Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bruised But Not Beaten

On my way to Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday evening, I took a tumble-literally. I know that there are three stairs leading from my home into the garage, but I apparently decided that one was sufficient and completely avoided the bottom two. Consequently, I ended up with cuts, scrapes, and bruises from my right hip to my right ankle, a sore lower back, and a butt decorated with more hues than the indigo end of the colour spectrum. (For all of you long time Blue Jay fans, George Bell's butt has nothing on mine!!) For the most part I was incredibly fortunate. Aside from some obvious discomfort, I neither broke anything, nor did anything tear. I didn't injure my head and the only other thing of consequence that suffered measurable damage was my pride. I mention this Jack and Jill adventure not solely to elicit sympathy, (although a little bit of oohing and ahing from the peanut gallery wouldn't hurt at all!) but to share where I landed and how I think that it has some symbolic relevance. You see, I ended up, butter side down, smack dab in the centre of one of our blue box recycling bins. The backpack I was carrying, filled with my service music, siddur, tallit and song sheets, found a resting place in the green bin used for organic composting.

There is something strangely ironic about finding oneself amongst the recycling. It is almost as if the cosmos were sending me a message. While old ideas and thoughts can be comforting and easy, it often takes a grand leap of faith (or in my case, a tumble!) to venture into the new, provocative and unknown. The new takes work and practice and time. The old and recycled requires little thought or energy. The innovative needs planning and careful execution. The old appears unimaginative, uninspired and pedestrian. It seems to me that we all need to save ourselves from the recycling. We must continually challenge ourselves to try new and sometimes terrifying endeavours. We must never let ourselves become complacent or bored, lest we become boring. Building on the old to develop the new should be exciting, not frightening. We cannot allow ourselves to dismiss that which we do not understand simply because we are too lazy, too old or too nervous to learn anew.

There was also a strange synergy associated with the fact that my religious materials found their resting place amongst the organics. My personal conversation with God is inextricably linked with my being. It is a deeply internal conviction that I wouldn't presume to impose on anybody else, but my faith and my Judaism are living, breathing parts of me. It is that constant searching for religious truth in a modern world that has led me to push myself forward, even when life has been its most challenging, and complacency would certainly have been the easiest course to take.

It was almost as if my little slip down the stairs was meant as a little tap on the shoulder from the powers that be. Be more aware of the actions that I am taking; become more engaged in newness and freshness, lest I become obsolete, and recommit myself to personal and holistic growth. Landing on my ass was just about the best lesson I could have had this week.

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