© 2020 Drew T. Noll

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Burn Rate and Blockage

The world... It sure seems to be speeding towards some final epithetical something-or-other… I have found myself, over the last few weeks, waiting to see what slimes its way out of all the unrest that is vomiting around the planet; you know, with the starving in Somalia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and down the block, the war zones in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan (the list goes on...), and down the block, and the social unrest and fracturing that is affecting places around the globe... yes, and down the block. Usually, when writing one of these blog entries, I wait to see what percolates to the moss at the top of my awareness, but this time around, it feels like that wave, last week, that I punched a visceral hole out through the back-door of to escape its clutches... maybe never let me go after all. Maybe part of me never made it out the back-door at all and I have been roiling along with it all this time, in an inevitable journey all the way to an unforgiving volcanic-rock precipice that has been steadily waiting for me — with teeth bared — on the imaginary shore of ‘my’ lost paradise…

Roiling... Spiralling, sprawling, tumbling in the dark, cold water, it seems to me that we must be given only a certain amount of fuel (like air) to use up in this life and when it is done, so are we. Obviously, the problem is that we haven’t really learned how to read the fuel gauge. I mean, when we step on the gas in our lives, we are only really looking a few feet in front of us. We rarely look at the foreseeable horizon, much less to the vanishing point that is looming directly beyond our engorged-with-hot-air wisdom.

The gas gauge... You know, this is like searching for the Fountain of Youth or something. Why is it that the youth always seem to get stuck with social frustration and social unrest... wait, what is that anyways? The other day, I found myself thinking about the tent towns in Tel Aviv and how they compare to the rampaging, murderous violence that has plagued London as of late. Both societal groups of people, regardless of what our semi-elected political mouthpiece spout-festering... people say, come from all walks of life, old, young, students, workers, middle class, and lower class. They are made up of immigrants and natives, locals and foreigners and there really doesn’t seem to be any one factor that can group them together... except maybe their youthful zeal to protest the ‘unobvious’ to us all in the first place. Maybe it has something to do with the economy, which is still tanking, regardless of the bright, hopeful helium balloons rising into the political and economic stratosphere, if only to rip our attention away from our down-trodden game of footsie as we plough through the mud and silt of the last and latest generation’s flatulents.

Flatulents... Recently, I was reminded of a prayer that I say every morning, called Asher Yetzer, due to a personal tragedy in progress. Plugged-up platitudes also come to mind in relation to my current personal slow-burn epidemic of evaporative sanguine-ness, but, yet, I need not go there. No, that is too harsh. Let me just write down the prayer, so that you may glean what I am waxing wantonly, wanly... about... here:

Asher Yetzer... "Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who formed man with wisdom and created within him many openings (holes) and many hollows (cavities). It is obvious and known before Your Throne of Glory that if but one of them (the aforementioned ‘holes’ and ‘cavities’) were to be ruptured or if one of them were to be blocked, it would be impossible to survive and to (yes, here is the punch line) ‘stand’ before ‘You,’ even for a short period of time. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who heals all flesh and acts wondrously."

Ruptured or blocked... This kind of reminds me of the balloons that I mentioned earlier. You know, the hot air filled balloons that make us feel good, in terms of the economy, our investments, and stock-market-pseudo-reality land, just like the movie, “The Red Balloon,” that caused me to cry as a kid. A balloon is small and unobtrusive until it is filled up. It has a hole and it can fool us all as to how far it will expand. If the hole is blocked, you better hope that it is not too full of hot air or collides with something sharp and unpleasant; it might go unexpectedly boom...

Sharp and unpleasant... I know, this is totally unhelpful with regards to an explanation of my earlier statements, but that is the proverbial $&*#-house for you. I guess that the idea is directly from last week’s blog entry, “The Big Ride.” The ripples are coming at you from every conceivable direction and in every size and duration. You know that the pond is only going to get more and more complexly contrived from our own exacerbations and all we can do is tumble it all out, hoping for some air and little to no jagged rocks at our inevitable conclusion.

Inevitable conclusion... OK, moving on... this week’s parsha, Ekev (Heel) (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25), informs us that we should, "Take care lest you forget the Lord, your God ... and you build good houses and ... you increase silver and gold ... and everything you have will increase ... and you will forget the Lord, your God, who took you out of ... Egypt from a house of slavery..." It also informs us that we should, "Keep the commandments of God, and walk in His ways," but more on that later.

Ekev means Heel... This just about covers it all, doesn’t it? # 1: Don’t forget why you have it so good. # 2: Live and build your life on a solid foundation with a good roof overhead. # 3: Become wealthy and satisfied. # 4: Watch as your efforts multiply. # 5: Forget God, since it is all coming from ‘you’ (and not God) anyways...

Coming from me... When I was a kid, my brother and I used to steal candy and balloons from the dime store. All the kids did it. We had a great system of unrolling our towels after playing at the beach all day, right in front of the candy rack. We would meticulously roll our towels up into a nice neat little tootsie-roll holder, candy all buried within. One day, my brother was caught. I waited for him outside the store, a ways down the block, but he didn’t show. So, it was time to man up and go in to see what had happened. Of course, I had to hide the balloons that I stole somewhere, so I took a couple of rubber bands and captured the packages between them inside one of my socks. Thinking about it now, that is really a contorted way of hiding them... I guess I didn’t want to put them in my pockets or was worried that if I hid them in a bush or something, they might get stolen. Long story short, I spoke to the manager and told him that we would tell our parents about my little brother’s indiscretion if he didn’t call them. Of course, I never said that I also stole balloons when we told our parents about it. I learned that day that society is only interested in what we are caught for. I got off scot-free, and thus, didn’t get punished, even though I had committed the same act. Society rewarded me for getting away with it...

Getting away with it... I am trying to figure out how “Walking in His way” can shed some light on this. It is now 1:33 pm here in Israel and I just found out that the Palestinians have been launching an attack all morning long, killing and maiming civilians, tourists, and children again, in multiple consecutive attacks in the South. These attackers appear to be Gaza locals that have been travelling freely back and forth from the Sinai in Egypt and back to Gaza again. The attacks originated from Egypt, Gaza, and also from within Israel. I guess this must be that ugly ‘peace process’ lurking its rotten carcass up above that foreseeable horizon that I was talking about earlier. The Palestinians want a state of their own, which doesn’t seem to rule out ‘at the expense or annihilation of the Jews’ and the Europeans are helping them do it. The UN plans to pass a unilateral agreement in September, confirming an independent Palestinian state. This is the way to peace, they say — by enabling the Palestinians to become... whatever they seem to be becoming. Even the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority has recently stated that, if ever it gains control of Jerusalem, it will build an Arab housing complex on top of the Western Wall Plaza, the second holiest site in Judaism (right behind the Temple Mount where Muslims have complete jurisdiction now). Does that sound moderate or even peaceful to you? Maybe from the side of the Jews...

Walk in His ways... Do you suppose that God had a reason to ask us to keep His commandments first and ‘then’ to walk in His ways? I have some ideas but I am out of time, so I will work on that one later. All I can say now is that sometimes, when we are blinded by the roiling dark water that is spinning out in all directions from our own egotistical, unabashed thrashing as we grind into the perceived rocks on the shore of our lost paradise, we may just need to regroup, tuck into a ball, and float up to the surface. We may just need to have enough faith to try and stop rationalizing every little thing. This Shabbat, let’s try to make true and ever-lasting shalom, bringing peace to us all by walking in His ways.

Shabbat Shalom...