Thursday, May 27, 2010

Even a tiny fraction of priceless is still priceless.


Today, I'm going to blog differently. Usually, I write well mannered essays or poems on Jewish spiritual themes that have universal application. Today, I'm just writing. I have feelings inside that need to emerge. A dear friend of mine suggested that I use my blog as a vehicle for this therepy. So whatever happens, happens!

I have this tremendous yearning to find my place in the world. My life is filled with people who have "nitched". They have become Rabbis, doctors, lawyers, teachers, graphic designers, etc. I somehow have not "nitched" out yet. Here I am in my early 40s, my first Grandchild just born, wondering what I'm really going to do when I grow up? What can I do to make a difference in the world? I have an employable skill. However, it does not seem to me to be much more than a meal ticket and even as a meal ticket it has not worked that great in the past decade and even less so in the current economy.

Our lives are made up of moments in time. Can any employer or customer really pay someone for a moment of his or her life? Life is supposed to be priceless. Even a tiny fraction of priceless is still priceless. So, really there's only one way to be compensated for devoting moments of life to a task. This is the joy of knowing that one have "nitched" into one's spiritual role in life. The task may be physical, but yet very personally soulfull.

Humanity is like a large body. Every human being is a cell on that body. As cells we are supposed to help the body grow. However, I feel like a lost unintegrated cell. I can sit all day playing on the computer without feeling an iota less accomplished or satisfied than if I spent a full day earning my meal ticket. Something's very wrong with this picture. It's probably not the way most people feel.

There must be a core goal underneath it all that my soul came down to accomplish. I wonder what it is, but alas to forum is too public for me to feel comfortable doing what some like Julia Camaron would call "morning journals" on. That needs more privacy. However, if you are a person like me who feels that the best eight hours of the day are too empty to be spiritually justified, maybe you should write morning pages too.


  1. You sound like I did. When I first graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I just got a BS degree. I worked for a while, while trying to figure out what I really wanted to do. I had two girls and still couldn't decide. In my early thirties, I went to respiratory school and became a registered respiratory therapist while still trying to decide what I was really called to do. I had no desire to get a doctorate, so life went on.

    Although I'm glad to be self-supportive, I've had no desire to be who the world accepts, as doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. and finally came to the conclusion that although I didn't want to sing the song of the world, God musta meant for me to just be a resp. therapist, while secretly still trying to find my calling.

    The professions the world looks up to are quite opposite (usually) of who God looks at as great. I believe He looks at the one whose heart is good and who builds up treasures beyond here on earth. So I now strive to do good, to love, to be kind, and to help those in need. Every person God sends my way, I help. As I write this, I'm baby-sitting for a prisoner's baby, the prisoner being a person I don't know or have never met. And the one who has custody of this child has never met the mother but will soon. I speak with the mother on the phone, and she's delighted with her baby's progress and super glad the baby wasn't put into the system.

    So I think love will cure everything, and I'm finally happy with myself for the most part. Singing the song of the world isn't for me although those great men can honor God as well.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your own story. It certainly provides a different window of opportunity to find a solution to this problem that many suffer from in the quest to do something meaningful with their lives.

    I guess what you are saying is, "Whatever you do, serve G-d and humanity by doing kindness."

  3. Dear Choni,
    Even the greatest of Rebbes had humble "ticket punching" professions like wood cutters, tailors, etc. This is not preferred but often necessary for people like us who love to study and teach Torah but must make a living.
    You are doing what you are supposed to do; right now; you teach our children Torah and Kabbalah and should probably offer an Adult Kabbalah course at the Shul. My grandfather from Berlin, Germany said in America you must know three skills well; the one you want to do, the one that makes you the most money, and the one that in the end will always put bread and butter on the table. I have always lived by his creed in making a living; and honing my skills in three different ways: medical, and the teaching of languages, history and religion.
    It is very hard to make a living; I struggle also. I am a single parent with no child support and the summers are especially hard. But each day...unexpected ways of gathering money manifest, through odd jobs, unexpected checks in the mail, people helping, or opportunities.
    Choni you are already doing what you are supposed to do: Teach Torah and Kabbalah; it is already manifested; now you must find a "woodcutter's job" to be able to continue your teaching.
    Once upon a time in my 20s...I was in Munich, Germany. I was frustrated trying to figure out "what I was supposed to be". I looked at my life: I was living in Munich, Germany working as an interpreter/interrogator for the U.S. Army and NATO and had a huge report backlog and lots of people to interrogate. I sat in my office and lamented....what was I going to be...was this to be the extent of my life: And then I heard my inner voice: Miriam this is what you are: you are talented at languages; you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. The gifts of Ha Shem are before plain view; look at your talents; look at the things that come easiest to you. And I had to admit, languages, religion and music were those things.
    At that moment I understood, i was doing what I should be doing; honing my linguistic skills, serving my country, and being a lingist/interpreter. Was I crazy to not be thankful for such skills. And on that day, I got it; I was where I was supposed to be.
    Now, my dear friend; you are where you are supposed to be.
    Just get the "woodcutter's job" to fund the rest.
    Kol Ha Kavod.....Miriam

  4. Dear Miriam,

    Very wise words. I sincerely mean it. It fits the way life tends to work. I guess my "woodcutter's job" is accounting. That is what I've been doing.

    However, what I still don't understand, is why when one has a main life calling does s/he still need a woodcutter's job? Shouldn't the calling which Hashem gives a person be enough to earn the livelihood, so that s/he could have the freedom of time and energy to pursue the calling further and even grow nicely in it?

    Think about it. A man comes home at dinner time from his "woodcutter's job". His family was looking foward to see him all day long. When he finally arrives, does his wife and children want to hear that now he needs to devote a few more hours to another project?

    See what I mean, unless, one makes a livelihood from his or her main calling, s/he won't be able to give it his or her best efforts and grow as good in it as possible because there's only so much time on the margins of the day to work with.

    What do you say?

    Thank you,