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Quote for Thought: Gone is Gone

28 Dec

If you’re missing me, I want you to know that I am not missing you. Gone is gone. I never miss anything or anyone because it all becomes a lovely memory. I guard my memories and love them, but I don’t get in them and lie down. You can even make stories from yours but they don’t come back. Just think how awful it would be if they did. You don’t need me now. You’re…old enough to get busy at growing up to be the person you want to be.

— Ole Golly, Harriet the Spy

Isn’t it amazing how children’s literature has some of the best mind fodder out there? It amazes me. Why perilously pour over the complexities of Homer or the woefulness of Hawthorne if you can get solid, applicable advice from Harriet the Spy? Just saying.

And it is from Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy that I bring to you an outstanding piece of chizuk. The above quote is what I think should be the experienced dater’s creed. For those of us who haven’t found the RD in the first, second, third (fourth, fifth…must I go on?) person we’ve dated, the whole experience can be a bit disheartening at times. It’s not even the one-and-dones that are bothersome, or even the two-and-dones. Some matches are just not meant to be. However, once you’ve gone out a few more times than that…you start to get to know the person, you let them get to know you and even have a few inside jokes…you start hoping for the best. And whether it’s you who ends it or them, there is disappointment involved. The broken-up-with is left hurt and the break-upper is left with the guilt of causing that hurt (and will always have to live with the knowledge that they ended the relationship). No one wins, my friends. Not in the short-term.

But in the long-term, you have to believe that you are a winner. You formed a relationship with that person for a reason. It may not be clear why right away, but you must believe that it started and ended for the best. In the above quote, Ole Golly, Harriet’s most trusted confidante and nanny since her birth, tells her the hardest thing a person could hear: I’m not missing you. Despite the numerous, incalculable days they spent together, their time is up. Those days are gone. Gone is gone. The relationship will never be the same and that is just the way it is.

The memories though…those remain. Ole Golly guards them and loves them but does not get in them and lie down. Memories of a past relationship can be remembered fondly. They can be retrieved with esteem and admiration, but they won’t bring the relationship back. The relationship is over for a reason, though you may not understand why. The bottom line is, that person realized that thy don’t need you now–and you don’t need them. Whether intentionally or not, they freed you to be the person you want to be, whom you will be able to be with your RD, please G-d.

So my fellow RD Searchers, do not fret. Don’t let lovely memories become catalysts of sorrow. Appreciate them for what they are. Take them out every once in a while, smile with them and then put them away. G-d gave you that experience for a certain amount of time because that is all you needed. Now He’s giving you the opportunity to learn from them, grow some more and make yourself ready for the next person. No one is perfect. No relationship is perfect, but bhsaa tova, Hashem will bring you to the person who will mutually feel that a life together is perfect in a way that the dictionary definition of perfection could never defend.

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Quote For Thought: “I’d Say the Only Thing…”

16 Feb

I’d say the only thing that each day has in common, the only thing that is consistent in my life is the thought of you. And… it’s absolutely mind blowing…that after all these years and all these changes, You’re the only Existence my soul knows is true.

 

 

Girls Will Be Girls

6 Dec

Boys will be boys, and even that wouldn’t matter if we could prevent girls from being girls.

— Anne Frank

 

You tell me what this  quote has to do with the current surge of Maccabeat mania.

Quote For Thought: The Ladies Grieved…

4 Nov

“[He] was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a large number of ladies; but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing that, instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters and a cousin.”

— Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

Seriously, this line made me laugh out loud. I chuckled like a cheetah, howled like a hyena and guffawed like a …snuffleupagus  Is this not every USBG I go to? Every vort? Every wedding? Every NCSY/Yachad/Bnei Akiva/shabbos table/shiur/charity event/Camp reunion/ debate/timeIstepfootonto185th? C’mon, even if you and I are not thinking about the “possibilities” at each of these occasions, how much would you bet someone is? I’d put my caf card on such a probability. Any day.

There is no need apply lengthy, windy prose to this actuality – when the number of women exceeds men at a USBG, the hopes of some women are tragically deflated. When, miracle of miracles, there are equal or more men than women…I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a lady or two pull out their siddurim and recite Nishmat. Thank You, O G-d for saving us from the drought of our days. We were starting to believe that our chosen fate is that of spinsters.

I’m sorry, I know I’m exaggerating the reality an eensy, beensey bit, but the similarities between 19th century English society and our Orthodox society are undeniable. The emphasis on numbers and dissemination of cockamamy, hackneyed ideas is clearly present in both scenarios. I merely laugh because if I do not, I will cry. We can be so shallow here in the West, so feeble-minded. I say if everybody is bored and dissatisfied enough with their lives to rag on about others then we should all go to Sderot or Chevron and give a helping hand.Nothing makes you grateful like a few bullet holes in the side of your trailer.Then again, maybe I’m being  judgmental, so I’m going to stop right here.

Shabbat Shalom to all!

Quote For Thought: “Love Life…”

15 Oct

I find that if you love life, life will love you back.

— Arthur Rubinstein

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated math. Actually, Coral the high school student would have argued that it was indeed math that hated me (us?). No matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t get it. It didn’t matter if I spent my entire lunch period being tutored by my teacher or if s/he gave me “tricks” to cut down the number of steps. It didn’t matter what track I was in– math and I became sworn enemies; sealed by fate and destined for eternity.

Or so I thought.

You see, I knew there would be a point where math and I would have to meet up again. I triumphantly dodged it in my senior year of high school, seminary and the year after. I even applied to Israeli colleges, not so much because I liked the schools, but because I knew as an English Linguistics major, they would never make me take math again. However, as passionately as I love the indubious preciseness of syntax and phonetics, I didn’t want to be a Linguistics major… and as much as I hated math, I wasn’t about to become a Music Major*. So with my decision made, I knew that I had no choice but to face my sworn nemesis again. It was only a matter of time.

The day came when I had to prepare for the math placement exam at my college. If I had to revisit my longtime tormentor, I was going to meet him ready to fight. My weapon of choice– the Cliffnotes Math Review for Standardized Tests. My mentor– yours truly. I took out my  review book and notebook at every chance I got. I was doing math during my at breakfast, during work, after work; even Sunday afternoons. There was no stopping me. I knew that if I wanted this grievous science of numbers and their operations out of my life for good, I would have to know it like I loved it.

And it was during this time that the strangest thing began to happen. You know those chick flicks where the main characters start out hating each other but as the movie progresses they fall in love (i.e. The Swan Princess)? That’s what happened to me and math. As I began to understand its functions and noticed how it was teaching me to think in organized, thought out steps I began to like it. And once I began to take a math course in college, I found that I didn’t just like math, I loved it.

I don’t love it because I’m suddenly much better at it. I spend an average of two hours on my math homework and another two reviewing what I previously learned. Thankfully, I have a patient and resourceful teacher as well as a tutoring center with really great hours (and great tutors), so when there is something I really don’t get, I have helpers to guide me. There are still times I have to refer back to my review book I bought all those months ago, because honestly, the textbook doesn’t make much sense to me. But the reason I love it now is the same reason I hated it most of my life: it challenges me to be more. It asks me to show what I’ve got and I’ve seen that with hard work, I have a lot more patience, stamina and ability than I ever thought I had.

It’s the same with life.

Life challenges us. We’re not here to be comfortable, we are here to achieve. We might look at people who have it tough, sometimes ourselves, and think, “Wow, life must really hate them/me.” There is no denying that some people seem to have harder challenges than others. But don’t think for a second that life loves those who seemingly have less challenges than those who have more. Life loves us, which when looked at from a Jewish perspective means G-d loves us. And though I can’t explain to you what it means for G-d to love us, I know that it is truth. When we shut our eyes to challenges in an effort to make them go away, our anxiety increases. Instead of surpassing the roadblocks we trip over them, because we aren’t allowing ourselves to see. When we shut our eyes to challenge we not only block out the hardships, we block out the opportunity to become greater, stronger individuals. When we face life and its challenges with open eyes, an open heart and an open spirit, the factors that were once so obviously our enemies become our mentors. When we view life this way, when we love it for the immeasurable opportunity that it is we are able to see that not only does it love us back…but it has loved us all along.

Have a Restful, Tranquil and Simcha-filled Shabbos!

 

 

* No offense to Music Majors. I’m just not good enough at music to major in it. Why I even applied to the music department is another story, but that is for another day :).

Carlebach On Soul Mates

31 Jul

There’s a teaching from the Ishebitzer Rebbe in the name of The Seer of Lublin in the name of Eliayhu HaNavi that says: When you really want to ask someone for forgiveness with all your heart, you can bring them back from The Other World…But if works for love as well. If you know with all your heart that your soul mate is in this world, then your great love will bring you together from the far corners of the globe.

This is the miracle of how soul mates meet. I bless us all that we should find our soul mates. LeHaim!

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (from “Shlomo’s Stories” p. 95)

What makes two people bashert? How is it possible for two people to “just know” that they are meant to be one? Because when two people want to make a relationship work with every ounce of their life’s breath, when two people put in all their heart, all their soul and everything they’ve got, then time and space become mere pebbles along the way . What once might have appeared to be tremendous boulders are easily trampled by the steadfast pact these two souls have made. Is it G-d’s will that makes a couple bashert?  The only way to get a proper answer for this question is to bolster it with another question– what is the definition of bashert? Is it simply bringing two people together or is it creating a lifelong relationship?

If the answer is simply bringing two people together, then of course Hashem is totally in control of our bashert. He is in control of everything, this aspect are of our lives included. However, there is one area in our lives that He does not take the reins, and that is in whether we become tzaddikim or…not tzaddikim. Whether we choose work on ourselves every day of our lives, or whether we choose to proclaim– “this is who I am, and that is final.” The only way for two to become one is for each individual to shed his identity as an individual and join as one entity. It takes more than the Divine will of G-d. It takes passionate yet bridled strength of the heart; two people who want to be together with every ounce of their life’s breath. Two people who will not allow the nisyonot of the world to come between them. As much as I praise and applaud rationality and practicality, I do not underestimate the power of love. I am well aware of its immense power; how it inspires one to overcome every obstacle with vigor and might. When you want something badly enough, when you know unwaveringly that it is real and true, Hashem bends the laws of His world in ways we never before fathomed. Hashem brings us to our basherts, but it is us who keeps our marriages bashert for the rest of our lives.

Place Collecting

22 Jun

I like collecting places.

I know what you’re thinking: Coral, how can you collect places?

To find the answer, you must take a peek inside my head. I’m not sure if other people see life this way, but the only way for me to find out is to share this facet of my ambidextrous mind.

When I find a special place, I write it down in my journal. Pictures just aren’t the same. Photographing places with words enables me to live the moment again; to see it, smell it, taste it, hear it and touch it. To feel it. Not with my senses, but with my heart. Images cannot stir this feeling, nor sounds nor smells alone. It is the whole that illuminates the heart. As Gestalt would say, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each part by itself is pleasurable, but when you put them all together…what you have is magic.*

Some of my favorite places that I have collected over the years are:

1) Cape Cod in the summer; cozily cramped in a cottage just minutes away from the water. And those sunsets…feet comfortably snug in the white-and-gray sand, tall grass swaying to the soft, mellow song of dusk’s winds, watching the glowing, fading hues of the sky dip into the bay.

2) Eldorado Mountain in the spring; tepid winds and radiant sunshine, snow capped boulders and blossoming wildflowers, existing together side by side beyond the scope of the usual. But how can one expect the usual when gets the chance to see miles and miles of Colorado State?

3) The forest behind my former sleepaway camp in Upstate New York. Whenever I needed to clear my head or just felt like taking a few moments to appreciate the little things, I’d run to forest behind my camp, plop myself down on a rock and sing to the trees. I was a kid after all, and a very dreamy one as well, but sometimes, when I turn back to my memory of the canopying trees and the mossy, piney smell that floated on the wings of the wind, tranquility fills me and transports me back to that contented, peaceful feeling.

4) Doing flips off the deck onto a snow covered trampoline. Other kids couldn’t understand why I looked forward to going to Montreal for winter vacation. I saw it as my best kept secret.

I have so many more, but with my bedtime steadily approaching and sleep welling beneath my eyes, I would like to mention one place, a new place I have added to my collection.

I found it today as I made my way toward the OU office on Broadway. I’ve been to the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side and Midtown. I’ve taken the 1 all the way up to 181st and all the way down to the Ferry. I’ve braved the Q and and the B, hopped the 7 and the R (okay that was by mistake), but never had I taken the time stop and look at just how beautiful Downtown Manhattan is. I had been to South Street Seaport, but my mind wasn’t in the right place to appreciate what was around me. Yet today, I was overwhelmed my the aesthetic comeliness of the area.

But what was it that made it so beautiful?

The tall, majestic buildings.

The piano available for anyone and everyone to play on in Battery Park.

The easy accessibility to the same sight my ancestors saw when they first arrived to this country– Lady Liberty.

Not having to go to Midtown to get kosher food (thank you, Cafe 11!!).

Having the option of taking the Staten Island Ferry, a favorite pastime of mine.

Strolling through the sunshine, noticing other Jews along the way. Seeing other Jews makes me happy, even in the Jew capital of the Diaspora.

There were many factors that made this day a remarkable one, and the truth is, even if I stayed up all night trying to recall all of them, I would still be unable to convey to you just how wonderful it felt to be in that place at that moment. So for now, just take Gestalt’s word for it. Take it and run with it. Start your own place collection, if you haven’t already. Go out there, enjoy the sunshine, the scenery and all the parts that make the sum of G-d’s world so, so wondrous.

*Idea taken from author Wendlin Van Draanen.