The side-of-the-road experience
We are engaged, not yet married. Her white Honda civic climbs the pass between the Angeles National and San Bernardino National Forests.
Making our way to a weekend in Las Vegas.
Something feels wrong.
“It’s stopping, the car, stopping.”
“I can’t use the gas. I have no gas.”
“OK, I’ll push,” I say as I unbuckle. “Just steer the car until we get on the shoulder.”
Cars woosh by until a giant black semi shields us from getting hit.
We are safe. Off the freeway. I wave towards the truck. He toots two quick toots.
Jane, “I’m ok, I’m ok, I need to put the car in park, I’m ok, I’m ok.”
To ease her tension and my anxiety, I joke, “Well, sweetheart, that was exciting.”
“And, fortunately,” I say as though everything is fine, “there’s a call box right here.”
Under the tow vehicle’s flashing lights we both remark about my calm in the storm.
And, then, something changes.
My legs buckle.
I’m on all fours on the side of the road throwing up all the terror I had shoved down.
Jiddu Krishnamurti, a late-20th century sage, wrote:
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
A person should not feel well adjusted in an abusive relationship. Or spiritually abusive religion.
A person should not feel well adjusted if minorities are hunted.
A person should not feel well adjusted to consumerism.
A person should not feel well adjusted during a global pandemic.
Dialogue with myself
“How are you?”
“No, you’re not.”
“OK, I’m pandemic fine…Well enough, I mean, I’m OK…How about this: I’m not not OK.”
“You’re not OK. You’re on the side of the road, thinking you are fine. You aren’t. It’s not likely that you’re fine. Brian. A few months ago your world was normal. A few weeks ago? Enter Twilight Zone. Routines disrupted. Summer plans? Cancelled. Permanent staycation. You aren’t fine. Magic camp is cancelled, for God’s sake. You aren’t OK. You don’t know how many more people will die. You don’t know if you’ll see your mother again, alive. You are not ‘well enough.’ It’s a fucking global pandemic and you want me to believe you are well adjusted?”
“Fair. Fair. Let me say this: I’m doing ‘well, under the circumstances.’”
“Sounds like deflection. Which is OK. Maybe you need to wait until there is greater certainty (the tow truck) until you can relax enough to deal with your trauma. That’s cool.”
“Well, if I’m being honest, It’s been rough… we hit some pockets of turbulence. It’s scary. I mean, there are moments I’m scared.”
“I hear you. I get scared. We all do. And, being scared is unpleasant. And, thank goodness the sensation is unpleasant. If fear were pleasant, we might run towards danger!”
“This global shift is the biggest set of uncontrollable changes in my life so far. Of course all the uncertainty scares me. I have a right to my not-well-adjusted experience of it.”
Loved in the our vulnerable places
B.C. (Before Covid) I went for tea with Ron, a minister friend in Portland. He referred casually to Luther’s theology of the cross. He spoke as though it was something I knew.
“Can you explain it simply?” I asked. “We Jews don’t learn a lot about Luther except what a flaming anti-semite he was.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“So let’s trade. What’s Theology of the Cross?
“Luther’s idea, simply, beautifully, is this: God meets us and loves us in our most vulnerable places.”
“That is simple. And beautiful. God loves us especially in those places we need the most love.”
“Luther was an antisemite?!”
“Yeah, wrote tons, books!, about how Jews could be fairly hunted and killed.
“I like what you shared better.”
Let them be like God
It’s hard to imagine being loved in our vulnerable places. They are vulnerable places, after all.
That’s why Luther equated it with God’s love.
Healing is holy. Miraculous.
We step towards healing when we are at our most honest. Not at our most well-adjusted.
And, when we offer another our humanity to witness, we give them them chance to be holy and love us.
Why we don’t fly, a Passover story Cohen and I chat about once a week, usually on my evening walk with the dogs around my beautifully maintained 1940s NE Portland neighborhood. We chat about life, how we miss our deceased parents, his dating life, my parenting...
On today’s RABBI BRIAN’S CHATS WITH LARRY The Tuesday night Stained Glass class where our friendship formed Larry’s school years The book called “Transcend” that I sent to Larry Why ministers don’t have a lot of friends How the current generation is more open-minded...
Fresh Fish Sold Here Today I remember a magician in the 1980’s unfurling and holding up a paper banner with the words “Fresh fish sold here today” printed on it. The magician would say, “I find this phrase a touch redundant. Fresh? Of course it's fresh fish. The sign...
Laughing at as many incongruities as possible It's a Tuesday night. We just had tacos. We do Taco Tuesdays probably more than two weeks a month, if we kept track of it. But it could be any night other than Tuesdays. Because we aren't that uptight about stuff. The kids...
On today’s RABBI BRIAN’S CHATS WITH LARRY How much liberty do you require, how much community do you require? (Individual freedoms vs belongingness to a group) Boundaries maintenance “Do we have too much excessive psychic stimulation?” What do we mean by God? If we...
Podcast:The Saturday Service February 13, 2021 Podcast Notes The Saturday Service --08:00-0:8:10 Reports from the committee dedicated to watching the mud settle.08:10-08:20 Edutitarg, Backward ways of doing gratitude.08:20-08:30 "No one heals themselves by...
Podcast:The Saturday Service February 6, 2021 Podcast Notes The Saturday Service --8:09-8:22 shake the mud8:23 review of spital life8:28 wave to face book8:29 so many ads—graitude8:45~5 advantages of being senseYelling + tutoring. Shapeable as a block of...
Podcast:The Saturday Service January 30, 2021 Podcast Notes Saturday service with rB and Toni Anne! Try a little Tenderness. - Otis Redding Quote: True friends celebrate your successes. 00:00 - 05:49 - Greetings and rB story about magic camp. Introducing Toni Anne...
Dad and I went on our third father-son road trip in 2002. This one was in a rented RV. We leave LA, drive east, pass Palm Springs, and go south to Niland, by the shore of the Salton Sea—a huge unswimmable lake of salt, rotting fish corpses, and runoff fertilizer. From...
My friend Michelle sits four feet feet away from the stainless-steel fire pit in my backyard. I’m on the other side, also four feet away. We are having a small, Covid-safe inauguration celebration. We are drinking G & Ts with Hendricks, a fancy tonic, and slices...
The 77% Weekly
Try for free. Always free. Directly to your in-box.
intelligent wisdom. real + funny. about life
Enjoyed by 1,000's of people. 40/52 weeks a year.
WITHOUT SIN MY PEOPLE My people don’t do the original sin thing. We don’t grow up with this doctrine. We know about guilt; we’re Jews. My people create guilt masterpieces. But original sin—a human construct upon which many lives are unduly influenced—is far darker...
Emotions 101 Emotions are feelings. They happen naturally. Emotions are our response to being alive. As we are human–alive and awake–we have interactions with the world, and we experience emotions. Expressing emotions in a healthy manner is the...