There is a community pool near our house where my family goes a lot during the summer. We splash about and enjoy the glorious Portland summers. Recently, while there, listening to all the kids playing and shouting something spiritual happened to me.
Something spiritual happened that sucked all the joy out of me.
It was some of those moments in which visually and auditorily, everything just changed. It was a real-life, real-time moment like in the movies when the camera zooms in on the main character, the sound is muted, and the camera goes into slow motion.
But, this wasn’t a movie. It happened.
The laughter of the children dimmed. My own children playing only a few feet away from me seemingly were moving slower. I could see every splash in the pool in vivid detail. It was a time-warped moment where I saw with horror the future suffering of all those in the pool.
I foresaw the loss that was going to happen someday. I became poignantly aware that all of the parents will one day die, then, God-willing in this order, the children will die too.
Everything will be lost.
My joy took a sudden backseat to the stark reality of life.
At that moment I did not feel like the weight of the world was on me, but that the clarity of the world was in me.
Rabbi Simcha Bunim wrote that each of us should hold two pieces of paper in our pockets at all times. On one should be written, “For me the world was created.” And on the other, “I am but dust and ashes.”
Adults can hold two opposing ideas in their heads at the same time. It’s one of the joys (and at times frustrations) of being an adult. We can see both/and.
This week’s spiritual advice:
One of the prices of joy is sadness. Sadness is the flip side of joy. As adults we know that we can’t have one without the other.