘Houston, We have blast-off.’ In fact, by the time you read this, I might be on another planet.
Well, not quite another planet.  However, I will be on a vacation (a stay-cation technically, but that’s not the point).  As I write this, I can envision my mother’s finger wagging, “Don’t rush the time away.”  She has lectured me on this a time or fifty, and it is truly good advice, but I don’t want to hear it now.  I am sooo looking forward to my vacation. I’ll turn off the alarm clock (and be awoken by my children earlier than I would like but that’s a story I’ve told) and be lying in bed during rush hour.
However, the reason I am particularly excited is that the vacation is to celebrate a holiday, Passover.  It is an all-encompassing holiday that requires a ton of work to prepare for. In all honesty, my wife does the majority of it.  You know how sometimes you prepare for things and ultimately wonder, “Why did I bother?” This holiday is one where all the preparations are necessary and useful.
The theme of the holiday appropriately enough is independence. G-d, through Moses, led the Jews out of Egypt and slavery. The underdog goes free, the bad guys get punished. Pretty great story – almost Disneyish.  Anyway, with independence everything is possible.  The question is how do you use this newfound independence and freedom. It’s like graduating into adulthood. Many possibilities and challenges – up to each person to make the most of their chance.  So, the holiday provides a reminder to appreciate your independence, recognize your freedoms and utilize these gifts to make the most of what you have been given. Pretty great lesson, I would say.

A Heavenly Interview

We all get frustrated with work. We all have those days. You know what I mean, you’ve been there. The thoughts run through your head:

Is vacation ever going to come?

How many more days to retirement?

How hard is it really to rob a bank?

How much money do really I need each month to live?

Can I FINALLY just win the damn lottery?

Then, the next day comes, and we get up in the morning and go about our busy day. Oh well, what choice do we have – it gets better, and besides, as I argue with myself, my kids like to eat.

I wonder if G-d feels like this. He (no, I am not a sexist, but ‘He’ sounds better than the Eternal Heavenly Being) must. How frustrating are we human beings? We make promises, swear, and pray, but do we really change all that much? We are still liars, thieves, killers, etc. There has to be a point where G-d wants to say, ‘what’s the point?’ He already tried the flood and that didn’t straighten us out. He gave us the 10 commandments and a whole lot of commentary, but how many people follow that carefully.

So, what if G-d decided, I’m tired of this job – so much responsibility and so little reward? What if He considered a new job? After all, the average person goes through 5 careers in a lifetime, so why can’t the Eternal being try something new. It’s time. Anyway, I figure He would go for something in construction, after all, he did build the world. Imagine the interview:

Interviewer: So, Mr. – how do you pronounce that name?

G-d: I have many names. Please just call me Mr. G.

Interviewer: Okay. Mr. G. Can you tell me about your relevant experience?

G-d: Well, I made the world.

Interviewer: I hear you buddy. I’ve been around too. Sometimes, it does feel like I built the world. Anyway, can you be more specific?

G-d: First, I made the heavens and the earth…

Interviewer: What do you mean – bridges?

G-d: Something like that. Anyway, I also made man.

Interviewer: Man? Do you mean you were a stay-at-home dad, raising boys?

G-d: Well, I am with all my children all the time.

Interviewer: You sound like a real family man.

G-d: You could say that.

Interviewer: We appreciate that around here, but we need people who can be flexible with their hours.

G-d: I am very flexible – I can work morning, day, or night, or any combination. However, I don’t work weekends.

Interviewer: Family time.

G-d: Religious needs.

Interviewer: I understand. Do you have any questions for me?

G-d: Thank you, but no. I have the answers.

Interviewer: Okay. We’ll, be in touch.

G-d: Thank you.

Unless he pulled some strings, I’m not so sure G-d would get that job. He might have to go back to his original job. After all, is that so bad? He could make tomorrow a better day. If we really put our heads to it, maybe we all can.