Some Experience

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Some. Experience.

A certain type of experience

I first remember having a certain type of experience in late 2007. Emmett is a wee-little one. Annie, not yet born. Jane and I are asleep in our bed. Sleeping as well as exhausted new parents sleep. 

The baby monitor alerts us to Emmett’s stirring. 

Jane nudges me, “It’s your turn.” Dutifully, I get out of bed, walk through the hall to his room, tend to my sweet boy, and put him back in his crib.

On the way back, I stop in the bathroom and tend to my own bodily needs. There, I see something curious. A bottle of red wine, uncorked, on the bathroom counter. 

Sleepy logic assures me this is to quench my thirst. Mouth to bottle, I take a large, throat-burning swig. Bad idea.

Back through the hall, back into bed, and back to lying next to Jane.

Her hand on my thigh shakes me gently. “Come on; it’s your turn,” she says.

“I did it. I just took care of him.”

“It’s your turn. Go.”

“I did. I just did.”

“No. You didn’t.” 

This is when I have the experience—the experience of realizing that Jane has never in our whole relationship appreciated me or anything I have done.

Of course, by the light of day, I will realize this is not true. But, at this moment, I don’t.

It amazes me, always, how quickly our memory of good turns done for us—even by loved ones—can vanish.

Some

“Men are…”

“Immigrants are…”

“Republicans are…”

“Prison guards are…” 

And, usually, what follows is not 100% true. While it might be that the majority of men, immigrants, republicans, or prison guards might share some characteristics, very few statements apply to all of them.

While including the word some makes life more complicated, it’s a word we must not omit.  

Some men, some immigrants, some republicans, and some prison guards. 

Some do and some don’t. 

Blanket generalities lead us to black-and-white, good-and-bad, us-and-them thinking. Which is dangerous.

Moreover, the world isn’t that simple. The dots in the yin-yang remind us it is hardly ever simply this or that.

Rumi’s poem “A Great Wagon” speaks of the sublimity that accompanies this non-concrete thinking:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”

doesn’t make any sense.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

Jane

The story about Emmett ends up like this.

While I am in bed, busy being mad at Jane for not appreciating me, Emmett cries again.

So, again, I leave the bed. 

Again I pass through the hall to his room.

And, again, I tend to my sweet boy and put him back in his crib.

This time, when I stop in the bathroom to tend to my own bodily needs, I notice there is no wine bottle. 

And, I realize, there never was.

I didn’t drink a mouthful of red wine from the bottle. 

It was a dream!

I had dreamed the first foray into Emmett’s room to change him.

Jane was right. I hadn’t left the bed. I hadn’t taken care of him.

As I return to bed, I laugh to myself. 

And, I know Jane will find this funny, too. But, as a good partner, I decide to wait until the morning to tell her. 

Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer resides in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and head of Religion-Outside-The-Box oldrotb.wpengine.com, an internet-based, global group of 3.3K+ digital-age seekers. ROTB produces excellent spiritual content.

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