April 10, 2009

Questions and Answers

It is a bit after midnight on Thursday evening and I am trying hard to unwind. It has been quite a week. If you asked me to explain I'd say Consonance and Dissonance. I'd say that at moments I have felt as if everything is about to fall into place and there have been times when I have been certain that I am about to go over the precipice, hurtling ass over elbow into the abyss.

It is an interesting dichotomy, this feeling of complete control and a lack thereof. If I had to attribute anything to it I'd say that I have been forced to accept that I don't have control of some things. Now it is a matter of faith and that is something that is hard for me to do. To just let go and say that you'll see what happens isn't easy, but sometimes it is what you have to do.

When I was a child I thought that every adult was happy. From my perspective I saw people who didn't have to go to school, who had money to buy whatever they wanted and could stay up as late as they wanted to. And let's not forget that no one told them what to do, they were grownups and had a life a million times better than my own.

That is not to say that I had a bad childhood, I didn't. It was good. We were a happy middle class family. I have many good memories. But like I said as a child I had my ideas of what life would be like and how it all would be.

Now I look back at the past six years or so and I see an enormous amount of change in myself. In so many ways I am the Jack that I have always been and in others I am very different. Change has always been something that I have been slow to accept. It has always been easier for me to go at my pace and then just ease into things.

But if I stop and really think about it, if I elimate the cacophony of the chaos around me I realize that many of the changes have been good. So many of them have helped to make life better. In short it is a long winded way of saying that I am very clear on what it is that I want and what it is that I need.

The bigger issues are those that surround how to get to the place I have been searching for. It took a long time to identify those things and I am a bit uncertain about how to make them happen. This is one of those times where I shake my head and think about how sometimes life feels a bit backwards.

At twenty five I was completely unencumbered. The future was wide open and I could envision myself doing anything. Fifteen years later I can't look at it from a completely selfish perspective. Now I have to account for other people. Now I have to consider what sort of impact the decisions I make will have.

So this brings me to the point where I mention that my son and I had a discussion about life and change. I told him many things, but for now I'll only share two with you.

1) I told him that I wanted to really work hard in school and to work extra hard in math.
2) I told him that change wasn't something that we had to fear and that if we learn how to go along and get along we'll all be much happier.

He nodded his head and told me that he would try and that made me very happy because all we can do is try. As I said on Twitter I would rather try and fail than to never try at all. And then because it tied in with our discussion I brought up Moshe and how he too had tried and failed.

How is that for a segue into talking about the seder.

A family gathering is an experience that I can't adequately explain. There is noise, there is chaos, there is confusion and all sorts of other fun stuff. There are stories about the painter with the wooden leg, the handyman who lived in the shed and other shared memories about those who aren't around anymore.

As it worked out my grandmother was hospitalized Sunday night and unfortunately was unable to make it. She'll be 95 next week. More on her in a moment.

I did my best to try and include the children as I knew that their attention spans would only last so long.

The dark haired beauty decided that she only wanted to know if Haman was worse than Pharoah. Her older brother wanted to tell me everything he knew about Pesach, but only in a voice slightly louder than a whisper. My youngest nephew is a week short of three and has an ear infection.

Between his age and the infection he was more than a little squirrely, but what really got him angry was not being able to sing with my kids. It wasn't a matter of his not being allowed to, he just didn't know all of the songs.

My grandfather sat next to me and told me how proud he was of my taking over. In between he told me how much he missed my grandmother and that he couldn't remember her missing a seder. They met when they were 11 and were married at twenty, just a few months until they celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary.

At the far end of the table I could see my parents staring at me. A couple of times I heard my mother whisper my name to my father. I saw her smile and I knew that she was proud of me. But this time I realized that I understood the pride in a different sort of way because I feel that same way about my children.

This afternoon I went to visit my grandmother. She is still pretty sharp, but her memory has softened quite a bit. We had a nice visit and talked about many things. I told her that we missed her at the seder and talked about how her great-grandchildren had asked if she could come just for that.

She smiled and took my hand in hers. A moment passed and she laughed and told me that I don't have a hand like a little boy anymore. I smiled back and said that I supposed that she was right.

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