It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Not because I haven’t had anything to say but because I’ve been allowing myself to operate from a place of Fear rather than a place of Love.
Both the great energies of Fear and Love are equally crucial. Our free will gives us the option to choose at any time which to tap into. It has been my experience the best use of Fear is as an instrument of survival but nothing grows there. Love is the energy from which all things flourish but you need to make yourself vulnerable first. I don’t like that…but the alternative is no better.
Setbacks suck. They especially suck when you are blindsided. They especially, especially suck when you are blindsided while you are already in the midst of another crisis. You feel as though the Universe itself is conspiring against you. The truth is, nobody is so important that the Universe will collect its entire force to inflict misery upon any solitary person. Still, that’s how we feel in those dark moments.
Last week, my chapter of the board of REALTORS hosted an event filled with relaxation and self-protection. We learned some basic tai chi (shake that tree to make the stress fall away). We also learned some very, very basic martial arts. The senseis performed a demo for us. One acted as the attacker and threw his fist at the other. They paused just as they were about to connect. The sensei being attacked said that it is often instinctive to see the fist coming and put up your arms to absorb the blow of the hit as best as you can. This can be somewhat effective but the attacker remains in charge and you are victim to the event, albeit to a lesser degree than intended. A more effective response is to put your arms up to defend but instead of absorbing the hit, divert the attacker’s energy by using your arms to deflect the attacker’s fists downward. This way, you take charge of the energy — even if for a moment — but a moment is all you need to derail the attack, remove yourself from the situation and alter the outcome. This is not something that requires a lot of physical strength. Rather, it is about maintaining presence of mind, even while in crisis.
It is during this week’s ill-timed, blindsiding setback that I find myself at a crossroad and reflecting on what I learned from the sensei. I can absorb the hit and allow myself to get struck down. I can plunge deeper into the identity of “victim of circumstance.” I can lay there in the calm of the aftermath but soon I will fall into a downward spiral, gaining momentum that will eventually become to powerful to resist and impossible to rise against. Or I can maintain my presence of mind during the crisis and redirect the damning energy into a productive force to help me not only out of this event but to use that momentum to defeat prior negative circumstances.
One of those paths at the crossroad is infinitely more appealing. One person is in charge of making that choice. I need to have faith in her…and faith has a way of only showing up when one is being tested.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On January 27, 1945, the largest Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27th as the day we remember the six million lives that were cruelly ended because of intolerance and hate gone wild.
On January 27, 1930, my Mama was born on a kitchen table in The Bronx to her parents who fled Jewish persecution in Russia, years before the rise of the Third Reich. She did not practice Judaism but always identified herself as a Jew and proudly shared the culture with me as she raised me. She told me of the horrors of persecution through the ages but she always focused on the fact that we come from a long line of survivors who for thousands of years not only beat all odds by merely existing, but who found joy in life.
In 2005, my Mama left this world. In her coffin I placed in her hand her favorite earthly delights: a pack of Pall Mall red, no filters (which was the culprit behind Mama leaving me so soon), chocolate covered cherries with all liquid centers, Joyva marble halvah and song sheets for all the good old songs she’d sing with her brother. I kept the memories here…in my heart. Since 2005, I remember my Yiddisha Mama.
I find the coincidence of International Holocaust Remembrance Day occurring on her birthday and it being declared the year she died, strange…but very fitting.
Today, remember to be kind to one another. Honor this day.
As I write this, it is the final half-hour of the day that marks the first anniversary of the day my entire life changed. One year ago tonight I was told something so heinous that it caused me to question every prior moment of my life. Right now, it is not important that I tell you exactly what it was that was said. Even if it was, I wouldn’t be able to. A year later, the wound is too fresh.
August 17, 2008. I didn’t think that I would ever be able to smile again. I thought my life was over. As it turns out, I was half right. My life as I had known it was indeed over, but that is not a bad thing. Not only can I smile, but my life is filled with laughter now.
I can go on and on but I won’t. I will just leave you with one of the greatest lessons I learned from this whole thing. Don’t give up hope, no matter how bleak things may seem or how alone you might feel. Things will get better. You will be able to laugh again one day.