Caring and Sharing – Don’t mind me if you prefer not to read this. Just wanted to reach out in my way and say hello with a few crazy thoughts for the New Year.
So, summer is over and the New (Jewish) Year 5776 has begun for Jewish folks.
Now it’s time to say ‘where did the summer go?’ ‘Summer went so quickly this year.’ But, they said the same thing last year and the year before.
Well, remembering from previous years and now wanting to have to say that this fall,
I went out and had good, long summer. Not what some people would call real exciting.
I don’t travel except in the Bay Area. But I enjoyed my summer and can say I did
a lot, got out and about exploring the Bay Area Backroads, attending various events
and seeing some friends. And I hope you had a good, long summer , too. But, if you
didn’t it’s not too late to change your way.
I was just listening to a New Year’s sermon online from Rabbi David Wolpe of
Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and he was telling how his last child was going off to college and with a twist, she told him not to be too sad; afterall, she was
giving him food for a sermon, maybe even two sermons, joked the Rabbi. Then he made reference to the ’empty nest,’ saying it wouldn’t be totally empty since he would still be there – and it would a cleaner nest.
Then, he said that he hoped the next four years of his daughter’s college wouldn’t go
too fast, not that he didn’t want to see her. But there’s a tendency for us to look
ahead too far at goals, i.e. in this case college graduation rather than to focus
more on each day , getting the most out of them along the way – and for his daughter
to enjoy the process. You only go to college once. (Well, I added those last two lines).
Yes, I can say that the last few decades of my life have gone by fairly quickly
and I’m determined now to follow Rabbi Wolpe’s advice (which I’ve been doing anyway0 and get the most out of each day. In a article from our own local Temple Sinai Rabbi Mates-Muchin, she asked us to note the best three days of the past year and the worst three days and let those be a lesson. I couldn’t come up or remember three
bad days or three really good days. Everyday is generally good, within reason.
Sure, there’s a certain void of loss I always carry with me but try to turn that into positive energy (without going into detail). ‘Stop the Clock’ was one of my favorite stores in Berkeley that had a lot of nostalgic artifacts;maybe it was the name I especially liked – and I do try to ‘stop the clock’ or, at least slow it down. There are ways.
Instead of being too goal-oriented, it’s important to live in the moment, as Rabbi Wolpe says. Sure, one should be able to look back – I do it all the time – but in the context of today,bringing the past forward, such as honoring those who have passed in a current context.Each day should offer memorable moments we should enjoy, share and discuss.
That last word
is key – discuss. I think that’s something that’s lacking today in this world of digitalmedia where texting and email has replaced a lot of personal interaction- even phone calls are down. I have friends and relatives in the area I have hardly talked to this year.
Sometimes I’ve made the effort, but then maybe not enough, thinking that everyone’s so busy and they don’t really want to talk to me – maybe they don’t want to talk to anyone.But, this year, I’m going to at least make more of an effort to try. I feel it’s importantto SHARE things before too much more time goes by.
And, when it comes to the New Year, reminds Rabbi Wolpe it’s not for just one day we say
‘Shana Tova,’ but for an entire year. Yet, after the actual day is over, most of us forget
that we’re supposed to continue to have a good year EVERYDAY. So, after one day goes by
remember to celebrate the next day and the next day and the next day for the whole year,
trying to get something positive out of everyday.
When I wish people ‘Happy Birthday’ (or in my case, Happy Burtday) I try to tell people I’m wishing them
not just ONE great day but 365 days. Why not celebrate EVERYDAY? Of course, without getting older.(Ha!)
No doubt this all sounds corny to some – and that’s fine.I’m just
sharing thoughts, which I like to do- perhaps a lost art these days.
And, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject- or other subjects
So, back to Rabbi Wolpe. His daughter’s off in college. The tendency
for the parent is to tell the kid to study hard so they’ll graduate
and get a good job and get married. But, in Rabbi Wolpe’s case
I think he’d tell his daughter to enjoy the experience of college,
and please call or come home to visit from time to time , hoping
he sees her before the four years is up.
No doubt there are such goal-oriented families that sometimes overlook
the process for the goal and DON’T see each other -or little-
in that intervening period. Next comes the job, and the kid is
busy being a doctor or lawyer or whatever
with little communication back home…
or little or no fun along the process of working.
When you’re young you’re always looking ahead, which at the time
seems so far in the future. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have minded
a few more comments from the elders telling me to ‘enjoy it now’ –
‘don’t put off for tomorrow what you could do today.’ I think more
young people today do honor these words by taking time off from
school or work to travel or whatever, even if , perhaps, they
don’t see their folks and family as much as they might. I was mostly happy
to live in the same area as my parents most of my life. No regrets
of not seeing my loved ones enough, or helping them out when
they got older. That goes for my siblings, too. (Of course we all got
sadly short-changed there, and I think about that daily and try
to honor them or even communicate with my family somehow)
So, back to the kids. They graduate college and there’s a big
celebration and you might not see them again until -parents holding
breath- they get
married or until their new jobs slow down a bit.
So, for many people life is a series of goals and they’re missing out
a lot when they don’t live in the moment, but instead wait years for
the next goal to be reached before they really ‘celebrate.’
Why can’t celebrating be done often, even without a great reason
other than life itself. I like to look back often at the past
and sometimes look ahead to the future but, now I’ve learned
it’s about RIGHT NOW, enjoying the present. So what if the world’s
a little or a lot screwed up. One can still make a good life for himself or
herself. Probably most of us do, but still there’s a tendency as a kid
or young adult to
take things for granted. I don’t – and havent’ for years.
I remember going to services with brother Don, not long after mother
and sister Joan had passed from their medical illnesses. Now,
Don had cancer, himself, but he was able to attend services, limping
badly but still vibrant and I cherished that moment in time with him. All during the service,
held at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, I thought positive that there
would be more with him , but then there was the realistic voice telling
me that this could be the last religious experience I’d ever have
with Don. And it was. In fact, it was one of the last services
I’d go to with my family members; after Don, only Dad was left
and he’d given up on organized religion after losing two children
and a wife. However, I did get Dad to one or two more high holy days after
Don left us. I’ve thought time and again of quitting organized religion
myself but there’s something about the continuity that keeps me going-
and the beautiful liturgy and calming factor.
But, with all of my family there was always hope until the very end.
And, we hung onto that hope. I was so proud of Dad, in the end,
not having to go on hospice when granted that last surgery.
Nothing wrong with hospice for some, but for Dad there was still
a chance of prolonging his life with the ‘baloon-ectomy’ and
was tired of having unknowing aids lecturing us about going
on hospice. All of my family members hung on for a long time, Don for
three years with gioblastoma, when most people barely make it for
three months. Joan and Mom lived with their cancers for several
years. I was the lucky one, getting out of mine alive, and that’s
probably another reason I cherish everyday, having been given
that life ‘BONUS.’
And that brings up one very sad day I can point to this year, when
we lost one of the most vibrant, wonderful people so dear to our extended
family. One of the really inspiration people who always showed up
for ocassions, flying out from Denver for every wedding, Bat Mitzvah
or just to visit. If you knew her you know who I’m talking with.
She lived life to the fullest, especially helping others
while working with charitable organizations,
despite the tragic loss of her
doctor husband at an early age.
I certainly was inspired by her, wishing I could contribute to ‘
society a fraction of what she had done. It was about six months ago
-maybe more- I remember picking her up at the airport and taking
her down to have lunch with relatives. Who would have thought then
that would be the last time we would have ever see her, one of the most
vibrant, giving people you could imagine.
With all the above in mind, I/we enjoy each day now and it does go fast.
This is certainly not meant to be a lecture but my own thoughts
now having put a few miles on this car, having gone through a lot
and doing a lot of thinking.
And, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, too. I don’t know if
anyone is going to take the time or want to read this but if anyone
reading this would like to call or write to share some thoughts I
would love that. In this technology age we really don’t have direct
communication as much as we did.
One of my favorite family memories was from 1961, I believe -or maybe 1962- when all the relatives were over at the Kaufman house on Hillwood Place listening to the latest thing on record – ALAN SHERMAN, that hot new Jewish kid who did great musical parodies who had just came out with his album ‘My Son The Folksinger.’ We were all gathered around the cardtable LISTENING to strains of ‘Sarah Jackman’ (Frera Jacqua) and ‘Streets of Miami’ (Streets of Loredo) and ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic ‘ with the great line ‘where the Drapes of Roth were stored’ and ‘My Zelda’ (Matilda) who ran with the tailor to Venezuela, or something like that. (‘Hello Muddah Hello Faddah’ didn’t come out until the following year.) I had no idea what most of the lyrics meant as young kid but I loved the music and seeing family visiting and having a good time.
In any case, Happy New Year, Happy Yom Kippur to my Jewish friends
and relatives and I hope to talk to you more in the New Year,
sharing some interesting conversation again like I remember years