Sybil Ludington Rides Again

Politics, Freedom and Farm Life

Category: Emuna Faith

Moving on or up?

In the mid-1970s there was a TV show called “Movin’ On” about a pair of truck drivers, Will and Sonny, theme song by Merle Haggard. These guys were not pick up truck drivers as you can see, they drove the big 18 wheelers and probably why Kenworth is still my favorite. Can you imagine the nightmare of one being stuck in deep snow? Or mud? Those things don’t turn on a dime, they are not exactly light and agile, you add in deep slick snow or thick mud? There is a nightmare.

Do you ever feel like that in life? Like you are stuck in molasses or deep thick mud? You know you don’t like where you are, you have a glimmer of maybe not where, but how you would like to be but you haven’t a clue how to get there. Perhaps it is some goal you’ve set, to finish college, or start college, perhaps it’s to take up race car driving or trap shooting. How does one get from here to there? That’s a challenge in and of itself isn’t it?

Now add in perhaps you’ve made a commitment, one that you fully intended to keep. To help someone that needs it out every, say every evening. And so you go along for a few years helping them out every evening. You feel good in the knowledge you are helping someone who needs help, you are doing a kindness. But as time goes on it is beginning to wear on you. You have your own work to do, and your own deadlines to meet. And you are cutting yourself short on things because you do have other responsibilities, at home, at work and in life. And then, then that local community college nearby adds a course in the field you’ve always wanted. It’s for a limited time, only 3 years to see if there is enough interest in it to permanently add it to their roster, and it’s a 2 year degree.

To do it, you will need to face a mountain of obstacles, how will I pay for it? Do I make enough money I can support myself and my dependents? Can I stay where I live? If not, can I find another place? Do I have the time to study and really learn the material? Am I too old to start over in that kind of a college environment, those kids are probably really sharp, will I be able to keep up in class? I used to be a good student, but perhaps my best scholastic days are behind me. That’s a plenty to sort isn’t it?

And then you come to a really big obstacle. You help this person out every night. And they really do need your help. They’ve become accustomed to you, how you do things, and there is a sort of friendship there. You’ve said that you would be there to help them as long as they needed you. But now, now you want to do this. It would give your a different chance in life. Maybe better, maybe not. There are no guarantees, only opportunities, only chances, no guarantees, not a one. So you think you would like to take this chance, you think you would like to break free and run for the chance.

But, what right do you have to break your word? To break the promise you would come every night to help them? There isn’t anyone else and what makes your happiness more important that theirs? After all, you did give your word, you did promise. Oh, back then you didn’t have a crystal ball and didn’t know as time passed the situation would change, but it has. Perhaps you shouldn’t have promised rashly? Perhaps it wasn’t rashly. You really intended to keep that promise. But still, the situation has changed, they always do.

This week I listened to Temple Talk radio like I always do, I love that show and learn so much from it. You can listen to the whole show here.

But this is a little clip just a few minutes long, with the relevant part. Just a smidge over 4 minutes.

So are we allowed to change our minds? Even if it makes someone else sad?

And once we get past that, then we get to deal with all the other things I started out with, paying for it, income, staying where we are and being to old to start over in college and keeping up all our other responsibilities in life.

This was from one of my devotional books yesterday. I have some devotional books I like reading every morning with my coffee.

Another one of them is by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and this was the page I read yesterday.

LIES

Ruler of the World, grant me truth!

Spare me from the lies of others.

Help me stop myself from lying to others.

Save me from lying to myself, and spare me from the lies of my own illusions.

O God, never let me live a lie, even for only a moment.

(LM 1:7)

And that’s where the wheels of Will and Sonny’s Kenworth are for I think a lot of people. A faint glimmer of what is wanted, but all 18 wheels stuck in the mud.

Do we live with the illusion that we won’t be sorry we didn’t take the chance, take our shot? Or is the illusion that we won’t miss the routine of our life now? It’s not really all that bad is it now? That when the challenges end up being much more than we dreamed of that we won’t berate ourselves for having thrown, perhaps not happiness, but a stable existence away? And what if it causes us to lose something that is even more dear to us that the thought of that college degree we always dreamed of? Those letters behind our name? The knowledge, oh yes, the knowledge we’ve yearned for. But what if the price for that is far more dear than we anticipated?

I have no answers for anyone, I know someone who does. Hint? He made horses…..

 

Facing the Quicksand

I’m sure everyone has had to do things they don’t especially want to do. For me lately it’s been a barn infested with raccoons. Oh yes, they are cute, they are adorable, very clever little bandits. Until you find they have killed one third of your flock of chickens like I did several years ago. I don’t want to hear the nonsense about them just being hungry. Not when you find your chicken dying having had a leg or wing ripped off, or just ripped open. Not when you find their corpses stashed in the upper part of the chicken house. No, it killed because it enjoyed it. And so I will tolerate no raccoons in my barn. It’s too close to the chickens. Not to mention they poop on the hay for the boys and they carry diseases. Nope, not happening.

So this year has been very bad for them, and me. I’m guessing at some point a mother gave birth to a bunch of them and they’ve all come back for a family reunion. So far they have chewed up the extension cord that my stock tank heater was plugged into. While it was plugged in. I’m still grateful it didn’t set my barn on fire. The tin I kept the boys treats in has been in use for years and the lid fit tight enough it was never a problem till this year. I don’t use it anymore. I’ve lost track of how many I’ve killed. But I’m very tired of having to clean up the “messes”. The last one I had to clean up was the worst. I just couldn’t make myself do it for various and sundry reasons. I finally ended up praying about it. It had to be done, I knew that or it would attract more animals. Believe it or not, an answer did come, and I was able to accomplish the necessary task fairly quickly. The sense of relief was amazing. Yes, I know it seems like a stupid thing, but not when you have to do it.

And it set me to thinking. How many other things in life do I try to do on my own willpower, or with only my own resources? Sometimes we just don’t have it in us to be nice to that person that really annoys us, or we don’t even like. Or to work on a task we are dreading but know we need to do it. I wonder, have I thought it was too lowly for G-d to want to help me, or to bother him about it? I know the only real strength, wisdom, courage, creativity or anything else comes from him. Perhaps I need to be quicker to ask for help with even things that seem lowly, or like I should be able to do them on my own. Because frankly? Some of those efforts don’t turn out so good.

I guess it depends on how we choose to spend our time. We all have time, sometimes it seems like not enough, but I think it’s a case of what I choose to “spend” it on. I can waste it on a multitude of things, or I can treat it like the gift it is, and spend it wisely.

This is from a meditation book I love called The Daily Stoic for March 15th.

The Present is All We Possess

Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?”

MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 2.14

Today, notice how often you look for more. That is, wanting the past to be more than what it was (different, better, still here, etc.) or wanting the future to unfold exactly as you expect (with hardly a thought as to how that might affect other people).

When you do this, you’re neglecting the present moment. Talk about ungrateful! There’s a saying—attributed to Bil Keane, the cartoonist—worth remembering: “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” This present is in our possession—but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one. If you enjoy all of it, it will be enough. It can last a whole lifetime.

And that brings me to facing quicksand. There are things, situations and events that happen in life. They are big, and they didn’t turn out the way we had hoped or wanted. We feel like they are so painful that there is a psychic tear or something in us. We heal, but we are not the same. Sometimes it’s the lose of a much loved family member. Sometimes it’s something career oriented, sometimes it relationship oriented. So what do we do with that? All of these are situations we don’t control really. We can never really control another person.

We just don’t want to let go. We think it will get better, just a rough patch, be patient, be kind. It’s only when the decomposition process begins we are finally forced to admit that it is done for. Stick a fork in it, it’s done. Let it go Jim, he’s dead.

They do what they do, but we can choose how we react. If we do choose to react. Sometimes we go on, get over it and go forward with the relationship, the job, the hobby or whatever. But sometimes? That tear is strong enough that we choose to alter our course in life, or our thoughts or opinions about the job, the person, the opportunity. I think of it as quicksand. If you’ve been caught in quicksand once and made it out, you know what it looks like when you see it. When you’re out walking, you aren’t afraid of it, you have an appreciation for what it can do to you and you just tip your hat and walk on by it. Because there is just not a good enough reason to examine it up close again. It’s not living life based on fear, but on how you chose to react to something that doesn’t work out well for you.

So, today is a present, may I spend it wisely and remember, G-d cares about the situations I face and that he can use those psychic tears in our souls. I don’t know that I want to “mend” or “heal” from some of them. I think I will just begin to see it as something of a quicksand avoidance system. And perhaps with that system in place? I will become even closer to who and what G-d created me to be in the first place. I may be a very flawed creature, but I’m a flawed creature that G-d has a plan for. I’ve discovered his plans for me are often better than the ones I make for myself. I shoot too low from time to time. My hopes and aspirations for myself are sometimes pittance to what he has planned. Because his? They are always on the mark.  I’m sure many have felt bruised and battered. I do. But I will keep going on with as much dignity as I can, learn life lessons and be the stronger for it.

Love Notes From G-d

Some times I get to thinking that things I think need to happen aren’t happening fast enough. Or perhaps that I’m not doing enough to make them happen, or that I’m doing things that keep them from happening. And, perhaps, sometimes some of those things are true. But sometimes I think that it’s also that I think I have more control over people, situations and circumstances than I really do. Or that I want to have more control over them than I should. I suppose it could be a bit of arrogance. The flip side of that is sometimes it’s mired in uncertainty because I don’t know which direction to go or how to get from here to there.

A few days ago I started trying a new nail painting technique I saw on Facebook. A friend of mine had posted a video of different techniques for pretty designs that could be done at home. Of course he posted it a few months ago, but it stuck with me. So a few days ago I finally got around to trying it. I liked it. So a few days later when the polish had a chip, I decided to try it again with a couple of different colors. I chose a melon with a blue accent, then added a couple of drops of silver sparkley polish for good measure. It wound up being really pretty.

Yes, this is going somewhere.

Last month I ordered three really pretty polo shirts from The Zelman Partisans Queensboro store. Since the things are made to order, they take awhile to get here, so you never should count on them being in at a certain time, unless you placed your order way in advance. They came on Shabbat.

The Jewish Arts Festival was on Sunday. I wasn’t scheduled to work it, but I wanted to. I had a friend who had been asked to help at the Israeli Technology booth. I love Israel, and I love my technology. So a call had been placed with a plaintive request, “could you see if they would let me help in the booth?”. Call them and ask. No, I want you to call and ask. I was afraid they’d tell me no. I think I see a couple chicken feathers floating past my desk right now. To my great joy the answer was a resounding yes, and have her call me at once. I did and it was all set up.

You’ve probably guessed this part. The nails I had done a few days before perfectly matched the melon shirt and the embroidery of the design. The shirt I hadn’t seen yet and didn’t know it would be here.

Since I was a last minute addition to the roster, I just wore my own shirt rather than accepting the Jewish Arts festival volunteer shirt they were giving volunteers. They were thrilled, guess medium is a popular size.

Many, many people saw that Zelman Partisans logo that day as I spoke on my topics of ReWalk and Netafim’s Flexnet drip irrigation system.

It prompted some interesting comments, “Are those guns on your shirt???” “Why yes they are”. From there the discussion went to my extreme aversion to cattle cars and ghettos. The history of gun control laws, the Weimer Republic and living life as a free person. The people that point blank asked me about it seemed very interested in discussing it, and it was an excellent conversation all the way around. They actually already leaned that way, but they thought TZP was amazing. It is.

So here’s the thing. For some reason I decided to chose the soft melon orange over the brighter orange. I chose the blue accent rather than the green or pink or purple.

I don’t know that G-d is fixated on my nail polish color, but I do think he can urge us to do things if we are open to hearing him.

Little miracles and big ones, he gives them all to us. I want to be open to seeing the little miracles, matching nail polish and shirt for a very put together look at a public appearance. A beautiful sunset or sunrise. The very corral panels I wanted being on sale just when I’m working enough hours to buy them, and they are the only corral panels on sale. Passing my ACLS class when I really didn’t get to study as much as I wanted or needed to study. Little and big miracles, he gives them to us all. I do not want to throw the little miracles back in his face because they weren’t “big enough” to suit me, or impress me enough, or the “right” ones. The more aware I am of the little miracles, the more I realize how many of them there are. I want to be attuned to his voice, to his presence to his will.

And sometimes I just feel like I flounder. I know he loves me, I know he wants what’s best for me, and for me to be happy. I also know sometimes the path that I think will bring those things will not bring them. But he knows the path that will. Things happen, to make me a better person, for soul correction, to help me empathize with others. I’ve learned to appreciate the little bits of happiness when I have them. For me to fixate only on my problems, and worry will not necessarily change anything. But when I do that, to the exclusion of the little bits of happiness I was offered along the way I am being foolish. It does not cause the problems to sort themselves quicker, it does not shorten the time of trouble. It only prevents me from having some peace and happiness along the way that I was offered. Arrogance and lack of emuna (faith).

So, I’m going to take my new shirt, and perfectly matching nail polish and design coupled with a wonderful chance to talk about Israeli technology as a love note from G-d. Sybil, I know what you need, I know when you need it, and I put things into place and play before you even know they are important. You concentrate on doing the things I put in front of you today, and remember child, I love you. I’ve got this.

Love,

G-d, אבא

Perfect nails, perfect shirt