As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff.

The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled how you are about to be fooled. They might say “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…” and give you a sense of where the magic is going to happen. They hint at it. The general rule is that you don’t want your magic to be anything completely unexpected.

Surprises undo us. Most of us dislike being completely fooled. We don’t mind if a spoon bends, and we don’t mind if the signed card is now in a wallet — as long as we were somewhat expecting that to happen. We are comfortable with our expectations being messed with as long as we are expecting our expectations to be messed with. We do not like when things happen far outside our expectations.

The recent election of Donald Trump was outside of the expectations of a majority of Americans and many people throughout the world.

We don’t like to be fooled.

We don’t like the world to be other than how we want or expect it.

We dislike it a lot. We really don’t like the world not to conform to what we expect.

We ask the doctor, “Will this hurt?” We ask people who have been down the road before us, “What’s it like?” We seek all types of counsel to help us control, predict, and prepare for the future.

That’s what this newsletter is about. With regard to the spiritual-religious aspects of life, I help you make some better sense of this world. And, I push you, gently and with love, towards making it a better place.

You might remember an article I wrote about observation bias and how it might be keeping God out of your life – no matter what your understanding of the word gee-oh-dee is. Observation bias underscores this notion that we tend to see the world as we think we will see the world.  For example, if you are a teacher and you think a student in your classroom is “trouble,” you will see countless examples of that child misbehaving. If you think a friend is rude and  interrupts the flow of conversation, you will see that happen.

 

You should literally be astounded to realize that what you expect to see is almost synonymous with what you see.

 

What is it in your own world that you want to see?

Do you expect, like Eeyore, to see the world as bleak? Or do you expect, like Pollyanna, to see that the world is wonderful?

I awoke the other day with a quote by Martha Beck in my mind: “The repercussions of one person living in stubborn gladness are incalculable.” I was struck by the word “stubborn” and decided to spend the day in stubborn gladness – and it was a good thing I did, because the day started with news that caused us to scramble our plans so one of us could make it to a spontaneous protest.

If you want to see more love in the world, start looking for more love in the world, and you’ll see more love in the world.  If you expect to encounter wondrous things, there’s a much greater chance you are going to see wondrous things. If you are expecting to see a beautiful world, a beautiful world can be seen.  

Perhaps the universe doesn’t want to fool you too hard by making the universe anything other than what you expect. That’s how good magic tricks work anyway.

 

Meanie

Meanie

Meanie I wish she had been nicer. Her comments on my YouTube hurt. And, while I know her petulance made her look bad, it also still really really hurt my feelings. Let me start with some background. I am pretty fastidious about quoting my sources. It’s a rabbi thing....

Acceptance for the holidays

Acceptance for the holidays

I’ve just intentionally triggered the “not-being-prepared” collective nightmare within a group of adults. I feel their discomfort and defensiveness upon hearing my words: Let’s review our homework from last time. They didn’t have homework. How could they? Many I’ve...

Voltaire’s band

Voltaire’s band

LIFE AIN’T FOR COWARDS. GRIEF, LOSS, TRAUMAS ANDTRAGEDIES.DISAPPOINTMENT AND ANGST. SCAB OVER AND NOT FEEL?ORPICKED AT AND BLOODY? ME? I CHOOSE VOLTAIRE’S LIFEBOATVOLUNTARY BAND. “COMPTEZ QUE LE MONDE EST UN GRAND NAUFRAGE, ET QUE LA DEVISE DES HOMMES EST, SAUVE QUI...

Provincial, NYC.

Provincial, NYC.

It’s cold. Erev Thanksgiving. West 77th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, is closed off the night before tomorrow’s big parade. I’m 14 and running in the street with Robert, Dan, Michael, Richard, and John. We are tossing someone’s balled-up...

Coming of Age

Coming of Age

  My boy, my first born, turns thirteen on Monday. We will have a coming of age ceremony for him this weekend.   He will have a coming of age ceremony like the I had one when I turned thirteen. And like my father and my grandfather had. But unlike.   My...

Sabbath

Sabbath

Sabbath.   It’s late summer, Friday night dinner. Annie is at a birthday party. Just Jane, our 12-year old boy, and me. We sit on the patio in our backyard. Candles, a wine glass, and a challah I made. Jane made meatloaf.  Emmett and I look at each other knowing...

Self-Portrait Love

Self-Portrait Love

Spiritual Exercise   Make a self-portrait on an index card, a piece of paper, etc. *** I’m going to assume that you did a drawing, although my spidey-sense tells me that you didn’t. *** I want you to imagine a four-year old hands you a picture, drawn as well as a...

Being Loved

Being Loved

Being loved  I thought it was going to be a much rougher day for Emmett than it was. I guess it proves that you can’t really predict how people are going to react and the importance of quality time together. More than that, this story reminds me of a quote by Rumi –...

Few problems are solved by an email your in-box.


This is an exception.

40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

Wonderful! You did it. Look for an email soon! (Unless you want to work on your patience, of course.)