Thursday, December 30, 2021

Many Judaisms, One Me

As you can probably tell if you've read more than one or two things on here, I am Jewish. Many of my heroes are Jewish as well. Most of them were not religious, and I am not religious either. I love Kabbalah because it's trippy as shit and harmless as long as you don't take it too seriously. Traditional religion is not my bag and not likely to become so outside of things like classes. I'm Jewish by choice, meaning that I converted.

REASON

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand, creator of The Collective, a cult, is one of the greatest and most bizarre voices for reason I have encountered. Everyone should wrestle with Rand. If you accept her philosophy or reject it outright, you have not tried hard enough.

IMAGINATION

Contact

Carl Sagan dedicated his life to science and education. His essays in a National Geo book when I was a kid lit a candle in the dark. His books have made me a better father.

COURAGE

Ethics

When I converted to Judaism, I took the name Baruch in honor of Baruch Spinoza. His ideas gave us the modern world. He walked away from the only community and family he had in order to be true to himself.

SPIRIT

The Thirteen Petalled Rose

A couple of years ago I discovered the works of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, of blessed memory. I plan to read a little Steinsaltz every day for the foreseeable future.

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Solace of Fortitude

Life moves at a flash. It is easy to blink and miss something coming or going. I wrote this essay on 12/9, a day when I had steroid shots in my neck due to spine issues and neuropathy.

The details of how my neck got jacked up are unimportant, but this was not due to something I missed. It was due to me lifting too many weights past age 40 and asking my children to punch me in the stomach despite knowing what that did to Houdini years ago. I am no man of steel.

That's okay. I used to think life was about being happy, and I dreamed of being Luke Skywalker or Clark Kent. I have learned that it is about becoming healthier over time, being kind, and exchanging gratitude with others. It has taken me over 47 years to get very far down this path.

That's okay. It is easy to become so self-involved that we miss the sort of blinkworthy magical events that might form precious memories if given the opportunity.

That's okay. More memories will come. All we can do is try our best. Yoda gets this one wrong. Yoda gets a lot wrong.

That's okay. More wisdom will come. If you are receptive, lessons find you through teachers and loved ones and songs and books and dreams. Just pay attention as best you can. Try to observe without passing judgment or making guesses. If you can.

Once you can be at peace with all of those things, remember to breathe into your belly instead of your chest, and start walking. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. If not you, who? If not now, when? Embarrassment is not a terminal illness.

Years of hardship and struggle have provided me with the gift of peace. I would not wish them on anyone. Over time I learned to lean into them, getting a bit stronger bit by bit. As my old friend Ryan Franklin taught me to say, "Crawl, walk, run." I've modified it a bit: "Crawl, walk, run, fly." That's what we all want, right?

When you have been to Helheim and back, with no permanent injuries other than a few scars and fillings and tattoos, you can call yourself fortunate. I am very fortunate.

Life is a gift. With time, most harm from incidents and accidents fade, if we work and allow healing to occur. Atlas was cursed to hold up the heavens as a form of punishment after the Gods vanquished the Titans. He is welcome to shrug all he wants. The heavens hold up themselves. No one has told him yet. It is kind of funny to watch him struggle, although admittedly not very nice.

I think I will go listen to some Remy Zero. Sunshine feels good. It is a good day to be alive. Every day is.

☮️

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Navigating Worlds

Yesterday I received my order of Navigating Worlds: Collected Essays (2006-2020) by Bezalel Naor. It looks very interesting and appears to have a lot of information about Sabbateanism, an unfortunate development in the 17th century that centered around a man named Shabbatai T'zvi who converted to Islam after many people thought he was a supernatural messiah.

Messiah (Mashiach) means anointed one, not demigod or anything like that. The Messianic Age is a concept that envisions world peace. Something good to hope for.

I've only read a single essay, entitled When Elijah's Mantle Fell. It is about the songwriter Leonard Cohen, who has been a dark light to me for decades. He is on the short list with Robert Zimmerman, Phililp Larkin, and Michael Render.

A Day That Will Live In Infamy!

Forty years ago, HBO was a relatively new service. They only had a handful of movies that they played over and over again. On 12/12/1981 they must have played the Steven Spileberg masterpiece 1941 a thousand times.

Mani & Papa were watching us all day, and they allowed it. Papa was not big on ratings. He took me to Rambo in grade school, a decision of which I approve. He also let us ride around downtown Atlanta in the back of his pickup truck, a decision of which I do not approve. I wrapped that truck around a tree at age 12 or so with Papa riding shotgun. His head hit the windshield, but fortunately he did not fly through it.

I remember 12/12/1981 so well because that's the day my youngest brother was born. I don't know the story behind his name, but I know he is special.

I love you, Paul. Happy birthday. I am so proud to be your big brother.



Thursday, December 2, 2021

Breathe Twice, Write Once ☮️

I've had a very tiring couple of weeks. Thanks to everyone who has been patient with me as I have tried to process too much information. I am easily overwhelmed sometimes. Thank you.
Be peace.


I LOVE 🎵 BY MATTHEW PAUL MILLER!

More commonly known as Matisyahu 

🌞🌝🌚 🌞


Reach for the sky
Keep your eye on the prize
Forever in my mind
You're my golden sunshine
If it's rainin' in your mind
So push those clouds aside
Forever by my side
You're my golden sunshine

Thanks, Spotify!

2021 in review. My wild and crazy life. Sounds pretty damn accurate. Thanks, Spotify! 🙂☮️