Saturday, May 21, 2011
The day is young, but so far, the world has not ended. It's a quiet morning in Washington DC. I can hear the fountain in the front yard across the street, some birdsong, and my windchimes moving around just enough in a gentle breeze to make sound. The sky is clean, clear blue, the air is sparkling, Brother Sun seems happy to shine but is not inclined to beat down on us. Ahhh .... if the world were about to end, this would be the perfect day for it.
All this week, reading about the cult who were (again) predicting doomsday, I wondered how the children of these folks are coping. I felt so sad imagining them preparing to die. Supposedly adults can make up their own minds about what they believe, but kids? It's just mean to tell them the end is coming. I know the people who espoused doomsday didn't see it as cruel, but please. To wake up today, to discover that the world is not ending, well - now what are those kids supposed to believe? Grist for the mill, I guess.
One thing my father used to say about being Jewish is, As long as even a single person on earth is suffering, we can never be completely happy. I've thought about this idea many times, worked through it in therapy, etc. I took it in at a very deep level. The idea that we must all be miserable forever and ever (since of course there has always been suffering) goes a long way towards explaining my father's psyche, but does not ring true in any way to me. I had to work through it, though. For a long time I believed him, hence I never allowed myself to feel completely happy.
My mother used to say, You are capable of greatness in any field you pursue. Those are not her exact words - I guess I've blocked the way she said it because this idea, though it sounds generous and encouraging, was not exactly helpful. I'm not sure anyone is capable of greatness in any field. All of us have talents and skills, yes, but they must be developed through hard work and focus. Somehow my mother left out the part about hard work, study, and discipline, all of which are definitely a part of excellence no matter what. The fact that I was not able to spontaneously perform brain surgery or rocket science by the time I was in high school made me feel like a failure. I don't blame her, but it was a set up. She didn't mean it that way.
One parental message that has really worked well for me was something my father said whenever he wanted to humiliate my sisters, which was, Becky does not have a weight problem. I still believe it - no matter what I weigh, it does not seem like a problem to me. I believe my sisters have worked through that particular humiliation so as to understand that they don't have weight problems either.
Bloody hell, everything parents say has huge impact. Those poor kids of the Family Radio cult. My heart is with them today. May they become wiser from this experience. May it be so.
Shabbat shalom. Seize the day, people, and live fully yes? I say yes.