Rabbi Yossi's Blog

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May you live in interesting times

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“May you live in interesting times.”

They say that it’s an ancient curse, even though no one had used it until a hundred years ago. Supposedly the curse aspect is that peace and tranquility, “normal life,” is not interesting. But I never viewed this popular expression as a curse - I viewed it as encouragement. Every day can be interesting, if we only took the time to notice what was happening.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to take my daughter to the airport; she was going to winter camp for a week. Due to some last minute changes in her ticket, she couldn’t get on her original flight and we found ourselves waiting at the airport for a few hours for the next one.

After exploring the terminal for a quieter place to sit, scoping out the nearest restroom and finding a few Kosher snacks, we still had three hours to go until her flight. I had some work to do on my computer but my daughter soon began to get restless.

“What could I do? I’m so bored?” She didn’t even have a book to read. Loath to having her spend three hours playing games on my phone, I told her to take a walk and see what new things she notices. We had already been through the entire terminal, “There’s nothing to see!” she insisted.

I explained to her that when you don’t pay attention there are many details that are missed. I looked up and noticed the entire wall ahead of us was windows - huge windows, with giant mechanical shades on the outside. I pointed them out and asked her if she had noticed it before? She hadn’t and, intrigued, ran over to check them out a little closer up. I then pointed out the exposed beams in the ceiling, she found that interesting too.

I asked her to walk up and down the terminal and try to notice things - people dressed differently, interesting design elements in the building. She came back a while later; she had noticed an interesting chandelier and seen a person with brightly dyed hair. She had noticed how the planes take off and land in different directions and which airlines were occupying which gates.

This little exercise didn’t last all that long but it did remind me of something important - we all are so caught up in our lives; jobs, family and all the things pulling our attention that we forget to take the time to observe.

I’m sure that if we actually did take the time to observe our life would much easier to manage. Someone who is detached enough from a stressful situation to observe what is going on, is much less likely to react negatively. When we take the time to notice what is happening around us - what we pass, who we meet and what they say, suddenly our life becomes much richer - and more interesting.

One more thing - when we take the time to be present in our life, we have the ability to influence others in a positive way. When we are simply going with the flow - we’re too overwhelmed to even take care of ourselves, let alone influence others. When we live our life intentionally, observing ourselves and what we are experiencing, we can have a positive effect on those around us. After all, that is what we Jews are here to accomplish - making this world a G-dly place.

So, my blessing to you is, “May you live in interesting times!”


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