Tag Archives: sorrow

yin & yang of independence day


On the Jewish new year, we have a two day celebration, and there is a lot of feasting, and prayers and song… and then we have a fast day immediately after; it is called the fast of Gedalia in memory of a politician who got murdered about two thousand years ago. The fast day fits in right with the holiday, it is a built in anti-climax to the feast.


This week we have Independence Day. It comes with a prologue. The day before is memorial day, and that gives us the opportunity to thank the soldiers who died in defense of our country immediately before celebrating our independence. Each year is somewhat different. There have been times when the excitement and happiness of the holiday filled me before I had adequately mourned for our fallen soldiers. And there were times when I managed to transcend from mourning into joy exactly as prescribed, on the eve of Independence Day.


This year was different for me. I got into reveries of memorial day as never before. Could be because there has been a lot of politics in the air lately; a lot of political controversy here in Israel, and I couldn’t turn on the radio, even to hear the news without being exposed to an overdose of politics. And so, on memorial day, I chose not to listen to the radio as I usually do. Instead of listening to the stories of different soldiers who died in our many disparate wars, I thought back on some of my friends and relatives who had died in action. I got up in the morning and after a short prayer, started listening to a Jewish blues musician whom I thought could well accompany this day’s mood. I opened my mail, and there was a letter from my old friend Alan, who lives in the northern Negev. He wrote about memory and memories, which complemented some of my reflections.


My thoughts were on the painful memories. How to deal with them. There was a time when I was much younger, that I wished to erase them from my mind. I thought I knew how to do that at the time. I left a message with my mind, ‘don’t ever remind me’. And a whole block of memories just disappeared from my thoughts. Till one day, I was struggling with new problems… and decided to do some soul searching. Well what do you know? A whole slew of unexpected memories awoke, all of them ready to party in my head. I tried to relate to them from the perspective of an older man. I wasn’t old then, but I’d had quite a bit of experience since I’d lived those earlier times, and I was able to think of them rationally. It occurred to me that I had been a different man when I had those earlier experiences. I had kept growing… I had kept changing. And the circumstances around me had changed. Thinking about it, those earlier memories were part of an incarnation that I had lived and left. There had been more than one reincarnations since then, and I was truly living another life today. It seemed I could look back and consider the events of that previous lifetime without suffering all the pain.


Thinking back to fighting and war, losing a friend who was a true hero with a lion’s heart… another friend, who had been disadvantaged from childhood, and overcame a handicapped body, built a life for himself, and found a wife and started a family relatively late in life, only to be stabbed in the back by an Arab at a bus stop. He might not even have known what hit him. It’s a hot day in Jerusalem. A taste of summer in the spring. There’s something of a dust cloud over us, blocking out the blue skies. But they say it’ll cool down tomorrow and the skies will clear. It should be a good day for a celebration. I plan to go out on my balcony, and have a picnic there with friends. I used to go out to nature to have that picnic, according to the advice of Rabbi Cook. He said it would be proper to celebrate the holiday by walking at least four paces on our land where we’d never been before. And this was something I enjoyed doing. But then there were more and more people who did likewise, and now there are millions who go out on the holiday, and I don’t want to be caught in a traffic jam in my search for ‘nature’. So I find satisfaction on my back balcony, outside but still attached to home. When you’re fighting for your life… or your country, you like to think of the future, and your hopes for your survivors. You think of destiny. But on independence day this year, I’ll just enjoy the present. I’ll sit with my friends on the balcony, and open a bottle of wine. I’ll enjoy the freedom that those friends dreamed of when fighting our country’s battles.


goodbye don’t lie blues


This ain’t a walk away from Sodom, but there’s no looking back…
so it’s goodbye and good luck, and I’ll be on my way
you were there when I needed you, and there was nothing you lacked…
yet the world is never ending… and I’ve had my stay

there are faces in the crowd that beckon to me
but it’s winter now, and freedom is harder to bear when it’s cold…
though I’ve always liked adventure… you know my friends, I’m getting old…
while trying not to get distracted, by all the wonders I see
or get carried away by a few steps of sunshine warming my back
the burden is heavy, so I’ll be throwing some of my troubles out my sack

went to sleep last night listening to a song from long ago
about a troubled mind and an ache in the heart…
and a whisky sour that lasted as long as the song
while singing the blues, there’s no need to judge between right and wrong…
but the nights are endless, and the coyotes howl at the moon
and thoughts slouch at the bedpost, imagining images of ruin
you can still hear them when you’re taking a nip for the hangover next noon…

the winter wind is blowing, and it carries me away
and there’s blues in the background, whispering to me … what to say
it’s all so tempting to join in with someone else’s blues
to cry my heart out on someone else’s bad news…
I could do it well, I could give it my heart , and you’d be crying too
but when it’s your own song, you’ve got to tell the truth to be really blue
and you got to face it to tell it; and sometimes that’s more than a man can do
I’ll just finish this whisky now… pour it on my head for a healthy douse
’cause I left her singing … she was built like a brick shithouse