Little problems can become bigger ones if we do not address them and work on them.
Little steps and actions can become bigger successes, if we keep moving forward, learning and growing.
Forgive the length of this post, and it’s deeply confessional nature. But it is essential, at least for me, as I put myself on a new path and a new journey, delving even deeper into Judaism. With the Chasidic New Year here, Chanukah coming, and the secular New Year rapidly approaching, I need to make changes, both big and small. And so… here it is…
I do not like myself. Or I guess it would be more accurate to say that I do not like myself at the moment, or I do not like the choices I have made, nor the path my life has taken. I am a pretty decent fella, but I dwell on the mistakes I make and have made, and it paralyzes me. Learning from mistakes and from the past is fine, but dwelling on them and being stuck in the past, and even worse, continuing to repeat those mistakes is deadly.
I have trouble letting go of even the simplest things, because they remind me of the bigger choices, or lack of choices I have allowed myself to make. I look at years and years wasted, and sadly, the pattern continues. I need to break out and break free.
Life Lessons In Judaism
Last night we just finished the JLI Course: From Worrier To Warrior, and it provided some tools to live a more fulfilled, G-d centric life… to become a G-dly Soul instead of a Natural/Animal Soul. I am going to attempt to change my path, because the same patterns I have fallen into are providing the same answers and the same results, and I am simply spinning my wheels, without career, without stability, and without true romantic love.
Until I truly love myself, I will not find the right person to love me. Until I am fully functioning, I will not find a fully functioning relationship. It is time to change. The past is the past. The future will be what it will be. And so, all I have control over is this very moment. All I have control over is the present.
The key is to understand that this “present,” this gift has been given to us by Hashem. For everything Hashem gives us is a gift. I must realize I am important, that I was placed on this earth for a reason, and I am here to make a difference in the world and in other people’s lives. I must truly embrace one of the most basic tenants of the Torah… to love others as I love myself. So love myself I must!Everything that happens to us is from G-d. We may not know why. We may not like it, but we must see that it is all for the good. There are those who can do this in the moment. That is not yet me.
There are some who can do this after the fact, but still in short order. This is not yet me. I dwell and I beat myself up, incessantly. And it paralyzes me even more. Sometimes I am able to see the good and I am open to this and try to be mindful, but success on a regular basis is as of yet still elusive.
But it is here, in the most elevated and enlightened way of living, that I strive to be and where I want to exist. For we MUST see that struggle and mistakes are opportunities to grow and learn.The Little Pipe – A Little Problem
My friend gave me a pipe, a tobacco pipe, and for some reason I cannot quite figure out, I believe it got tossed out. In a strange moment of whatever the opposite of mindfulness or consideration is I think I tossed it out. I am really not sure why. Even if I were not going to use it, it would have been a smart thing to have for an actor, for a costume, or for whatever. I think I meant to put it in a give away, but give the clutter I have, it went into a trash bag instead… or at least a bag that went out in the trash.
I smoke a cigar maybe once a month at the Chabad Mensch Nights I go to… and yes that is once a month too much. I know it is bad for me, and I hate the way my mouth feels the morning after, but there is something relaxing about it. And it just seems to fit with the Scotch and the camaraderie.
A Reminder Of The Past
But remembering an incident in the car when I was a kid should have me off of all tobacco products to begin with, and did keep me away until much later in life as a mid-life adult. In a strange twist of fate, I was in the backseat with my mother and grandmother up front. We happened to randomly (or not) pull up next to my Grandfather, who had sworn to everyone he gave up smoking. But there he was, smoking away. My Grandmother went ballistic; in a way I had never seen her do. In fact, that was the one and only time. She was crying and screaming and it is something that has stuck with me ever since. And I was very, very young at the time.The Bigger Lesson
But recently a friend had been smoking his pipe at Mensch Night with this insanely good smelling tobacco, so I thought perhaps a pipe would be fun again, and a good alternative to the cigar And that’s when it hit me. Where is that pipe??? I desperately searched room-by-room, pile-by-pile, and then had the uncomfortable realization and recall that it had been tossed.
It was a pipe. I shouldn’t be smoking. Maybe it was expensive, maybe it wasn’t. But tossing it out was a mistake, and I think, as small as a mistake it was, in the larger scheme of things, it highlights the bigger mistakes I have made. And so this little thing became something much bigger. It still bothers me. I feel stupid. I have yet to let it go. But this awkward and uncomfortable feeling has made it clear… things need to change.
The lesson here is that I probably should not be smoking… And certainly that I need to declutter… my brain, my life, and my heart and soul. There is a literal and a metaphorical decluttering that I need, and this, I suppose, is another lesson showing me that. Too often I am running around in a frantic panic looking for this or that. It does not serve me for the good.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
According to Dictionary. Com: “This phrase was first recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778, but the idea is ancient, found in Babylonian and Hebrew religious tracts.” Which is going to lead directly to my conclusion…A New Path And Journey
And so, I am picking a new path, one that greatly intimidates me. One that I was going to keep to myself, but I believe that sharing it here will hold me accountable, and hopefully, have you, our readers, chime in with ideas, thoughts support, camaraderie and perhaps, joining me on the journey.
Yesterday, I started the cycle of Tanya, where I will learn one page a day for the next year. I get the daily emails from Chabad.org and will attempt to do it on my own… The same goes for the big one… I am going to make an attempt to do the Daf Yomi, the 7 ½ year cycle where I will learn one page of The Talmud for a year. That starts on January 5th, I believe, and while I know it is better to do this one in a class, I am hoping to find online resources, classes, recordings, etc. Help me Sal and Nina!!! (The Accidental Talmudist) This way I can do it on my own and have a better shot at sticking with it.
And tonight I’m doing a class at Chabad Of The Conejo where the lesson is this:
“When things are broken, we try fixing them. And if we can’t fix them, we must learn to take the broken pieces and build something new out of them, something even better than before.”
And so my friends, I am starting my “rebuilding season.”
The goal is to get rid of these silly little things that I waste too much time on, and focus on the biggest thing of all… Hashem. The little things can become bigger, and this can be in the negative or the positive.
Even the smallest step forward is a step forward. And so, stepping onto a more Soul Centric Path, and into living a more G-d-Centric life is, I hope, the goal to my fulfillment. Let my G-dly Soul shine. And away we go.