Friday, February 08, 2008

And On the 7th Day, [S]he Rested

Shabbat Shalom, ya'll.

The significant male person in my life is presently down the road getting his Friday evening prayer on, while I sit here on his sofa, curled up with a flu-fever...and, of course, dancing with the characteristic amount of brain babble, which perenially resides in that otherwise empty space between my right and left ears, respectively.

Within the last week, it has occurred to me that there is always a pattern in life: No matter how high up there is to go, it seems as though this is only to extend the distance that one must negotiate when coming down. Being conscious of life's ups and downs has always been what has attracted me to meditation. It is also what I am finding as central to my constantly-expanding understanding of Judaism. Each week, for example, is ceremoniously opened and closed through a ritual of acknowledgment of life and time. For humans, it is reassuring to have this constancy. As an intellectual, it is similarly reassuring to note that things may pass, doors may open and close, seasons will change, but there is also a sense of constancy in what may otherwise feel inconstant. I guess some people may call this faith.

As a central component to my daily living, faith is the one thing that seems to get me through the day. However, unlike many people I have observed over the years, I do not confuse faith with my own sense of agency. For example, many people fail to take responsibility for their own personal welfare or actions by saying that the Big Guy Upstairs will "save" or "protect" them. To the contrary, my dialogue with faith has always been internally mustered than externally produced. For example, I have faith in the Universe that things do, indeed, happen for a reason, but it is the faith that I have in myself to learn, grow, and take full advantage of my moments of sailing as well as flailing that I find the will to keep going. The bottom line is that the Universe is always there, but it is not going to pay attention unless I am shouting my intentions with passion and, well...with intention.

In the past couple of months, I have been obsessively tending to the small garden I have planted, the one that will make my life take root in the next few years, both personally and professionally. The process of planting itself reads more like a chapter out of "7 Habits of Highly Successful People". Part of it is plain, old Machiavellian statecraft--keeping one's enemies under a close, affable watch, appearing professional yet harmless, while calling on all of my properly-honed resources not to fall from the sky on the very first time I have tested my wings as an academic. As if 6 years in graduate school has not already been a lengthy test of my ability to withstand and endure, I am now running with the bulls in the job market, while facing the gauntlet of timely dissertation writing. Time is ticking personally and professionally. It is no wonder that most days leave me exhausted, yet unable to sleep. It is interesting how my concept of faith changes when money is low and stress is so high...

The fact of the matter is that I am desperately seeking good soil for good roots. It's funny how I am only coming into consciousness and awareness of this desire. Of course, this inner-outer phenomena of my personal torsion is explicable from all sides. Simply, the work has been hard, isolating and demanding. I'm pleased with my successes, but ready for things to assume a pace of normalcy. Perhaps this is why I have spent the last year and a half allowing the pace of life to be determined by the short distance between one Friday night to the next. Perhaps it is due to the belief that there is a part of God, of the Universe, of all of this in every single one of us. I am now just beginning to understand why rest is so very essential on the 7th day. By all means, I need it...



VJ said...

Yep, and none of this changes much if the money is high but the stress is still very high. And yes, the work & the success that accrues from it is often "...hard, isolating and demanding". Only more so as the years go by. Cheers & Shabbat Shalom! 'VJ'

Anonymous said...

I once had a yoga teacher say to me: "Faith. It's trusting yourself and your good intentions. It's Finally Allowing It To Happen." How much of that "happening" is internal vs. external probably depends on the person. But, does it even matter? To each his own.

Your blog is fantastic, by the way. I'm a new reader/new to the blog scene and already so impressed at how much great writing is out here!

Restaurant Gal said...

Having just had four full days off, I pondered this notion yesterday evening, "Am I still tired or simply feeling relaxed?" In the distance, I heard for the first time, church bells softly ringing out a tune I recognized from the days when I used to love to go to church simply to feel peaceful in a church that welcomed me simply on that level. I have forgotten what relaxed feels like, I know tired all too well, and I miss the exercise of that faith that grounds us.