Monday, December 21, 2015


My nephew was born with food allergies (which he has b"H since outgrown) but for the first couple of years he couldn't eat . . . well, anything with taste. A lot of rice and sometimes applesauce. 

He would sit on laps, hungrily watching all of us stuff our faces, and if he felt any sort of slackness in the grip of his keeper, he would lunge at a plate. The floor had to be carefully monitored for scraps. His throat would work yearningly in the presence of the sights and smells of the tantalizing untouchable.

Perhaps because he was the youngest of a rather large brood, my sister-in-law took a more pragmatic tactic: That he would just have to get used to it. Tough, but he can't eat what everyone else is. 

Before he was three, he was able to chow down with the rest of us, but for those two years of restriction a toddler of steel emerged. He's tough. He won't be pushed around. After all, what can anyone do to him? Eat while he has to watch? Been there. He's got true grit. 

Pretty much any movie that has Billy Crystal in it I can watch on a loop. One lazy Sunday afternoon I reacquainted myself with City Slickers, about three male friends with mid-life crises who head out to a dude ranch to herd cattle.
Every once in a while one would say to the other, "What, you think playing at being a cowboy will fix all your problems?" But funnily enough, it somehow does. 

After a number of snafus, the three are left alone with the herd. It is not a matter of life or death to bring the cattle in; but by tackling their mission, and emerging triumphant, they feel like absolute kings. 

Why did they head home with their backs straight and their problems worked out? They took on a challenge. They pushed themselves. They succeeded. They know now what they are capable of—making the choice to live life better, not merely accepting the situation given.

Again, read Eric Greiten's Resilience. 

My little nephew, the runt—you don't cross him. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."  


Daniel Saunders said...

I thought about that famous Nietzsche quote recently. I'm really struggling, mental health-wise. Severe depression, elements of anxiety and OCD. Stuff I'm not going to talk about in public. Really struggling to hold on to my sanity, my bitachon and my Yiddishkeit. But sometimes I get glimpses of the person I could be if I get through this, how much better I will be as a husband and a father some day. How much better I will be as a Jew, how much closer my relationship to HaShem. Unfortunately those glimpses do not last long. But I do need to hold on to them when things are so bad.

Princess Lea said...

Hold on!