Old Fears Yadda Yadda

KufIt’s just after 9:00pm. The girls are at their dad’s, and I’m in bed already. When they’re here, Aviva has become accustomed to us going to bed way sooner than she does, shortly after I snuggle with Pearl, who falls asleep within seconds of my stroking her hair and whispering in her ear. Occasionally, we stay up “late,” especially if there’s a show we’re really into or a book we’re reading together. But this past week or so, I have been bone tired at night.

Maybe it’s the cold. Last week it was hormonal. Could be a function of getting up at 5:30 every morning. Lord knows I’ve been writing about how much gets packed in for as long as I’ve been writing here.

My landing places lately have been many and few all at the same time. By landing, I mean: That space of letting all of the motion settle. Becoming aware of the stimulation that is pretty much constant throughout the waking hours. Feeling what it feels like to just be here, in a room, in a body. Tuning into the sounds and sensations. Full stop before sleep.

There is a short stack of books on my night table from the library. They’re all due tomorrow. Or was it yesterday? Two of them reflect the fact that I have a child who is preparing for her bat mitzvah. I have not read them. Aviva is busy choosing invitations and making her guest list, and I don’t know if God’s on it, as one of the book titles suggests. But we will find out on October 3, and I am choosing–after freaking out a few weeks ago–to trust her and our rabbi and the process. Tonight she called me after her youth improv class; she was going to be get picked up at Starbucks but there was a fire alarm and the whole place had to be evacuated, so she was walking to the library, which thankfully was open. She sounded older, in the same way I remember her suddenly sounding older when she was maybe four, her voice imperceptibly but undoubtedly different.

I wonder if my voice sounds different, too. I wonder a lot of things, and loved this post today about wondering.

I have been thinking a lot lately about fear. Not a new topic, but new faces of it, or rather old ones cropping up like photos in an album of people you never really liked anyway and thought you’d thrown away but there it is, as if you’d never moved it. Fears stemming from the oldest scripts–the what ifs dancing around like shadows that would only seem scary from behind a curtain of habit. Old terrain, to be sure. Which is where we find ourselves when we’re on the right path.

Fear may, in fact, be the surest indication that things are going well.

And just as I was writing that sentence, I heard a little ping and switched tabs to look at my email, and there was a message from someone I’ve never heard of in the middle of the country, asking me a couple of questions and saying she’d like to join my March 23-April 3 writing group, not knowing that she was a messenger arriving exactly right on time.

The messenger who says: Don’t fear. Keep going. This is where you belong. This is what happens when you come to a full stop after a full day, when you tune in and listen up and slow down. This is what happens when you don’t let self-doubt obscure joy–which we are actually commanded to experience during this Jewish month of Adar.

Joy. Affirmation coming at me from all sides. To be robbed of this because of old fears (a thousand variations of good enough, yadda yadda) would be like spitting at angels. And that is not something I would do; they work too hard on my behalf to deserve anything but thank you and want to ride shotgun?

No, I will not spit at the angels. I will read to them instead, sing even. Do a little dance and make a little love. Hell, I’ll even get down tonight with this quote from Steve Jobs, that Katrina posted on Facebook today: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

I’ll say thank you to every single person I interact with who reminds me why I’m here and how much there is to share and how little there is to lose by doing so. And by every person, I mean you.

Finally, so unexpectedly, I find this: Every Jewish month has a corresponding letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter for Adar is Kuf. And reading about it, I am pretty much bowled over.

Letter: Kuf (ק)

The letter kuf means “monkey” (קוף), the symbol of laughter of the month of Adar. In accordance with the idiom “as a monkey in the face of man,” the kuf also symbolizes masquerade, an accepted custom of Purim. Before the miracle of Purim, God Himself “hid His face” from His children Israel (in the entire story of Purim, as related in the book of Esther, His Name does not appear even once). By initially hiding one’s true identity, pretending to be someone else, the innermost essence of one’s true self becomes revealed. On Purim, we reach the level of the “unknowable head” (“the head that does not know itself nor is known to others”), the state of total existential hiddeness of self from self, for the sake of “giving birth” to one’s ultimate self anew.

The word kuf also means the “eye of a needle.” The sages teach us that even in the most irrational dream one cannot see an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. Yet, on Purim one experiences this great wonder, which, in Kabbalah and Chassidut, symbolizes the truly infinite essence of God’s transcendent light entering into the finite context of physical reality and revealing itself in full to the Jewish soul.

The innermost essence of one’s true self, unmasked. An irrational dream, and the great wonder of an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. Life manifest. Onward with joy.

Image: Kuf, by Eli Serabeth

6 thoughts on “Old Fears Yadda Yadda

  1. Pamela says:

    Oh my goodness, I needed every single word. Adar fascinates me. Thank you for your words and for not spitting at angels and for letting all of your light spill out. xoxo

    Now I am going to go read this again …


  2. Nina Badzin says:

    Loved this! I just wrote about Adar and that piece comes out next week. But I did not know about Kuf!!

    What a group we pulled together for March 23! I will take a tiny tiny tiny bit of credit. But you get the important part of that–because you are our fearless leader or at least fearless enough to have created something special. Thank you.



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