jeudi, septembre 29, 2005

be happy where you are and don't fret about saving time...?

First, shameless plug, I just met Natalie who works for sippurim by all means it is a really awesome site, please go check it out and utilize it if you have children.

I absolutely adored this book _Bagels from Benny_ --it is by far a super super duper book. I heard from mindy that I should read _What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street_ as well as the book about Dancing with Zaide, but I haven't had a chance to track those books down. (It's thundering outdoors. my oh my. I was going to go grocery shopping but I guess maybe not right now.)
the depth and not the surface...

I recently read _The Little Prince_ by Antoine de St. Exupery. I love this book. It is really wonderful. People forget it its lessons so often and that makes me sad. so many people have told me they like the book but they don't see the way the prince's relationship with the flower is like a relationship they had or are in. I can see how easy it is to be a grown-up... one just forgets all the things one learned about the world and it is easy to just close your eyes and pretend that nothing is there anymore, but what one sees on the surface... this world is so good at having us be blind to what really matters in life. I wish that this would not be the case. I really wish there was some way to tap into life and remind people of what is really and truly beautiful in the world... and what really really matters.

(It made me think of the dreamtime walkabouts. I thought of the dreamlines and the songs and stories that are told about life in the aboriginal world. Learning how an open love protects one from pain and from hate... lacking fear, because one walks with Hashem. I miss the dreamtime. I remmebered a lesson from a teacher once: it is not good to live in such a heavily civilized and populated area all the time, becuase you may come to forget the truth inn the world that what is really important is what is within and what really matters are the connections we make with other people. Those connections... that is wealth.)

I have heard so many people tell me that they are too busy to think of the world in such precious terms as .. this person may be my last time seeing him, or that one it may be my last time speaking to her, these guys tell me that they just can't live life that way, otherwise they would do nothing with their lives, but I do not believe this is true. I believe with my heart's core that people can live their lives, work and meet their responsibilities and still remember to love and to treat each other as if this may be their last time together. The crux is in how you treat another person and how you speak, not in where you are or whether you are spending all of your time with that person. Sure we might regret telling a friend I can't talk now, I have to go to work. Those things can't be allayed, but we can certainly remember if someone we love called and we were curt with a family member or loved one in annoyance or frustration.

(Incidentally, it seems to me that men learn what to cherish a bit more when they get married. It may be that they learn to follow what their wives tell them to do either because their wives make it so unpleasant for them if they don't or because they recognize her wisdom...there are many more options than these two, but... anyway we should also recognize that not all women are wise.)

To see beauty where it is anytime, to be cheered up by a rainbow or a sunset, is to know that life could change terribly the next day. Today, I could be a free man walking with my own plans and tomorrow I could be caged, enslaved, forced to do another man's bidding. So today, I will stop to smell this rose, to adore the sound of the rian, to love the majesty of the natural beauty all around me. Each day one can stop and admire the world around him and say "Today, I will recognize and honor Ribono Shel Olam, Haborei, the One who rules and creates all."

Beyond that, too, though, is an interesting commentary that de St. Exupery makes about people and moving in caravans... that if people would simplify their lives and live in one place, they would have made their lives easier. One creates the roots and the connections... one tends to those people and those connections with dedication and one's life is not so lonely, not so terrifying, and not so hard. If only we could all figure out how to live that way.
I like what he writes about the idea of being tamed... to create ties... the secret of the fox was that same secret that CSLewis identified, which is that painn is part of the package of love. Love is so incredibly great and beautiful it is a shame to miss out on it. Even if one must endure pain, one is so blessed to have touched another life, to have been touched by another life, and most of all... to have had a connection to another being. Love is that connection. Language brings us misunderstandings no doubt and can often bring more pain, but no matter it is also a vehicle for that love... which is ultimately according to Erich Maria Rilke the entire purpose of living.

One is made special through onne's connections to other people, one is made precious when one allows oneself to trust and to share... all the pieces of a person when shared with another person both people grow and gain... sure, all people develop rituals they do.. stupid things, like if I preface a comment with someone's name in a certain tone of voice.. the other person expects a lecture,... if I preface a comment with a certain sigh, the person listening expects to hear a certain type of comment. All the more so in other affairs... people have rites even for physical things, actual habits, ... but those things make that relationship unique. The rites are specific in peculiar ways to the people involved. Saying that you love your mother is different from saying that you love your father, but they're both parents, ... simply they are different people.

What I thought was interesting though is the discourse about thorns.. what do flowers have thorns for... to me that question can be reworded as: what do people push others away for when they yearn for connection and closeness?... I find the exchange between the little prince and the flower as he gets to know her so typical of human relationships as men and women et to know each other. I also find it odd that other people do not identify real life events with those patterns I see in the text, but alas alack, I suppose it is to be expected.
I wonder that people have forgotten if they look up at the sky on a starry night, that somewhere up there is a little prince wiht a flower he adores, and a sheep in a crate, with a muzzle that has no strap... and baobab trees he must fend off...

de St. Exupery shows us grown ups who are concerned with clothes, counting things, business -the desire to own things and to feel more iportant because one can own things... like stars, land, novel concepts, power/ruling, vanity/ego/self-aggrandizement, shame/drinking to forget the shame --those stuck in patterns of self-destruction, rote and ritual actions which are so unfulfilling and yet are adhered to so closely it is mind-boggling, and he shows us people who will do so much to save time, but for nothingness, and people who are nnever satisfied with where they are... he shows us how empty all of that is ... the lesson of the geographer that he is only concerned with those things which will endure forever... is so ironic inn that even those things which he records are ephemeral.. but most precious of all is that he teaches the boy the word ephemeral... you see no matter how much you think here and now is important... his fights & his hurts with the flower mean nothing at all whhen he realizes that she is not going to endure forever, that she is ephemeral, because this is the source of so many regrets... people in our lives come and go, this is the way of the world, but we must know to treasure them at the momnt we have them... to let go and to lose for nothing, but simple "serious" grown-up things like business, vanity, shame, power, ritual, etc. this hardly seems quite right in his world. Perhaps he misses soemthing and perhaps he doesn't, for you see.. I would ask, so many people are touched by this book.. why are they touched?

Meckleschnott, the Third, once told me that we cry and we love those stories that tell us who we want to be. I suspect he is right.

We *want* to be able to live as the little prince wishes he could teach us to live, but so many people don't know how to do so. They feel like these fellows I know do, that one simply cannot live like that and make it in the world today. I am not so sure that is true. If you are sad that we are destroying the world and that species are going extinct, are you not sad, too, that you are not living your life true to yourself and really in touch with what matters in your own life? If you are sad that you are still struggling with a paper you must write that you will not write for various excuses, do you not also see that you reuse to write it because internally you are unhappy or afraid? If you will not leave the man who continues to hurt you, even though friends of yours say that they love you and will help you, do you not see how you are betraying yourself? Few people seem to see how much what really matters in life begins within oneself. To be a good friend, to be a truly solid person, to be able to really love, to be a fine parent, one must first really learn to love oneself. Learn to love the person within, the heart, the mind, the soul, the thoughts within... and one learns to love, by really knowing and really being aware and present with ones feelings and thoughts. We are all so willing to do that to get to know another person, but so rarely will be grant ourselves that courtesy and that accord of love, honor, and respect.

Do we know what we love? so we know what we will fight to die for? In Judaism, we say there are a handful of things for which one must give up one's life rather than do... how many of us are ready and prepared to do that? I find it astounding that even my favorite black-hatters don't know the answer to this question.

de St. Exupery shows us too in the tale of the baobab of how one does as Voltaire says "il faut cultiver votre jardin" it is necessary to cultivate your own garden... aka it is important to grow and learn and teach oneself. Reach inwards and remake yourself... learn and always learn, grow and find the flaws and root them out, make sure that the baobabs-- those traits within- which could destroy/fracture your planet are rooted out.. Inspect oneself and one's own planet to guard against these things.. this is one's role as a parent to oneself. Baobabs start out very little and when they grow too big, they are a force to contend with...

It amazes me when we are touched by acts of heroism and when we are touched by other people's sacfrices... we see in humanity those things we admire and wish ourselves to be so giving, so heroic, so amazing, so altruistic, so pure and so innocently good... It also touches me that the little prince is Antoine's manner of relating his outlook on life and what life, heaven, death are about... that when one dies we can look into the stars still, and that as one lives, one must still look into the stars to remember what is important... these bonds we make they last beyond death. That love we forge & the relationships still mark us as special even when the other person is gone, ...

Sometimes it is eas to forget when a person does something for us.. the object itself is all the more precious because of the story that comes with the object... the water that the prince drinks at the end of the story is the discussions while walking, the walk, the time he spent carried in the pilot's arms, the finding of the well, the drawing of the water, with one's own effort, and finally this water is the product...

...and so it is that I think I may understand finally what Thich Nhat Hanh meant when he wrote "be present. A flower blooms beneath each of your steps."

"We walk, when we walk. we eat, when we eat, we breathe when we breathe."

Finally, in closing, a last bit from _The Little Prince_ to keep one remembering: " Good-bye," said the fox. Here is my secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." ... "It's the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important. ... People have forgotten this truth, ... but you musn't forget it. You become responsible for what you've tamed.
The Master doesn't try to be powerful;
thus he is truly powerful.
The ordinary man keeps reaching for power;
thus he never has enough.

The Master does nothing,
yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.

The kind man does something,
yet something remains undone.
The just man does something,
and leaves many things to be done.
The moral man does something,
and when no one responds
he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.

When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.

Therefore the Master concerns himself
with the depths and not the surface,
with the fruit and not the flower.
He has no will of his own.
He dwells in reality,
and lets all illusions go.