This may sound absurd to the average modern American, motivated so by a glimmering world of opportunity, identity and overall oblivious sense of self:
I often find the idea of doing anything beyond basic kindness and self-serving extistence impossible; Meaning, I cannot fathom that any attempt I make to influence the world with self-accomplishment could possible matter through time or after-life. Now, I know that my subject line contradicts this very notion; The Baal Shem Tov hoped only to serve God. No- I don’t believe he hoped to, strove to or felt any particular ambition to serve the Lord; He simply rippled with God.
These things I cannot fathom! These things, not simply because I was eight when the Cold War ended and because I had the appalling gall to count my Christmas gifts and feel slighted if they hadn’t exceeded the year before- These things I cannot fathom because I sit on a bed, sipping a beer produced in Seattle by a company that started when I was two. I cannot fathom Baal Shem Tov shining so brightly with teachings of Torah that listeners received him as they received God at Mount Sinai (this itself forbidden! Blasphemy!). Yet they listened- They were inspired to feel God through his teaching.
I cannot fathom either a faith so deep or a desire for fame so great that I project or feign the light of the (a) Lord. Nor can I comprehend being a judge ( In older days, His Honorable So-and-So of the 9th district court of blah-blah county established in some foul year of our Lord in a time when cholera was not yet banished and polio was not yet a fear and people grew their own food and one doctor served a trusting and bewildered group of people trusting absolutely in God on the highest but mostly just hoping to survive until 50 with limbs intact and children keeping the homestead and some sort of future in town; some sort of respectable calling. A teacher for the women, if they must work, and a judge or a politician for the men, if they aren’t bleeding to death in a mine or a ditch). No, I can’t see my way ( in modern days) through deciding the future of people barely blinking with the awful notion that this is it on this earth. The commercials lied! The product didn’t bring the promise. I made one mistake and suddenly I can’t vote.
What I mean is, I imagine the individual as myself. I see the whole world as one entity. Then I recoil at the fact that we absolutely smash each other every day, we humans (the last time I called another driver a cunt.. shames me). We hate each other! We judge each other… We are forced to serve each other with utter disgust. Fast food employees buy a lot of fast food; It’s all they can afford. Yet, they get pissed at every customer. Customers look down at fast food workers, even if they used to be one, or if they have no reason to look down on anyone. Chances are, your position in life just happened to happen. Even if you worked hard for it.
To all of you shitty CEO’s and politicians and rich men who snivel like children that you started from nothing- I say unto thee: So did every worker you exploit and so did every bright and shining new face in the business world who never made it anywhere you consider big. You are happenstance and you need to be grateful.
Even if you feel unique and intelligent and consider your perspective to be superior (as I often do), so what? For how long? How many years do you have until some unforseeable force wipes out your brain or heart or loved one or empire or government or bottle of scotch or luxury car or oil reserve or some random disease fucks your life up? How long do you have until you are just another atom brushed by forces you can never fathom under rugs so large that all of history smothers every large thought or heart swell you every felt? How many times can you tell yourself that what you are doing at this moment is important?
Unless you are breathing in every single moment of beauty and feeling grateful, your life is step after step on a field of landmines. If you haven’t thought that you are equal to everyone you judge, then you are probably part of a problem. If you don’t have time to ponder these things, then you understand why it’s so hard for me to ever consider myself anything but grateful.
I have the time and the health and the happiness to write blogs. I cannot fathom believing that anything I do in my life can conquer History’s disregard for me.. Time’s disregard for our desires…
If you have people you love and you are raising children and you are working hard and you aren’t hurting anyone with malice, your life is truly blessed. Baal Shem Tov could not find fault in this, could he? Could God? Do you deserve punishment if these thoughts don’t spin through your mind every day, suffocating you? Shall we all lie down in fields and hope for a vision? Shall we all take up arms for God? Shall we all fight the governments that repress us and deny us time to even think of God or think of our souls, so taxed and lied to and worked and dismayed are we at the way we pummel through the world, eating and drinking and grinning falsely?
A dog barks in the morning, above the valley of my home; This dog barks daily and nightly. This dog, tethered outside of its “owner’s” home since last Summer, barked during storm, Winter blizzard, wind, quiet and rustle. I have a running thought in my mind that I must confront the owners.
Why do you leave your dog outside? Do you not realize it is lonely or scared or desiring your company? Do you not realize that the dog disturbs all below and above you and that you are selfish and negligent?
Who are these people, with the dog? Who loves them (someone must)? Do they love the dog? Do they believe that the dog likes being outside and if they hear other dogs, do they think that the other dog owners are provoking their peaceful dog?
I cannot fathom; I cannot blame; I cannot weep in confusion and still revel in faith. Perhaps I am weaker than those who would cause suffering. They may see suffering as the lay of the Lord’s land; Perhaps our physical suffering and our upheaval are only a big deal when we refuse to smile at death and accept misery as a consequence for the little drops of nectar we receive for being able to live.
Here I am with, with my beer, in my home (comfortable), in a county on a panhandle in a state in a stable (some would argue) country on a continent relatively free of terrorism or rebellion-inducing discomfort (some would be stifled), in a world of billions struggling, loving, hoping, dying and existing.
Earlier, I could not bring myself to kill an ant, so I tossed it out a second-story window, hoping it would find its balance and thrive without laying eggs in my home.
How could I ever understand God?