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More Advice for the Green-hearted

T. called last Thursday.

She and I don’t talk that regularly but we have each other’s backs no matter how the chips fall. I believe in her work and she believes in mine, and we have known each other since our indignant adolescence, when she was newly arrived from South Africa and I was too mad to rise from any ashes just yet.

That day she’d seen my bellyaching on social media and picked up the phone. She called just as I was sobbing on my bed with the particular hopelessness of someone who doesn’t expect to be comforted.

“What’s going on?” she said with her customary lack of introduction, a trait I find endearing. Continue Reading →

It’s Always Something

Sunday, on the precipice of a new moon and the Jewish New Year, I woke at 4 am, early even for me. Cool air drifted through the window and rain pitter-pattered against the glass as I lounged in bed, draped in an autumn mumu and reading my second Gilda Radner book in two days. I’ve been pretty open about how hard I’ve been finding life, so the peace of that moment was sweet.

I’m not entirely sure why Gilda’s been giving me so much comfort right now. I’ve been reading and watching everything about her and I think partly it’s her guilelessness coupled with that intense mischief. Her intelligence and sense of the absurd were palpable, but so were her huge vulnerability and empathy–it was all wrapped in an enormous, childlike glow. Not a childish one, mind you for by all reports she was eminently kind, and children rarely are. (People who think children are born kind are fooling themselves; kindness is always a learned trait.) But Gilda was surely childlike: playful, present, boundlessly, bountifully enthusiastic. So much so that her voice was extra-raspy and her limbs extra rubbery, as if excitement was constantly stretching her limits. Continue Reading →

Bittersweet Apples for 5779

I’ve posted this Louise Erdrich quote before but it bears repeating for the Jewish New Year. It’s how I always hope to live.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy