Monday, September 26, 2016

Three Women in a Car

I was holding court from the back seat.

After a lovely outing, the conversation on the drive home strayed to the nitty-gritty. 

It began with the driver's claim that this world nowadays is so "terrible." As a history buff, I . . . lost it. 

"What do mean, 'this world is terrible'? You know what life used to be like? Babies rarely survived infancy! Do you understand that, once, parents wouldn't show affection to their children because chances were that child wouldn't make it to adulthood? They would shield themselves from possible loss! Never mind the statistics of women dying in childbirth! Don't you dare say this world is terrible!" 

Ma, in the passenger seat, who has actually lived in the old country, began to scream as well. "We are going to throw this wonderful life back in the Eibishter's Face, that what He has given us, this comfort, this safety, and say it's no good? Where's the hakoras hatov?" 

The driver was silent a moment. "But people are so unhappy. They have such problems." 

"It is impossible to have joy without gratitude!" I bellowed, in full Brené mode

Another moment of quiet. "Well, good for you that you are that way, but not everyone is born like that." 

Then I roared some more. "You think that one has to be born with it? We are Jews! We have bechira! You make a choice to be grateful!" 

She had slowed to 2 m.p.h. to drag out this conversation whilst listening carefully, igniting the murderous wrath of more than one fellow motorist. Though I did fear a mobster taking a swing at the car with the ubiquitous baseball bat, Ma and I managed to stay on target, the pitbull's teeth sunk in the metaphorical mailman's leg.

I've been hearing it a lot lately; this world is so hard, this world is no good, it used to be easier. 

Sure. In some ways, yes. There were less existential crises when surviving the winter was the main goal. 

There will always be a trade-off. We don't go hungry. We have washing machines. We have freedom of religion. That's grand. But we should have no difficulties, at all, either? 

To live in true paradise, we have to bring Moshiach first. 


Some Poems Don't Rhyme said...

It's a choice to be happy. We focus on the negatives, the pain, the struggles, because it’s easier. We feel loss more keenly than we feel joy. We have more time now that we have washing machines, more time to reflect on what we don’t have. We have more freedom now that we have freedom of religion, freedom to complain about all the less essential things. Do we have a lot of problems, yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be happy. And per Brene Brown, when we numb pain, we numb joy, so neither exist in a vacuum. Well said PL!

Mr. Cohen said...

Rabbi Shalom Arush (shlita) and Rabbi Lazer Brody (shlita) often teach that complaining invokes Divine wrath and punishment, while thanking G_d and an attitude of gratitude invokes Divine blessings and help.

Princess Lea said...

SPDR: I really have to re-read Daniel Gilbert's book. And Brene's. Because happiness is a pursuit in that it is a personal goal—it is only achieved from within, not without.