Monday, June 14, 2010

GNAGB, Again, Again

I am 47, and yet at the moment I am relating to people a bit older. You see the send off dinner for my colleague was at Dougies/Teaneck from 5 PM till 6:30. Dinner. There was salad and main dish and desert. Dinner. It was filling. The dinner followed a double header: one test proctored, one test taken by my class. I wrote about ten recommendations, down from my starting list of about sixty. Fourteen to go (not counting those yet to appear). At 3:30 I met my kind colleague Anthony Di Bartolo to ride over to the dinner (I went despite aveilut - as a tribute to Tony M). Then I rode and bussed and walked my way home, doing some errands and work along the way and turned in to bed at a little after nine. Dinner was done hours before. Dinner. It was time for sleep. And now at midnight I am up, here with my thoughts, my computer, and you.

The Rambam lived by the mantra he shared, "Take wisdom where you find it."

At last night's Tony awards, a crying Viola Davis expressed her affection for all the women who competed in her category and then said,"I don't believe in luck, I believe in the presence of God in my life."
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Recently I heard a single female get up their nerve and ask a long married woman what it's like. The veteran replied by listing many components of marriage and saying that in the end "it beats being single by this (marking an inch between her thumb and forefinger) much.'' (This thought, it seems, approaches the prospect from a utilitarian point of view, with G-d, and duty, and children aside.)

A couple of posts ago I shared some excerpts from rules for life. Here's one from the cutting room floor: If you see two people in an ongoing marriage and one seems pathological, the odds are the other has matching stuff.

Allen Wheelis said that there's no such thing as individuals, only fragments of families. That sentiment resonates for me, it all goes back to family. The two adult speakers at my school's annual graduations are the principal and the parent of a graduate. On this past Thursday night both speakers referenced their families, which is to say their own selves, in their words to the graduates.

The principal recalled when his oldest son graduated high school. He said he realized at that moment that his life would never be the same. And he reflected - beautifully - that just as a home is never the same once a child leaves, a school is never the same once a class leaves. He told the graduates that as they move on, and we few adults stay back in high school, they will be missed.

The key note speaker told the story of a young man who was selected by the Nazis to live. He saw that his friend of the same age was sent to the other line, to die. He left his lifeline and told the officers, "Maybe you didn't notice; he is the same age as me. He deserves to live too." You could call it luck or you could call it the presence of G-d in his life, this man lived to tell the tale.

That man was the father of the gentleman giving the graduation speech, the grandfather of one of our graduates. The speaker blessed the young men and women leaving the safe confines of high school to be like his father; to never live only for themselves, even when that meant risking their very lives. To me, a wow.

Good night and G-d bless
You, you, and you - and me too
Good night and G-d bless
All of the people I love
Actively and passively

2 Comments:

Blogger kishke said...

The veteran replied by listing many components of marriage and saying that in the end "it beats being single by this (marking an inch between her thumb and forefinger) much.''

But how would she know? Seeing that she's not single and hasn't been for a long time.

June 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Valid point - my guess is that she was talking about her memory/conception of her own experience.

June 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM  

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