expanding normal

Here we are, back to normal. Laundry needs to get done, the neighbors are still arguing, the smells of the fields in the daytime are blocking out the nighttime jasmine fragrance. It’s the day after all the holidays, and really, this becomes what matters most. What do you do when it is not subscribed how exactly to act?

It is known as שגרה here, routine. But the word שגרה reminds me of שגור בפיו, fixed in one’s mouth, often used to refer to someone careful about praying consistently so that the words of the prayers are always fixed in one’s mouth. In a way, being so in tune with the words that you don’t require any metacognition to pray, but just in flow. So this is the possibility of moving this time into fulfilling all the promises we made to ourselves since Rosh Hashanah and before (and always) to change. Make the words flow fixed in our mouths. But so yes, we need a lot of help. How to actually make the change? How not to fall back into the old routine? Do you plan?

I have a list of new to-do’s.

Here are the items on my new list:

buy new indoor plants for bathroom
put up bookshelves
buy bookcases
buy some kind of machsan for outside chairs/cushions
display family pictures–install glass small shelves in living room

Yes. For sure, these will make all the difference.

These aren’t necessarily new things, either; just a new list. Many of them are on multiple lists. You might note, for example, that bookcases/shelves have been on to-do lists for a year now while I’ve been not writing. Most of the books have found homes, but there are still too many sitting in the upstairs storage on plastic shelves that should be holding plastic bins, which in turn are sitting on the basement floor…

Which makes me think I do need to restart the book about how we place importance on things that I had been thinking about for the past 5 years…

Which is how perhaps I can re-find my voice, which has been quiet for at least a year…

I had injured my hand last year in a stupid stupid self-inflicted accident. It took a lot out of me emotionally; cutting me down, so-to-speak. I tried to slough it off, but it didn’t work as well as perhaps I thought I could. One of the results was my shutting up. I didn’t feel I had anything to say that was worthwhile. Nothing was fixed in my mouth, in other words.

I continued to observe; I took a lot of photos. It’s not a bad thing to observe. I have been watching how to frame things; in photos, in life. How we see things is often a matter of setting the boundaries.

Thinking in the box, as it were. (so-to-speak)

Such as buying plants for our bathrooms. We have a moisture problem, but lots of light, so embrace the possibility! Wabi-sabi and embrace the brokenness.

This past year I spent a lot of time out of the country. Out of my box. It was good visiting people and places, but it gets hard to be away.

I prefer to be in my own space. I love people coming to visit me. We had some visitors, but I hope to have more. That is why we wanted to have a big space, or big enough for guests. I hope I can make people feel comfortable while they are here. I know how much it makes a difference for me.

I see that thinking out of the box is how Donna Strickland, one of today’s recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics, describes her success:

When asked this morning about the groundbreaking discovery, Strickland said, “It’s thinking outside the box to stretch first and then amplify. Most people were amplifying and trying just to compress whatever they had amplified.”

What else is different? I know more deeply how fragile we are. The veggies we put in for the summer got attacked by nematodes, a worm I knew existed but never realized how much damage they can do. Best laid plants…

I have so much sympathy for Yonah and his gourd; I watched my gourds dry up and there wasn’t anything I could do after the fact. I sat behind Ari Fuld’s zk”l wife in synagogue last Shabbat in Efrat when we had come back from Australia. She was in her box and that I imagine brought comfort.

How do we stretch first and then amplify?

The charity box in the Abuhav Synagogue in Tzfat. Yes, that’s supposed to be a unicorn, which is the artist’s conception of the Tachash animal used in the Tabernacle, according to the Ari z”l, which represents the public’s need to donate in order to support the holy structures.

2 thoughts on “expanding normal

  1. So glad to hear you voice again, it has been much missed. You continue to inspire me, I finally burnt out my food processor that I got as a wedding gift and thought of you as I carefully got the sticky date-almond flour cookie dough off the blade( thank you for being there with me) We are traveling to Texas this Shabbat and so the wedding plans begin. Trying to avoid stress and not take anything personally. The holidays were tough, I had a lot of strange ailments that came and went and now I’m hoping for some changes too. My tomatoes are still growing and herbs and flowers, can’t wait for the cooler weather to do some cleanup. We are also replacing some windows and maybe even a new driveway. I have a mental list but maybe I’ll put on paper. Miss you Love you Thelma

    Sent from my iPhone Thelma Newberger-Hirsch tnh@designcoaches.com 617-759-6130



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