© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dry-heaves, Tongue Glue, and Oz


Tongue Waggin
Sometimes I feel like I am being dragged uphill at such a breakneck speed that my self-awareness is being ripped off by wash-board bumps and boulders scattered across the pothole asphalt. Sometimes, I just wonder if I exist at all. I mean, what is happening in the world today? Everything's just 'so' upside down, everywhere…  We live in a world where gangsters are revered, peace keepers are shunned, royalty is destitute and hollow, evil dictators are 'shied' away from, the righteous are haughty, and the 'actual' poor are ignored. We live in a world where the next gadget is more important than the child that died making it. We live in a world where the rich and famous, the actors and the celebrities, all rant to the empty space between our ears from atop a soap-box about grandiose, self-promoting, and (oh-so) noble ideas — we seem to be living in a world that is trying to barf-up (hopelessly caught in a cycle of vapor-lock dry-heaves) the 15 minutes of fame that we were 'all' promised, but never received.

In Israel today, it was Holocaust Memorial Day. In Iran, today was an ode to Holocaust denial, where the day was celebrated by showing back to back (antisemitic, anti-Israel) cartoons in order to deaden the next generation's thoughts and souls to the 'Human' condition, to the awareness that we all really 'need' to get along. It is just so dark, the whole thing. I mean, have you ever wondered why our favorite artists, poets, painters, and musicians are the tragic ones that cut off their ears, experimented with heroin without invoking a control group, or just plain sucked on the barrel of a shotgun? As I stood, looking out of the window today, listening to the siren blare across the country and watching the cars stop in the middle of the road to remember, in a country that was built out of the ashes of Europe's Fascist masquerade of ego and rage, I meant to think about the unfathomable reality that occurred half of a century ago, but my mind just went blank. I wondered what to do with my hands… 'Pockets… thumbs… clasped behind my back…'

I read some commentaries about the parsha of the week, Metzora (Leviticus 14-15). It's a heavy too — they all talk about the ongoing destruction of mankind by the unchecked wagging of our tongues. They spoke of the first time speech was misused, in the Garden of Eden, where the proto-snake sunk his teeth into heaven, poisoning the world, which has, regrettably, become the psycodelic bouncy-house that we live in today. In one of these commentaries, I read that it is written in the Talmud (Bavli Erachin 15b) that Reish Lakish said:  "One who slanders makes his sin reach unto heaven; as it is said: 'They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth.'" This quote has a visceral feeling of giant Pink Floyd voluptuous monsters breaking down the walls that society built, walls that were meant to protect us from the ravages of anarchy, the hollow wailing of emptiness as it greedily consumes us in its sweet scented promise of cadavers to come.

I went to the Zichron Train Station, tonight, where a friend of mine is running a nursery/blues bar. It was rocking. I got into a philosophical discussion there with another old friend that I hadn't seen in about a year. He just couldn't fathom the nature of why the religious have to put so much emphasis on the rules, on the rules to protect the rules. It was the age-old argument of, 'Why does God care?' If I am a good person, then I should be good as gold, right? Well, what 'is' a good person then? Is a good person someone that pays his bills on time, helps little old ladies to cross the street, and refrains from beating his/her loved ones? Is a good person someone that doesn't waste valuable resources that have been generously provided by our earth mother? Is that all it is to be good? Or, is a good person one that takes the entire world on his/her shoulders, growing into the cracks that have been corrupted by the tongue wagers. Is a good person someone that says, "I will do what it takes to make this world a 'better' world and that means that I need to fix myself first; I need to go deep into my 'own' nature and find that place that does not accept others, that operates from weakness, from pain, and from fear. I need to reach out to God by reaching out to others and by seeking enlightenment with the tools that He gave me, my mind, my heart, my soul or in other words, my Torah…"

Since it appears from this neck of the woods that we are heading down the last swirl of the cosmic flush, if you know what I mean, I just might have to put in some small effort to try and save it from the giant gold fish and crocodiles that are reported to have consumed the underworld and are now thumping up under the floorboards. The world has become an upside down, inside out adventure land, just waiting for someone (maybe you, maybe me) to come along and right it. Why is it so hard to see the moment that our collective tongue begins to flutter, to produce involuntary spasms that tear the Universe asunder? Maybe it is because life is just 'so' hard to do right, I mean to actually live. Why does it have to feel like I am being dragged up the hill, anyways…?

At the blues bar we talked about the history of Israel and how impossible it is. No one understands how Israel is still standing today. The amount of wars, terror, and hate that has stomped down at her is mind boggling. Israel is tiny, a little pin-prick of a democracy in the middle of an oil driven Middle Eastern Arab cacophony of chaos. How is it possible that it still exists, is still on the front page of every newspaper in the entire world? And now it even appears that the rest of the world has joined the rabble pounding on the city gates. Europe is lost. America is divided down the middle and has a chief chef that acts as if he has burnt his tongue on something sharp. The way it is going, America will be lost as well, (they say) maybe in 20 to 50 years… There will be a time soon, when Israel will have to rely on more than just wide open and obvious 'miracles' to get it through. Yeah… I don't think we are in Kansas anymore…

Shabbat Shalom!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Metamorphosis


The other night I awoke with a start, finding myself lying uncomfortably on an unknown park bench. It was in the wee hours of the morning and there were bottles strewn about. Two friends that I hadn't seen in years were sitting nearby, on an adjacent bench, but my mind was still wrapped in a dream that I had been having. I looked up at my friends and began to tell them about my dream. It didn't matter that I was on a bench, who knows where, who knows why, I needed to talk about it. The dream I had had was powerful and tapped the inner recesses of my soul. The dream started, simply enough, with me and my wife walking down a cobbled street, winding in and out between kiosks and restaurant seating someplace in Europe or maybe here in Israel. As our stroll progressed, I kept finding myself trapped by dead-ends, while my wife continued on ahead. I would be walking along with her and, all of a sudden, I would find railings separating us, forcing me to hop over in order to continue. Sometimes an overhanging ceiling sloped down and forced me to duck around it or even to have to crawl.

In one of these moments, when I needed to make a decision to crawl back or duck into a stairwell that led to a store, I noticed that it was a small shop that sold woodworking tools. I am a sucker for those, especially the ones from different cultures, so I descended… down the narrowing stairway and into the tool shop for only a moment. My wife would definitely know where I had gone. I was really interested in seeing what types of tools were available in the region we were traveling in, but when I walked into the store, in a most surprising turn of events, I immediately found a clerk and asked him: "Do you sell sheep? I would like to buy a herd of sheep. Can I buy those here, from you?" You see, in that moment, I knew that I wanted to let them graze on the land where my mother used to live, the land that she bought with money that she received from the sale of the property from last week's blog post, land that was meant to be passed down from generation to generation in Northern California; it seemed that, in my subconscious mind, I wanted sheep to graze on this new land that she is still, even after death, trying to deed to her second, younger husband.

Then, in another shocking turn of events, the moment I finished my question, I knew that my mother was behind me. I turned around and, indeed, she was standing right there, in the middle of the tool shop. I was really angry at first and asked her what she was doing here. I said, "You are not supposed to be here! You died!" I told her that she didn't belong in this world anymore. She replied, weakly, "I thought so… but, I wasn't sure… I… am… so… cold…," she stammered. I moved closer to her, noticing the lack of color in her face and slowly, I reached out to her and gave her a hug to try and warm her, somewhat. She said in my ear, simply, "I'm afraid." I wanted to tell her in that moment about Gehenom (the Cosmic Washing Machine for the Soul), about Kapa Kele (the Inter-dimensional Sling-shot that ricochets our Neshama, our Soul, around until it understands the truth of the world. I wanted to tell her how everyone goes to Gehenom, but that for all practical purposes, everyone 'also' leaves there and goes to the Soul Waiting Room, to Gan Eden, to Heaven, but decided to skip to the end and just tell her that she would be alright and not to worry. I gave her an extra hug and then, in yet another shocking turn of events, I woke up on the park bench, as if I was still a disheveled bohemian youth, traveling with a tattered backpack around the US, Europe, and beyond.

While trying to process the dream I had had with my friends, telling them about how deep it was and that it really was my mother coming to visit me, one last time, my son came home from the movies, opened the door to my room, and said that the time had changed. I awoke again… to find that I was having a dream about having awoken on a park bench, processing a dream with some old friends that I had had about my deceased mother. My wife was concerned and started to argue with my son that it was 3:00 in the morning. My son began to debate with her that it was daylight savings and that it wasn't actually 3:00, it was 4:00. I just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't. I couldn't get over the feeling that I had just said goodbye to my mom. It seems that she was buried so deep in my subconscious mind that I needed to navigate to see her in a dream inside another dream…

Maybe, however, that is all life is anyways: a dream inside a dream. I mean, have you ever woken from a terrible nightmare, knowing that it was real, that it was actually happening, and in that exact moment, right as you wake, you are aware that it was only a dream? That must be what it is like to die. There must be a moment of confusion, an overwhelming sense of being whooshed away, removed from yourself, and, in the moment when you are looking back at the shell that you once were, you realize that it was all only a dream. The shell that you are slowly floating away from is only the residue of it, the chrysalis, the pupa. It is an endearing part of who you are, or were, but it is now… just… not you anymore. You are something else that has been there all along, but buried under layers of ego and self-aggrandizement, under layers of justification... If only we had known…

Pesach (Passover) is coming. It is a time of metamorphosis. It is a time of leaving all that we have known, all that was us, and moving closer to who we were meant to be. It is a time of freedom, like a butterfly emerging from the inevitable hibernation inside a pupa. It is a time that we shed our fluff, our ego's manifestation of self, and move into the next world. As I clean the leavened dough that has filled out my world view, I can't help but dream about the other side. What is it going to be like to wake up from this dream I have been living? What is it going to be like…?

Oh wow… Man… Oh wow… Chag Sumeach!

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