Streams of Light

18 10 2015

Light always transcends darkness.

Today was my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. 

We had a great time – a fantastic time and I’m so glad that we celebrated in style.

But a Bat Mitzvah is way more than a party – it represents a very long preparation to read from the Torah in HEBREW – without any vowels (which for those in the know, is a seriously hard task) and lead the service – which she did both Friday night and Saturday morning (the two main service times for the Sabbath which begins Friday evening and ends Saturday evening).

I couldn’t help think of that song from the 80’s (because EVERYTHING reminds of some song from the 80s) by The Godfathers: “Birth, School, Work, Death.” That song, as I recall, didn’t carry the most positive message and today was all positivity. However, I did seem to feel like all of life’s major moments were convening at once.

 Robyn is unlike anyone I know. Yes, I am biased because I am her dad and no, she is not without her flaws – of which we are working, as we are with her brother and yours truly. But, she is that sort of person who is thoughtful in her approach and deliberate in her action. She carries the intuitive insight of someone far beyond her years – and always has. As I mentioned to someone today, for years now, I would be having a discussion and then have to remind myself that I am talking to a 5, 7, 10 or 12 year-old.  

Reflecting on the pride and love you have for your kids – really having that opportunity outside of shuttling to field hockey or baseball games, doing homework, making dinner, pleading to pick up their clothes or just go to bed – that is a gift. I cannot speak for other parents, but while I can find myself nestled in moments of gratitude on a daily basis, it is different than sitting and watching your child do his or her thing for an extended period of time.

It is so humbling.

I put together a photo montage – one of those slideshows you can do through your Mac and add music to and just didn’t see the passage of time through those memories, but really felt it.  The feelings were overwhelming and only grew as the days grew closer to the big event. In fact, I couldn’t even write a quick speech to her without welling up. I had to do it after they went to bed late last night. 

Seeing a family that used to be – well, today was a death of what might have been but also a renewal, or birth of this incredible human journey unfolding before our eyes. It was so important for me to have family and friends, whether close or more distant, witness that, in fact, beauty resides and unfolds in the midst of challenge, in the face of uncertainty and despite the darker edges of reality that sometimes wake us up in the middle of the night.

It really is impossible to dim a light that wants to get in. I wish that we could all pay attention more to those streams of light that are fighting to sneak through the crevices and fan out to the masses. It’s a wondrous thing to see and it can take your breath away. 

Until next time,

Marc

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Matt Damon, Race and the Anal Probe

19 09 2015
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Actor Matt Damon attends

The Devil is in the Damon.

There was an apology followed by an enormous cadre of tweets.

That seems to be how it goes these days – if it can’t be said, redacted and commented on in 140 characters of less, you’re SOL.

Except, I come from a long line of talkers – real talkers. We can’t say hello in 140 characters. That’s where this blog post comes in.

For those of you who may not have seen the story – it pretty much goes like this: Project Greenlight, an HBO film project led by Damon, himself, and fellow bromancer, Ben Affleck, was the culprit this time. Damon apparently was caught “whitesplaining” (no, I am not making that up) the concept of diversity to a successful black woman producer (as if her success should have anything to do with it).

The guy apologized. I don’t know Matt Damon and I could be wrong, but he seems like the kind of dude I’d like to hang out with – not Affleck or Clooney, who also seem to make up his posse, but definitely Damon.

Here is where things get sticky for me, personally. 

In comedy, no one seems to care what race you are – they really don’t. Basically, it’s about being funny and even aside from that, being an “outsider”. I am so far from Hollywood that I can’t even think of a metaphor to describe it but what if, hypothetically speaking, you would like to have more friends or understanding of a community you are not part of? It’s not that easy. Take my word for it.

We have lots of discussions about race and I think I’m pretty much as open-minded and liberal as they get. That being said, I know that it is hard to establish deep ties with communities that you are not part of. It’s just the truth. 

Damon apologized and said he was grateful that it opened up a greater dialogue about diversity, blah, blah, blah. To me, the point is – are we looking for examples of exclusion or opportunities for inclusion? This is what I love about the comedy community. I have never, ever experienced that sort or inclusion, regardless of race, sex or creed anywhere else – not college, not work and certainly not in suburbia. 

It is a black thing -I can’t understand. Just like it’s a divorce thing, or a Jewish thing etc. But maybe we could all understand more if we didn’t allow this narrative of diversity to miss the point. We won’t be able to eradicate racism, sexism, or any “ism” if we automatically assume mal-intent. In other words, can we give somebody the benefit of the doubt? Ignorance is curable, if the participant is willing. 

I do a joke about being divorced and if you are not, it’s sort of like getting kidnapped by aliens and getting the anal probe. It sounds bad – really bad. It’s scary. But unless you’ve actually experienced it, well, you get the point.

In our conversation about racism, can we all get to the point where we move beyond assuming people can’t understand to the point where maybe they can at least empathize? Empathy goes a long way and sometimes I think we don’t take a long, hard look at what we are doing to keep others out – conservatives, liberals, socialists and others, alike.

I’m not sure this post makes sense or not. I guess what I am saying is that if you really are “open-minded” and want a community based on ideas, beliefs and positivity, then a good starting point would be to start to walk others into understanding what you have declared is not possible simply because they happen not to be born or raised in a particular way.

Makes sense to me. Though, truth be told, I think it’s a comic thing – you wouldn’t understand.

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks again for reading. I appreciate it. If you haven’t already, please consider enrolling to get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox through this site, email me at marckaye91@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @marckaye1. (Better yet, how about all 3). Also, through October 15, for every new follower I get, I will be donating $1 to Nechama, a disaster relief agency, in honor of my daughter who is raising money and awareness for this great organization for her Bat Mitzvah project! Thanks again, Marc





Rosh Hashanah, Natasha Bedingfield and the Art of Getting Off Your Ass

16 09 2015

Natasha - not a Jew but her words could be.

Natasha – not a Jew but her words could be.

(It’s a catchy title, I know.)

Tonight ends the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It is the year 5776 and if I could go back to year 1, I am pretty sure there would be a hieroglyphically-written blog post about the strange mix of apples, honey, indigestion and families having multiple conversations (all at increasing volumes) at the same time. There would also be something about “being inscribed in the book of life for another year.” 

On this holiday, Jews pray all over the world that God will see to it they are written and included in the “book of life” to see another year. Always on the verge of some sort of destruction, it doesn’t hurt to try to turn that frown upside down, I guess, even on what should be a celebration – a New Year. 

As a kid, I really did believe in this version of religion – that we had to hope and pray that we would live for another year, as would those we cared about. I understand the importance of believing in something higher than ourselves but the idea of some sort of Jewish Santa Claus making a list of who will get the gift of life versus those who will get eternal coal is a bit too much for me, not to mention, a bit too passive.

On the ride home from my parents’ house, the kids and I were in the car and my son assumed his usual role of “DJ of the car.” After stomaching several rap songs, all of which were not of the good “Beastie Boy/Run DMC” flavor, my daughter and I convinced him that he had to choose things we all could listen to, or at least take turns.

Half way through our ride, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, made it to the line-up. It’s a catchy enough tune. I could deal with it. This time, however, as part of my practice of trying to be more “in the moment”, I really paid attention to the lyrics. As it turns out, it’s not about tasting rain, which is all I ever really got subliminally out of that song. It talks about really embracing life on your terms. And in the lyrics? “Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.”

The immediacy of hearing about beginning a new book yet to be unwritten on the Jewish New Year was not entirely lost on me. If anything, I may have (and continue) to make a connection where none exists for anyone but me. But, hey, as you know from reading other blog posts, that’s sort of my thing.

I like Natasha’s version a bit better than the Old Testament one, to be honest. In the former, it feels like we have not much say as to whether we are going to be inscribed for a good year or not, other than the judgement of our actions from the past year. In the latter, it feels like we are given the chance to reflect and start anew and it is up to us to “get off our ass” (see where that fits in now?) and actually not wait for someone or something to help us.

This fits in nicely with a more recent blog post I wrote about a passage I had read from Pema Chodron. (See “The Positive Side of Hopelessness – May 4, 2015). To reiterate, she writes: “Theism is a deeply seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. It means thinking there’s always going to be a babysitter available when we need one. We all are inclined to abdicate our responsibilities and delegate our authority to something outside ourselves.”

I like the idea that we should not just wait and hope but start writing our own story. It is unsettling to have your book just begin and unwritten. For me, at least, it’s more unsettling to be a character in a story you had no part in at all. 

To all, whether it’s a New Year for you or not, here’s to starting your story. What will your first chapter be and when?

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks again for reading. I appreciate it. If you haven’t already, please consider enrolling to get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox through this site, email me at marckaye91@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @marckaye1. (Better yet, how about all 3). Also, through October 15, for every new follower I get, I will be donating $1 to Nechama, a disaster relief agency, in honor of my daughter who is raising money and awareness for this great organization for her Bat Mitzvah project! Thanks again, Marc








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