A Time to Cry

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” – a line reads in most translations of Ecclesiastes or Kohelet. But as one Bible scholar I know well has suggested in his book on the ancient wisdom text, the Hebrew word commonly translated as “vanity” can in fact also mean “breath.”

“Breath, breath, all is breath” – now it sounds more like a zen and rather uplifting meditation on how breath is what it’s all about, and that in the end, nothing else really matters. All the other things and emotions and experiences are a natural part of our lives and yearnings, but in the end, it’s breath that lets us live and laugh and cry.

“A time to be born and a time to die…” we read on. Sadly, today I lost a dear friend, whose breath left her in the early morning hours. And I cry. But her breath didn’t just evaporate and disappear, in my mind. That energy—for breath is energy—is just transformed. This is physics 101. I imagine a sacred blanket of protection lingering forever around all those who loved her and whose lives have been touched by her, as her unique energy is transformed to a living blessing. Her memory—like her life and her being and her breath—will be a blessing to us, and thus, she will remain among us, in this way.

Wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, friend…the list goes on, and so do the memories. I hear her voice and her laughter and the way she used to call out my name, “Ninalich!” I see the way she used to sit on the chair, the way she’d walk, her affection toward my now adult sons ever since they were babies. I remember how she’d sweep into the room and the room would light up from her smile, and she’d offer solutions and ideas on how to make things, anything, better, more beautiful, smoother and smarter. She was, I now realize more than ever, a grounding almost maternal force for me, although we were almost contemporaries.

A deep urge to feel rooted sweeps over me today. Home and family were my friend’s ultimate raison d’être, and trying to honor her positive energy and endless grace, I yearn to pull my boys close, cook a soulful meal, and beautify my surroundings. And most of all, I will put the notion of shalom bayit—peace at home—in the center as I count my blessings and focus on breath. For it is all. And she taught me this.




Onward in a Flash!

Well, well, well. Fancy seeing you here. Where the heck have you been? What am I? Chopped liver?

This is my blog talking to me, and I can’t say I blame it. Although my knee-jerk reaction is to shoot back a sharp “So what??” I won’t go there. It could get ugly and the holidays are just around the corner, so I’ll take the high road.

And rather than offering up a long list of reasons why I’ve been absent for so long (ok, excuses, excuses!) I am offering a truce: the flash blog post. Moving forward, I commit to only publishing posts made of max 500 words, but aiming for even less. That’s about half of my typical blog post length, and will feel less imposing for both you, the reader, and me.

Those of you familiar with my curiosity blog know that I have a propensity toward wordiness, but fear no more! While absent, I’v been exploring the most unlikely thing for a person of my disposition, namely to express myself more briefly. One such attempt was recently awarded by being published on the Brevity Blog – the blog of the journal by the same name publishing concise literary nonfiction. Another micro-memoir-essay of mine made it to the final round (but no cigar!) of a competition last month.

I have to tell you it is pretty exhilarating or at least rewarding to see how an essay about anything can go from a longer form of its original self, filled with what in hindsight (but only in hindsight) looks like unnecessary rambling, to a chiseled and defined version, and this new specimen feeling truer, clearer and packing more punch. I wrote about this kind of epiphany a while back in a publication called Literary Mama.

Now there’s a word to behold: concise. I now carry this little secret nudge in my pocket and fondle it daily to remind me of its value.

I think my offer of a flash blog post might be a great compromise serving both me (who wants to keep writing), the (bitchy) blog (who doesn’t want to just whither away, alone and ignored after such a robust and colorful early life), and you, the reader (who is the real hero in all of this, and whose time and attention I never take for granted).

So, from now on, I commit to a shorter more concise form or blog post, think in the tradition of flash non-fiction or flash fiction stories, or even what is called micro-essays (look it up; I had to once).

Oh, and FYI: I’m clocking off at 436 words.

See ya!