This is happy

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I’m in the middle of this story

by Camilla Gibb

Poetic prose, tincture of loss, despair, joy, fullness, emptiness.

Belle oeuvre littéraire de la vérité et la beauté des êtres-humaines en croissance avec leurs propres douleurs, chagrins et peines d’amour.

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Latkes and Neuroses

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I “received” this hypothetical note from my Bubbie (grandmother), from the old country, whom I never met but who somehow lives in me.

Deh latkees its finshd. But deh cheeldrin camming chome dis veek, int zey vant chev latkees, soh, vee mekkin latkees agenn int chev partee mit frintz int deh cheeldrin int deer frintz tew. Latkees yew kin itt innytyme ass long ass deer frish. Eym mekkin beek challah int lats mor fuud. Chev eh goot challaday. Ey vish yew lats uff nachas [good wishes].

Luf, Bubbie

p.s. “All neuroses are an excuse for legitimate suffering.” Carl Jung

 

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What is peace?

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The word, ‘shalom’ which means peace, doesn’t mean the absence of complexity. Shalom, peace, isn’t simple.

Boxing day is my father’s birthday. Our tradition has been to pack a picnic and go to Montreal to celebrate. My father would be at his charming best with champagne and sweets at a family party we all loved. This year, for the first time, we’re celebrating in his absence with a small intimate gathering at my house. Together, we want to carry his memory forward without it becoming overwhelming.

Rabbi Kook said, “You think the word shalom means the absence of conflict. No, it’s the all-encompassing container for multitudes. Even things that contradict can be held in the vessel called peace, shalom. In fact, that’s the only way it happens. Shalom is a higher order of a previous level of complexity, the way Einstein might say: ‘problems don’t get resolved on the level at which they arise, but at a level above that.’” Shalom, peace, is that precipice from which we can hold many pieces, many of which we otherwise would not be able to hold.*

*David Ingber

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Asking for it

When headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, was arrested and removed from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry and Ron watched from underneath the invisibility cloak, horrified at the events.  Before he left, Albus looked right through the cloak, and said, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” The art of asking involves identifying what the question is, finding the right people to ask, and then asking, which seems simple, but sometimes isn’t.  Dumbledore was full of wisdoms:

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The question of why some people squawk at the slightest discomfort and others wait way late to peep is complex.  I’ve assessed myself as tending toward the latter end of the spectrum and now training in the art of complaining… the ask.  Some people are experts at it.  When you run into a skilled complaint/ask artist, notice, observe, perhaps lift a lesson or two.

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Empathy: A direct path

If you are moved by anything in this video, made by the Cleveland Clinic, you’ve just used your empathy muscles.

Imagine yourself appearing in this video.  What would the caption read?  How would it feel to see yourself like this?  Would you treat yourself differently?

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Something you need to know…

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She was thirteen with the confidence of someone older. She put her arm around me, leaned in, and said, “There’s something you need to know about life. When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.”

Thank you, my 13 year old daughter. That was several years ago. She’s taught me many things since.

When I was 13, I said something my father responded to, which I didn’t hear. I asked him to repeat. He hesitated, then said, “I have nothing to say.”

“But I heard you say something,” I said.

“If I have something to say, I’ll say it,” he said.

That’s when I learned you can’t pull words out of someone’s mouth. You can’t make someone speak to you or show a part of themselves they don’t want to share. I can invite and be receptive to others’ freedom of expression, and let them know my truth in the way the moment allows.

In celebration of an expressive man:

The cutting edge

the cutting edge

a French gentleman says

is where your language meets mine

we joke in English, and blague in French

and enjoy good food and wine

 

les expressions de la langue

l’énérgie des mots

prend forme dans les paroles quotidiennes

et câche dans nos jeux

 

He cooks up dinner

Makes us coffee

And so we are mutually fed

On trouve l’essence

dans le moment

in my french translator’s bed

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Shades of Gray

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I didn’t want this. I untied my raft; it released onto the water. I bobbed, unmoored, kneeling on the 4 x 4 foot frame before letting out the rope, slowly, as I incrementally drifted away from the dock. I floated toward the sea, accepting the inevitable challenges. I could hear my breath, feel my chest rise and fall, feel my pulse, but I barely knew my own name. The raft wobbled on the gray rippling surface of the water. Thick gray cloud covered the low hanging sky, surrounding me. My gaze relaxed as I turned toward the sea. A smudged horizon loomed invisible in the indeterminate distance. I didn’t know where I was or where I was going in this intense neutrality.

The rest of my life looked normal. I worked, bought groceries, asked questions, answered when spoken to, did yoga, smiled, laughed. But an endless, ominous, null space occupied me that felt empty, empty, empty, without bearings or workable tools. There was no ground, no sky, no limits, no science, no time, or existence beyond this moment. The world made no sense. I felt frightened and utterly alone. Each breath defined the next moment, excruciating, slow, gruelling. I couldn’t see my own goodness and depended largely on others to validate my best attributes and efforts.

Despite the dense grayness, I felt kindness. Kindness, encouragement, love, acceptance, reinforcement, and others’ wisdom became discernable guides that lit the way through the fog towards clarity and greased the wheels of a better life.

A call to inhabit intense emptiness, a no-thing-ness of free fall and deconstructed identity, was the beginning of healing. This terrifying trip that I didn’t want, eventually, with willingness, perseverance, and surrender, opened to passages leading to abundance, grace, and joy.

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