I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written here. Months in fact. I’m sure I’ll come up with some viable excuses at some point. It isn’t that I don’t want to write or that I don’t have anything to write about. I think about writing every day (pretty much). Some days I even sit down and begin two or three different posts. But for some reason I can’t seem to write more than a few sentences. I go through periods where I feel, well, for lack of a better word, unqualified to write a blog about my life. I know that may sound ridiculous. Who is more qualified to write about my life than me?! Maybe *unqualified* is the wrong word. What seems to be preventing me from writing right now (and this feeling has happened in the past when I’ve gone long stretches without writing) is a pervasive feeling of insecurity that borders on self-enmity. Stemming from a deep-seated fear of leaning toward a narcissism that might be hereditary. I am so terrified of becoming the narcissistic blabbermouth that is my mother, I’d rather not write at all. And even were it not to be considered narcissistic, pedantic people get on my nerves. And goodness knows I don’t want to be one of them either. As I find myself telling Nina frequently, “No one likes a know-it-all.” And really, no one does. Who do I think I am, some kind of life-expert, to be dispensing some kind of faux-fortune-cookie wisdom?! I am so inexpert at living my own life it is laughable to think I should write about it or that anyone would want to read about it. What could I possibly have to say about my own unskilled, in some ways rather pedestrian life that won’t make me cringe the next time I read it? And if I’m writing for others, what is it about my bungling maladroit misadventures that is even compelling?! I don’t know.
Still I feel directed if not destined to write, and even with all that said, I begin again. I’ve passed another *Kaleidoscope Life Anniversary*. Which neatly coincides with another anniversary of my birth. I may not be getting better at celebrating my birthday, but I am finding I’m getting better at being authentic about it, having a modicum of integrity with it. As it turned out, my birthday this year fell the day after Yom Kippur, a day on which I work a blistering regiment of 7 hours of standing to lead religious services that are sometimes beautiful and sometimes excruciating and even sometimes soulful. But no matter how meaningful the day is, I am exhausted at the end of it, wrung out and psychically threadbare. For the first time in 20 years, I had the wherewithal to follow the insight born of repeated failings, and take the next day off. Which, as I have already said, was my birthday.
My only intention was to have a quiet calm day. And to avoid being a big fat disappointment to my family (who always want to joyfully celebrate my birthday even though I always want to evade, deflect, ignore and reject any such offerings or suggestions). More than that I didn’t plan. I spent some of the day reading for pleasure and some of the day reading about bread baking. I coerced Ursula (my sourdough starter) into making a few loaves of bread. For my birthday, Emily bought me a marble slab specifically for kneading dough on, as well as a professional lame (a bread tool), to make those lovely decorative slashes on the outside of artisan loaves. Engaging in the creative process was, as always, invigorating. Like making soap, there is something in the chemistry (or is it alchemy?) of kneading dough that brings on a Zen-like state of being. The knowledge that this day’s bake was entirely for charity seemed to nourish my soul and elevate my spirit even more.
The evening of my birthday I’d promised one of my besties that I’d help her out. She’s one of those amazing, gifted teachers who teaches with her heart. A kid in her class has deaf parents and it was their back-to-school night and my friend wanted to make sure her student’s parents could participate and engage and feel welcomed. She asked if I’d help with communication. Sure, why not? Well, maybe because it’s your birthday and maybe you want to have a celebratory dinner with your beloved family? I thought about that before I said yes. And I was afraid Emily would be angry with me for choosing to be elsewhere on my birthday night. It isn’t that I didn’t want to spend time with Emily and the kids. And it wasn’t that I was simply avoiding celebrating my birthday (though I’m sure there was some of that involved). I told Emily that we could have a lovely dinner the following night (which was a Friday and we generally have a lovely and relaxed family dinner for Shabbat anyway). As it turned out, Emily was fine with my plans. That night was Nina’s back-to-school picnic (something I can barely tolerate) and Emily felt like it was birthday gift enough to let me not attend. I love how Emily really knows me 🙂 Anyway, I went and interpreted as best I could. My rusty signs notwithstanding, the family was incredibly grateful to be able to talk with their daughter’s teachers and take part in the back-to-school night more fully. Their joy at simply being included was contagious. I felt buoyed by their happiness as they basked in pride over their daughter’s work-ethic and accomplishments. All in all it was a perfect way to spend my birthday. I fell asleep that night happy, trying to put into words the important life-lesson I felt I’d learned. Something about not being put on this earth to celebrate ourselves, but being on this earth to journey with and be of service to others. I’ll have to remember that the next time I’m feeling down.