My inner critic is having a field day with this one. I wrote it as a freewrite in my current One Story: Ten Facets group, where I’ve spent the past two weeks exploring different aspects of my Jewish identity. It was intended for the eyes of ten readers–not however many may see it here.
It’s disjointed and I should really polish it before even considering sharing it as a blog post. It’s edgy because, well, religion and “cock” in the same post.
And it exposes me a) coveting my neighbor’s pool (at least not the wife!), b) having emotions about as stable lately as the late-summer weather, with all the crazy storms that blow through and leave just as quickly, and c) writing without editing a word.
And this, my friends, is why I share. It’s not that I put everything out there, all the drek, all the drafts (believe me, most of what I write never sees the light of day), nor that I don’t value discretion or revision.
No, I share because it’s important to me not to get caught up in trying to maintain or cultivate an image of any kind, knowing that absolutely nothing we put on a page or a screen can ever really “capture” life.
I share the writing my inner critic tells me sucks because that’s my practice.
The Thread That Tugs
For a long time the thread that tugged was the idea of becoming a rabbi. The pull to that depth of study and of the belonging there, that sense of calling and purpose. For a long time, the thread that tugged was the one that landed me in tears every time. Tears of belonging and of purpose. And perhaps also of something else. The thread is always something else. The thread I’ve dropped. Then picked up, then dropped again. Has been. This. Sense. Choppy and staccato and unsettled. That I am missing. Something.
In this moment.
It’s interesting, because when I sit down today to write, that’s what tugs. This moment tugs me. My soul is tugging and saying, this. Here. Listen. Close your eyes. Touch your toes. Step away from the computer and stand on the driveway – no, better yet, in the grass. The day has grown cloudy. Last night’s storm was so incredible; wind so strong I thought it could be a hurricane. I kind of love the intensity of that, of the rain that gives us the expression “driving rain.”
Now there is a word people have used to describe me my whole life. And it describes my relationship to Judaism. The thread is intense, though. I don’t know if that holds up. Now I am self-conscious. This isn’t going anywhere. I’m just writing words. It’s ok. I tell myself: It’s ok. Keep writing. It’s always just past the resistance that things open up. And true enough, there’s sensation now, hinting at emotion.
I am sitting looking out the window. Through this bedroom window, at the back of this house we don’t own, I just this week noticed that our neighbors have a pool. We don’t know these neighbors. They have a pool, and the other day I saw a woman, the woman of the house, doing laps. I could see her at the end when she turned directions, through the bushes. I felt like a voyeur and couldn’t look away. I felt envy. I felt with all my might that I wanted to walk over there like a naif to say: Hello, I live next door, may I swim in your pool?
What is the thread and what’s Jewish about it?
Judaism teaches us not what to believe as much as how to live. How to reflect and challenge ourselves and see things clearly and be just and righteous. Not entitled and self-righteous. In other words, like any faith tradition worth its salt, it’s humbling. And instructive.
I want to look at the pool next door and think, how lovely, that I am sitting here writing in my room. My bedroom, my office, my center of gravity. How fucking lovely that I get to be married to a woman who loves me and my intense storms and my cock there I said it and my questions and my humility and my arrogance. All of me. No matter what.
This is the thread. It tugs at me to go further. To go deeper. To stand on the edge.
Photo credit: Murray Schwartz