MitzrayimLit. Egypt. Because the Hebrew word for narrow is tzar, Mitzrayim is also understood as "narrowness," as in, the narrow and confining places in life from which one emerges physically and spiritually. is a state of mind, and we carry our chains within us. This is what they sound like, clanking in our self-talk:
What do you mean, I am made in the image of G-d? That’s insane. We are all so different, and all so awkward, and hurt each other so much. I’m a lump of flesh – too fat, or too thin, aging too fast with these wrinkles, these pouches.
Not man enough – you call these muscles? Not enough respect or money, not enough authority, enough car, no time to mow the lawn, or own a lawn, or help my kids getA writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. enough school.
Not woman enough – to fix myself, my lovers, my parents, my kids, my boss, my employees. I just want one day to myself, one person to appreciate me – is that so hard?
I’m not radical enough to fix the world, repairing it with my hair or my rhymes or my voice or my blog or my pronouns.
I’m not upright enough to protect my little part of the world that makes sense with my rights and my guns and my suits and my makeup.
I’m not cool enough, not famous enough, not tight enough with my crew or my crowd.
I’m not lovable enough to keep a partner, or to make them happy.
I’m not smart enough to make the world hear the news in the same way I do.
I have to do more. Run faster to catch up, to catch the attention of my boss, stand out with my peers, make a mark.
I tiptoe through the minefield of our days: how do I buy food and water and travel without destroying the environment or harming animals?
I visit my aging parents, knowing that nothing I can do will ease their pain or my loss.
I visit the doctor for antidepressants and screenings, taxes and insurance turning miracles into nightmares.
I listen to the news, the requests for donations, the political pleas, the ocean of quality tv trying to watch it all, so I won’t be left out of conversations.
I carry a world in my pocket, built by tiny fingers in far-off countries, constantly streaming with demands to keep up – to work, to judge, to argue, to demand, to buy, to fill the space.
It’s too much. I’m exhausted. With so much pain, is the illusion of pleasure such a crime? So what if I hide in my crossword, my sports, my shows? So what if I seek out imaginary explosions – am I not allowed to block out the threat of terrorists out there, guns wielded by cops and neighbors in my neighborhood, my sanctuary, my country? Crimes committed and solved in forty-two minutes is a lie, but so what? So what if I ask for a little respect, a little break, a drink, a high, a quickie, a way to feel in control – or to dissolve into nothing for a moment? What’s so wrong about disappearing?
Are our lives too short, or too long, given the mess in our home – the pile of lost jobs, broken relationships, physical pain, clutter of stuff – and in our world – wars, plagues, environmental fragility, corruption. How is it possible that we can be redeemed?
But today…. today, we tell a different story. Today we are reminded – taught anew – that we don’t have to blindly accept these messages, this pile of projections that insist we are insufficient to the wreckage in our lives, the mess we have made of our world. Today we imagine a way out:
Today, if we admit we are crazy in a crazy world, even if we can’t imagine what sanity is like, it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we start to picture peace, even if we hold on to our suffering, it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we ask for help – under our breath, with eyes closed – it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we look down and see the mess we’ve made, even if we are completely overwhelmed with shame, it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we open our mouth to admit one wrong – even if we might make the same mistake again – it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we feel the tiredness in our bones, and breathe out a heavy sigh of – is it relief or despair? – and our head hangs heavy toward our feet, unable to move but asking to be ready to, it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we breathe in and look up and say, “please – please let me make a start,” it will be enough, dayeinu.
Today, if we find one broken thing and pick it up off the floor, it will be enough – dayeinu.
Today, if we hold the broken thing and express some remorse, it will be enough – dayeinu.
Today, if we start a pile of broken things, and stolen things, and useless things – even if we still can’t find the floor – it will be enough – dayeinu.
Today, if we ask for a clean floor – ask for help – even if we still feel embarrassed, it will be enough – dayeinu.
Just today, if I push the mess to the side and offer someone a chair and a cup of tea – a moment to pause and feel grateful, even surrounded by the craziness, it will be enough – dayeinu.
For there is always more available to us than we know, or deserve – more ease, more comfort, more connection, more help. We just have to open our eyes and our mouths and breathe, giving in to this involuntary urge for life. However we have abused ourselves or others, something within us remains pure – a gift that requires only acceptance. Today and every day, as we travel through the wilderness, may we find a moment to pause, stop struggling, and be grateful for the gifts around us, and the gifts within us, and the gifts which we have to give, and the gifts which we are.