imperfection

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The strident cry of an ambulance siren on the freeway, coming in from the north… on it’s way to the hospital on mount scopus, not so far away… begs to remind the speeding drivers that at times, there are incidents even more important than their own intentions. The drivers slow for a moment, moving a little, left or right, to make way for the ambulance. It passes, and the traffic resumes its previous pattern.

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The sun is shining. The skies are blue. A few white cotton clouds floating up there. Blue and white above, and fierce geometric patterns of shadows falling from the corners of stone buildings opposite, across the street. In my pleasant room, there is a light breeze through the open window, and the sounds of overwhelming beauty from the guitar strings of Lanzboim coming through the speakers. The name of the album is ‘Beyond This World’. Life seems as beautiful as it can get. What happens now?

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In the garden of Eden, it seems that our first sin was rampant curiosity… or was it the temptation to experience the forbidden. And then came hatred, jealousy, and murder. I heard on the radio this week, of a young man who died from shooting some designer drug right into his veins. It had been intended for smoking. But he wanted a more intense experience. I hear of bungee-jumping. There are people out there looking for thrills. Sometimes it seems to me that the greatest sin is taking this world and the life we were given for granted.

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And on the other side of the street there are people struggling to overcome a handicap. Some were born blind, and others blinded by illness or accident, and are working hard to appreciate the world with their other senses. Despite their handicaps, they are trying to enjoy the world around them as much as you and I do. And it seems sometimes, as if a handicap can be a present from heaven, reminding us of how precious life is… how precious, that which we do have… and that which we can enjoy.

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A few weeks ago, we were on the balcony with Gila… on another beautiful day like this. We were drinking beer and soaking up the sun. Our friend Ilanit told me that she had heard somewhere that life is like riding a bicycle. If it’s easy, it means you’re going downhill. If it’s hard, it means your climbing. I liked that one.

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Yesterday, I had an early dinner with a friend in the Fortuna restaurant here in Jerusalem. It’s a modest restaurant. You would have trouble finding it, if you weren’t a resident of Jerusalem. The owner prepared the food, and carried it himself to our table. There were quite a few little plates with all kinds of different salads on them. The salads were wonderful… just as good as the main course. The photos on this post are from the machaneh yehudah neighborhood, where the restaurant is found.

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Sitting there, eating my meal, and talking with a friend… after having had my eyes examined by an optical cat scan, and thinking that even blindness might be an experience that could enable an appreciation of life… it occurred to me that we don’t really need a handicap to appreciate life… nor a bungee-jump for the thrill. It is enough to remember that life is a temporary experience. We’re here today, and gone tomorrow. And if we remember that, we should be able to treasure each day, and every experience that comes our way.

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Here in Jerusalem, we have another recipe for keeping life precious. Six days a week, we go about our work and play. And on the seventh, we take a break. A break from all the work and all the regular things; a celebration of life, of simple sensual pleasures like a good meal and a walk… of song… and reading a good book. It works most of the time. But, of course, there is always the temptation to break the rules. This evening, my Sabbath begins with the setting sun. My best wishes to my readers and friends.

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68 responses to “imperfection

  1. And all best wishes to you, Shimon. There can never be too many reminders to take joy in what we have in the here and now. And on that note, I am off up the field to see how my allotment is faring. There will be strawberries to pick and also globe artichokes and red frilly lettuce and the first new potatoes. And over all the bees will be buzzing and buzzing helping to make raspberries for later in the month. What a feast!

    • How wonderful to give the bees something to buzz about, Tish, And your allotment sounds like sheer delight, I love artichokes, and haven’t seen any at the market yet. But all you mention could provide a fine meal. The thought of having a meal that was all the product of your own work is just wonderful. What a joy.

  2. Appreciating every moment is the key….I love the bicycle story:) I will now up/download? Lanzboim’s Beyond This World, and enjoy as I relax in my flat….We have beautiful weather and my windows are wide open…..food in the cupboards, paints and paper galore….what more could anyone want….oh a kitty Kat:) That will come when I find my Marmite Heaven…continue to enjoy.x

    • I think I still haven’t internalized the many possibilities of the internet. The fact that I can mention a piece of music known to a few of my friends here, but unknown to most of the public, and that you can find it and download it, still seems like a miracle to me. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do. So happy to hear of your beautiful weather, and the windows wide open. How I wish I could sing a few meows in your beautiful new flat. So good to hear that all is well, Janet. xxx

  3. It’s funny that you should say that so many take their lives for granted, I was thinking the same thing in the rescue this week, I was looking with dismay at a tiny fragile creature that came in hanging onto life and I was struggling to feed it, and I felt so deeply how very precious each little life is, so I certainly value my own. And I often wonder on the miraculous process that allows life to exist in all it’s diversity at all!
    I think the curiosity and thrill seeking is fairly common in the young, but I’m always surprised to find it in the mature….why do so many always want so much more….and then that’s never enough and becomes boring….onwards and onwards the cycle goes. And all the time there is a wonderful world around us that comes free and is filled with daily delights and wonder, if only we would look.
    Ah yes, life sure is precious, and living in the present is a gift. Marvelous post Shimon, sorry for rambling on though! xxx

    • I listened to Beyond this World and loved it! Thanks for that…I love guitars and he is fantastic….he had me wishing I could hear him live….xxx

      • How wonderful that you were able to find ‘Beyond this World’. That makes me so happy. I listen to him almost every Friday. It helps me get into the mood for Sabbath. But now I have put his album on the player again, just to celebrate your discovering Lanzboim. And I will listen to ‘From This Day On’ after that.

    • Yes, if we’re ever tempted to take life for granted, it does help us regain our perspective to look at the different creatures around us, and to appreciate the way they live their lives. My feeling is that boredom is a sign of apathy… a lack of sensitivity. And my advise to anyone who was bored would be to sit quietly in the park and breathe deeply. At least till a chipmunk climbs down from a tree and kisses him. You never have to worry about rambling on when you’re talking to me, Dina. I love your every word. Glad you enjoyed the post. xxx

  4. So lovely to be with you in spirit, listening to guitar and pondering, cherishing, and lifting up the preciousness of life…I wish you could have a moment here with me today, Shimon: we are enjoying the penultimate “summer day!” Time to drift down into the gardens, but not before I thank you for the time, effort, and loveliness of your post and wish you a gentle, peaceful Sabbath…

    • I do so appreciate that you stopped by, to share a bit of the beautiful day with me on your way to the garden. I love sharing your pictures of your gardens and beautiful environment, Kitty, It is definitely a source of inspiration, and a pleasure to behold. And thank you for your good sabbath wishes. May you have a beautiful week.

  5. Your words move me – so simple yet profound. I am blessed to have found your blog. I think that human beings are both pathetic and inspiring, and I try to be the latter….I am constantly amazed how easily some of us throw life away. But who am I to judge? Maybe they are wise beyond my understanding and they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by risking it all. And maybe not – maybe just totally unaware.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Jo. It is a pleasure for me too, to meet you, and I’ve already visited your blog, and found interesting material there. My doctor told me once, intelligent people look for someone they can learn from… stupid people look for someone more stupid than they are…

      • Ha Ha! That’s a great quote! You and I both know that by the time a person is over a certain age, he or she has probably weeded out the most stupid people from their lives and gotten down to a smaller core of really wise and wonderful friends. That’s why I am so happy to get to know YOU!

  6. Why does it take misfortune for us to apprciate what we have? very good post.

    • We prefer to think of what we want… and it often seems that that’s what we don’t have… Have you read ‘Henerson the Rain King’, Barbara. It comes well recommended.

  7. I’m rushed, at the moment, with deadlines. Thanks for reminding me to slow down enough to enjoy the moment, the little things.

    • It’s part of life, Judy… actually it’s good to rush about at times… just so that isn’t all of life for us… good to slow down now and then too… I was out walking this evening, talking to the local cats… they were sitting in groups of three and four, watching the setting sun… not talking mostly. But now and then, when they would think of something funny… there’d be a short sentence… ah, it’s good to slow down too.

  8. Sometimes I can’t help wondering if much of my discomfort isn’t rooted in my insatiable quest for information … always questioning, always seeking, always wanting to know more … everything that passes through my mind is turned inside-out and then inverted and then filtered through a different colored lens until I’ve attempted to see it from every angle and in every shade of light, and even then, after examining it thoroughly, I still end up feeling like I’m missing something.

    it seems that our first sin was rampant curiosity

    could it be that I confuse the ever-present quest for knowledge with my inability to find satisfaction in the present moment? a good reminder to notice the gifts of abundance that surround us every day

    • hoping you have a peaceful and encouraging Sabbath

      • thanks for your good wishes, my dear friend. The sabbath was good… and then came the bad news…

        • I can’t even begin to comprehend what it is like to have terrorism living at my front door, or how unsettling it must be to be persecuted for how you choose to worship. It truly astounds me that you are able to continue to function in as normal a way as possible, amidst the chaos and fear and sorrow, but I believe that in some way, continuing to live a regular life is a small form of protest, and I am awed to be able to witness even a small slice of that kind of staunch bravery, in the face of evil. I slept restlessly last night, and thought of those boys, and prayed for their safe return. And for civil unrest to find a calm middle ground. Of course, here in the West, we tend to be poor examples of how to live peaceably with those that don’t share our views. I try to placate myself into believing that the possibility still exists. That people can reach towards one another in kindness, rather than with hatred and anger.

          • Thank you very much for your concern and sympathy, N. It is really hard to understand for those who do not live with us, and do not see and feel the life that we live. Not only is the Arab population of Israel treated very well, and with respect, but even the Palestinians who claim that they are being occupied and being mistreated use the health services of Israel and many of the social services, and enjoy freedoms under the government of Israel that Arabs in Arab countries can only dream of. We have to listen to lies told about us in the UN, and in the western countries, and most of us have given up arguing about it (including myself), because a lot of people seem to accept the lies without checking them. Aside from that, we have a long history of suffering unjustified attacks and hatred, so it isn’t something new for us. What gives us strength and hope is that for the first time in two thousand years, we now have our own government, our own army and police force. And this give us an opportunity to defend ourselves. So in many ways, our situation is much better than it once was.

    • Being half cat, N, I too suffer from curiosity… if I’d been in the garden of eden, I would probably been eating the fruit of knowledge even before the snake. What can we do…? We’re made that way… and then punished… I think the best thing is to be nimble enough to make up good excuses. Sending you my heartfelt best wishes, and raising this glass of whisky on ice to you, with the traditional Jewish cheer, ‘to life’.

  9. Shabbat Shalom. The paradoxes of this life are exactly that: paradoxes. As they say, Man thinks, God laughs (sounds better in Yiddish)

    • Thanks Bumba, for adding that quote to the post. Actually, I have heard two other versions of the same. In German, ‘man makes plans, and god laughs’, and then what I heard in yiddish was ‘man tries, and god laughs’. In Hebrew, there’s another quote I like very much, here they say, ‘let me show you from where the fish pisses’. What’s important though, is to know how to laugh along with life. Again, thanks.

  10. I love the image of riding a bike! And I agree wholeheartedly – let’s appreciate and enjoy the things we’re given each day.

  11. I love your photos of Jerusalem, Shimon, and your musings. And while I understand your point that life is a blessing and something not to be wasted or taken for granted, I hope that your CT scan revealed health! Best wishes for a restful Sabbath.
    cathy

    • Actually, Cathy, I have a serious problem in my right eye, and am suffering from cataracts too. It looks like there is some damage that can’t be repaired, but despite my limitations, I can still see. I realize that his is a part of aging, and I am happy with what I can still enjoy in this wonderful life.

  12. I hope you are enjoying your Sabbath, Shimon. Thank you for sharing your corner of the world, and the reminder that each day should be appreciated.

  13. I don’t know if the Eden-story was really like that; maybe someone did write a lovely novel and put some character named Adam and Eve… the Sins are big things still, but the view of sins has changed as times have changed. Many time I think about that, a strange feeling takes my mind and small butterflies roams in my thoughts… when I realize that what surrounds me is a reflection of a fast-paced reality that sometimes holds me tight.
    Sure, maybe we all have a need for something exciting… that’s why I’ve lived in several places, I worked for an airline for a long time… and then I find “something in the middle”: I enjoy every moment of life as if it were your last. Unfortunately when you have kids, you have to readjust your priorities, the whole life, actually 😉 But this is part of our lifes. And I’m very grateful too… Each day is Sabbath for me, every moment I think about my past lives and the futures, I try to stay focused on the track: the law of cause and effect make me think quite often about my behaviour 🙂
    I saw the movie Cloud Atlas… that’s a good example about it, even if quite scary. I wish you a great new week dear Shimon :-)c

    • You raise a number of interesting points here, Claudine. I too see the story of ‘the beginning’ as a parable, and not necessarily an accurate report of something that happened. And while I have great respect for other religions, and other ways of understanding moral questions, different from my own, I believe that there are some moral precepts and concepts that are universal and independent of time. In the case of the Sabbath, I see that day as a counterpoint to the other days of the week. And so, from my point of view, making every day a Sabbath would be like breathing in, but not breathing out… like having yang but ignoring ying. Still, I would enjoy hearing your interpretation of how that could work. As I said, I am always happy to learn new things, and open to new understanding. Thank you very much for your comment.

      • In affirming that every day for me is a day to “celebrate”…
        perhaps the sense of the “day of rest” -the vision that the other days you have to work- is yet another, dear Shimon.
        Christians have their day of rest on Sunday, for a diversity of peoples also the occurrences change.
        I wanted only to express the joy of each new day that I’m alive! And for me is even difficoult because english isn’t my mother toungue! Serenity to you 😀 claudine

        • I have the same problems you do, Claudine. As English is a second language for me too. And I agree with you that it is wonderful to celebrate each new day. I am not an expert on Christianity either, but it seems to me that they adopted a lot of the concepts of Judaism. The idea of our sabbath in the Jewish tradition is that it is a break from what is usual, a day that is in balance with all the rest of the week. Thank you very much for your good wishes, and mine to you.

          • Of course there are a lot of concepts from Judaism!
            Shimon, let’s not forget that Jesus was a Jew 🙂
            For this reason, we find many similarities in Christianity and Judaism… sometimes, I admit, I’m very confused by all these “equalities and inequalities.” As I have already stated several times, I feel so very sad to see that all the differences in creed (religions) leads to disagreements and wars between peoples… and I’d rather not go into the details.
            Also for this reason, I took the “Buddhist Path” as the only universal possibility to finally find peace in every nation, in every faith, in every people. Hugs 🙂

  14. Oh my friend….♥
    vento

  15. A wonderful reminder of how precious life is, Shimon. If only we could learn to savour every moment, life wouldn’t fly by at such a speed.

    • It seems to me that life passes more quickly, the older we get. But as you say, there is so much more of life when we savour it. Thank you very much for your comment, anotherday2paradise.

  16. Love the link between the ambulance and its siren to the Sabbath. Life is precious, thus important for everyone to be aware of their surrounds without getting sucked into every temptation it offers. Best wishes for positive eye results.

  17. The central descriptor of our very being: Imperfection. You remind us that the imperfect life is still worth living, but that we should embrace its fragile beauties mindfully as we go, lest we miss them entirely in our preoccupation. Always a joy to read your meditation-inspiring writings, my friend.

    • Ah yes, Kathryn. What a blessing it is, even to live an imperfect life. Thank you so much for your kind words, And how right you are about the fragile beauties. Their very fragility arouses our nobility, and offers us hope. Thank you so much for your comment.

  18. I hope you enjoyed your Sabbath Shimon. When I was a child Sunday opening was unheard of and Sunday was indeed a day of rest, a day to spend with the family, it was the day I got to see my Dad, no overtime on Sundays. It was indeed a special day. The only shop open would be the newspaper shop and only up until 10. I miss those times. We planned for the day when the shops were closed. Occasionally we’d run out of milk and not be able to go and get some, we survived without the 24 hour shopping culture imported from the U.S. Now people go shopping on Sundays, as a family for sure, but I think sailing or biking, visiting a museum, would be preferable to visiting a supermarket. These are the times we live in. I very much enjoyed your post Shimon and your thoughts. Lovely pictures as always.

    • It does seem as if the modern world is constantly active, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. Here in Jerusalem, most of the shops are closed on the sabbath, which is on Saturday. According to our tradition, observing the sabbath is a very refreshing experience. It is a break from the usual activities, and it provides the sort of peace that one gets from sleep after a full day. Of course, people are awake during the day, and enjoying themselves. But the change of pace brings new strength and appetite for life itself. Thanks, Chillbrook.

  19. I dwelt long over the Mechaneh Yehudah photo. I was drawn to the recognition of the location before I saw its written name. During the last seven days, I was mentally and emotionally revisiting places I had become familiar with in Jerusalem, through my archives of photos, which I had taken. The MY was very much one of those places.

    There are a lot of simple and complex joys in life, and yes, if the bike is not meeting resistance, you definitely are not climbing. I had to stop and think as to whether seeking thrills was taking life for granted, or, by that point in the hedonistic process, was it ‘simply’ a taking of ones own life because of the inability to consider consequences. There is no one monochrome answer.

    An optical CT scan sounds very specialised. I wish you well.

    ‘Stop The World I want To Get Off!’ wells up in my thoughts when I analyse the daily activities you show us. The Sabbath provides the metaphorical bus stop.

    • Yes, Machaneh Yehudah is a very special place… both the market, and the residential area around it. How good it is to go through photos, and revisit memories. As for what you say about seeking thrills… I imagine that you are right… that there are many ways of looking at such activity. In my own life, I have found that the greatest happiness didn’t come from thrills. I suppose I had enough adrenalin experiences just from life as I was given it… without looking for that. Thank you very much for your good wishes, menhir. I’ve been having trouble relating to the blog recently. There has been too much excitement in this life around me.

  20. I have to admit that I am one who pushes the envelope. well, Pushed, might be a better word. As I age, it gets harder to push…and or open the envelope. I can fly a plane yet I can not stand at the edge of a cliff or atop a high building. I do agree that down time is just as important. Pushing the envelope is what helped me to become a trauma surgeon. And now….I miss it ! Beautiful city Shimon.

    • I am sure that were we closer to one another geographically, I could have learned a lot from you, Bob. I’m very glad you made it to be a surgeon, and that you had a good life… even if you’re slowing down a bit these days. There are so many different worlds, and different experiences to be found in this world, and through friends. Each of us chooses a bit, and declines other opportunities while chasing after that which attracts or mystifies us.

  21. Thank you for your good wishes, Mr. Shimon! And, thank you for the reminder — “we we should be able to treasure each day, and every experience that comes our way”. Well said.

  22. Always a pleasure reading your thought provoking posts Shimon. And the stroll through the Machaneh Yehudah neighbourhood was equally enjoyable. Thank you.

    • Very glad you enjoyed it, Madhu. Every country has its advantages and disadvantages… in some countries, people suffer from volcanoes, or tornadoes, or hunger… Right now, in my country, we are suffering from still another war. It is hard to take I pray for it to pass. Thank you for your comment.

  23. Caught-up in my own hectic pace, it’s always nice to slow down and stop-in for a visit. Thank you for sharing your perspective, Shimon…timely reminders…..

  24. I love the bicycle analogy. Your articles are a pleasure to read, Shimon. I wish everyone saw the world like you – there would certainly be less unhappiness and conflict.

    • Thanks for coming by and your comment, Ram. It would be so much better if there was less conflict… but living this life, we realize that an important part of life itself, is learning to live with the differences…

  25. We need these cycles of work and rest, and often, unless they are mandated we will run ourselves weary. We need that commandment to take a sabbath for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

    Thank you for introducing me to Lanzbom. I found his music on Youtube – wonderful music.

    • So glad you enjoyed the music of Lanzbom, yearstricken. I do listen to him quite often. And yes, the sabbath helps us return to proper perspective, and sometimes to gain the strength with which to go on. When in your country, I heard the expression, ‘give me a break’. And it seems to me that that is what the sabbath is all about.

  26. Throughout your life, did you subscribe to the same philosophy? I did not. My parents were hard-working, self-educated, skilled laborers who held respectable community positions in a small rural community. I had no idea that we were poor by today’s standards. They believed that education was the most important single thing they could give to their children. With that background, I worked toward financial security as the means of insulating myself from the whims of fate of an employer. And, I worked all the time. No vacations, no holidays. I worked. It was only within the last ten years that I discovered the concept of “rest”. And, it was only with the security that money could insulate me. Now, that sounds crass and materialistic, but I think it is what drives young people. I used to call it “keeping the wolf away from the door”. Chuckle… Now, I spend my days doing precisely what I want to do. I am happy. I suppose most of my days are “Sabbaths”. Was it worth it? Yes. This was a thoughtful post, Shimon. I enjoyed it very much.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, George… it was half a year ago, and it took me till now to get back to it. But I do appreciate your comment. My life started out in the worst possible circumstances… a man made hell… we didn’t worry about the wolf getting to the door; murdering madmen had gotten in, and there was blood on the floor… and though I was offered great wisdom, I was full of suspicion and doubt as soon as I could think for myself. So I spent quite a few years, checking out other places and people in the world, trying to understand why things were the way I found them. After a period of time, I returned to values of my parents, and my culture. But learned a lot from others.

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