Helpless And Helping

Feet

The following is all true.


So I dreamed last night a scary dream…


I was lying prone in a horizontal but bent position.


My clothes were tattered rags and my legs bare.


I could see my legs, but could not move them–at all. 


The bottom of the legs by the ankles were completely skinny, diseased and bright sore red (like burnt), and the skin was falling off them.


I knew I was in immense pain, but could not feel anything.


My legs completely useless, in hopelessness, I looked upward and called out:


“Father! Father! Father!” 


I was looking for my dad, and hoping for him to come and help me somehow. 


Then, my voice turned and called:


“Father that art in heaven” and repeated this again. 


I was turning to G-d as the only one who could help me when everything else was stripped away. 


Then I awoke, and I was very afraid and yet somehow comforted–I had turned heavenward and found G-d. 


Later this morning, I went to the pool for a swim and as part of my post surgery rehabilitation. 


As I was swimming, I saw an old somewhat hunchback lady come to the pool.


I recognized her from other days when she does a little self-defined exercise routine against the side of the pool. 


But today, her lane at the sides were taken. 


Seeing that she was upset and couldn’t do her exercise in the center of the pool, I stopped swimming and went over to her.


I said, “Why don’t you share with me (there is plenty of room)?”


She hesitated and I could see maybe she needed help getting under the swim rope that divides the lanes, so I lifted it for her and told her reassuringly, “It’s no problem.”


And then she went under and did her exercise thing–and we shared.


It was such a small thing for me, but yet I could see it was a big deal for her–she was old and I could tell that she needed her routine.

The following is all true.


So I dreamed last night a scary dream…


I was lying prone in a horizontal but bent position.


My clothes were tattered rags and my legs bare.


I could see my legs, but could not move them–at all. 


The bottom of the legs by the ankles were completely skinny, diseased and bright sore red (like burnt), and the skin was falling off them.


I knew I was in immense pain, but could not feel anything.


My legs completely useless, in hopelessness, I looked upward and called out:


“Father! Father! Father!” 


I was looking for my dad (who I know deeply loved me and vice versa), and hoping for him to come and help me somehow. 


Then, my voice turned and called:


“Father that art in heaven” and repeated this again. 


I was turning to G-d as the only one who could help me when everything else was stripped away. 


Then I awoke, and I was very afraid and yet somehow comforted–I had turned heavenward and found G-d. 


Later this morning, I went to the pool for a swim and as part of my post surgery rehabilitation. 


As I was swimming, I saw an old somewhat hunchback lady come to the pool.


I recognized her from other days when she does a little self-defined exercise routine against the side of the pool. 


But today, her lane at the sides were taken. 


Seeing that she was upset and couldn’t do her exercise in the center of the pool, I stopped swimming and went over to her.


I said, “Why don’t you share with me (there is plenty of room)?”


She hesitated and I could see maybe she needed help getting under the swim rope that divides the lanes, so I lifted it for her and told her reassuringly, “It’s no problem.”


And then she went under and did her exercise thing–and we shared.


It was such a small thing for me, but yet I could see it was a big deal for her–she was old and I could tell that she needed her routine.


Sort of funny but, when I offered to help, I could practically here the angels of heaven let out a little song of joy–seriously, I did. 


And I thought to myself…Andy, you can learn!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


Sort of funny but, when I offered to help, I could practically here the angels of heaven let out a little song of joy–seriously, I did. 


And I thought to myself…Andy, you can learn!  😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Everyday, A Catch-22

Catch-22
I took this photo of this guys’ cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 



Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.



Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.



In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 



Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can’t unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can’t look for them.



In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22’s, however not solving them is not an option…we must come up with a workable solution.



At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 



At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 



With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 



With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren’t just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 



The list of life’s conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face…there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard…you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Good Spreads Good

good Samaritan
This was a nice note to see this morning at the parking garage. 



“To the good samaritan who picked up an Amex card on 11/3: Thank you! You are awesome.”



Look at how good deeds work and spread:



Someone lost their Amex credit card.



Another found it and went out of their way to take the time to safeguard it and turn it in.



The person who lost it then got to recognize the kind act and in turn make the effort to write this nice thank you note and post it. 



Other people passing this by get to see this and learn from it, and hopefully do similar nice things when they are presented the opportunity.



Do you look the other way and run off to do just your own (selfish) things or do you take the time to help others when they are in need?  



The answer may not be obvious to everyone or all the time, but we can all learn and grow. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Now’s Your Chance To Make Things Right

Beliefs

Day 4…pain gradually subsiding, walking improving.

Still pushing my body…walk, ice, walk, ice.

But more than the physical, I realized that I was going through something far more spiritual in my journey.

People are coming out of the woodwork telling me their travails through these surgeries.

One old time friend, welcomed me to the “Hip Club”–her new hip is 4 years old, but I didn’t even know she had it done (albeit that we only keep in touch through Facebook these days).

Another, my neighbor, had knee replacement in 2011–again, was I too busy or blind to know–I felt like an absolute card. She in particular told me again and again, “I cried, I cried.”

Later in the day, as I am trying to figure it all out–how am I going to get everything done and back on my feet, my wife says to me, “Now’s your chance to make things right!”

Then it hit me, that while I always try to think of myself as trying to do what’s right, I wasn’t doing enough.

Open your eyes Andy.

There are lot’s of people that are in pain, that are crying, that need help.

What are you doing about it?

Do you even see them?

Are you aware they are there?

WAKE UP CALL.

Do Better, Make things right. Try harder. Do More.

It’s not too late.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Will You Take The Next Exit Or Not?

Will You Take The Next Exit Or Not?

I’m not really into the psychic stuff.

First, I learned in Yeshiva that we are not supposed to divine the future.

Second, I don’t think we’re supposed to know what we’re not supposed to know–it take the edge of the challenge in life (almost like trying to gain an unfair advantage in going through life’s ups and downs, which is how we learn and grow).

Third, I think there are a lot of charlatans out there (not everyone, but a lot).

But one idea recently, from Sylvia Brown, has got me thinking.

The idea is that we each have Exit Points in our lives–“precise times and ways when we’ll leave here and go Home again.”

Brown says we each have 5 of these exits planned in our lives–“and we can use any one of the five we want, as we go along, depending on whether or not we feel we’ve accomplished enough of what we wanted from this lifetime to begin with.”

Thinking back to my own life, I can clearly see times when it seemed like my number was up.

Each occurrence was dramatic and looking back now, sort of surreal.

During these exit points, I know that I was just inches from death and that G-d brought me back.

This is where I differ from Brown, I don’t think it was my choice to live or die, but I think it was a time of judgement, when G-d decided whether to let me live on (although, perhaps, I had some input as far as G-d is concerned).

The exit points are not escape hatches like from the Matrix, where we can choose to stop or “exit program,” but rather times in our lives when we are given the opportunity to go on or not.

Also, I think the decision of whether we stay or go is based in part on whether we’ve accomplished our mission, but also on those around us who will be impacted–that’s why it takes G-d to figure out all the combinations and permutations to make the call.

Bad things happen and people die suddenly and violently or even excruciatingly slow and painful deaths–and in other cases people survive to die another day–we really don’t know what is going to happen.

Part of not knowing tests us–sometimes to our limits and perhaps for some even beyond (although I was taught in Yeshiva that G-d never gives us more than we can handle).

We live, we die, and perhaps we live again i.e. through reincarnation–a mechanism of ultimate justice and learning.

Will G-d permit us to continue as ourselves in this go around, to come back as another in a future spiral, or is it really “game over”?

I thank G-d for letting me live to continue my journey–I still have so much to learn here and now–what the future brings, only the merciful Almighty knows. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

There’s No Line In Online

There's No Line In Online

I loved the article in the Wall Street Journal By Andy Kessler.

Kessler’s point is that technology is all about convenience.

The way I put it is that online, there is no line!

With technology, we can do things proverbially–better, faster, cheaper.

But so much of technology really is about doing things with the utmost convenience–that means that rather then spend time hunting or gathering, searching or shopping, traveling or transacting, gaming or gambling, we can go online and in Internet speed it’s done!

The beauty of the Internet and technology is that there is no queue, no lines, no waiting–just lots of convenience mainly with point and click.

I couldn’t hate lines more–hate wasting time–hate doing stupid things that have no real meaning–>time is absolutely precious!

We are mortal and one day, time stops for all of us, so we better use what we have well–use it wisely, not wastefully.

When we have convenience from technology, we have to spend less time on the mundane and have more time to do the things we really enjoy or that can grow us.

So get the doldrums done quickly online, and spend more time with family and friends, on fitness, pursing spiritual matters, and even learning the secrets of the universe–and then blogging about them.

Technology is a convenience and a true G-dsend. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hiring and Marrying Great People–Is It Random or Predictable?

The Atlantic (21 June 2013) has a startling article about hiring at Google–“It’s a complete random mess.”

With all the Google information genius and the brainteasers they test people with, all the rounds of interviews they put them through, they found “zero relationship” between how people scored in tens of thousands of interviews and how they performed in their jobs.

No only didn’t the interviews predict good hires, but “colleges didn’t matter, GPAs…didn’t matter.”

Only one guy who was the world’s leading expert in something, and was hiring for a very specialized area seemed to be able to weed out the wheat from the chaff in interviews.

“People are complicated, organizations are complicated, matching people with organizations is complicated.”

This reminds me of what it’s like to match people for intimate relationships…very, very difficult. Sort of like, men are complicated, women are complicated, and matching men and women is complicated.

Whether matching people to organizations or to each other, getting a good Shidduch is a big challenge and hard to predict the outcome.

Perhaps that is why the average person goes through seven careers in a lifetime and “50% of all marriages in America end in divorce.”

Making a good match with a company or a person is hard–because as I heard as a teenager, “you never know what the person is really like until you wake up with them in the morning”–morning breath, hair messed, bad dreams, pissy moods, and all.

Similarly, with a company, until you work there and actually have to live the culture and deal with the people, policies, and politics, you won’t really know what it’s like just by asking around and reading up about them on Glassdoor.

Also, not only do you have imperfect information about the people and jobs when you try and match them up, but people change (organizations do to, but much more slowly–it’s a bigger ship to turn around).

Yes, while past performance are predictors of future performance–good skills and bad habits, they do stick around–at the same time, people do learn, grow, mature, and change–hopefully for the better.

As the old Jewish saying goes, “with age, comes wisdom”–and hopefully, more mature and better ways of dealing and coping with challenging and complex people and situations.

So what should you look for–whether in a new hire or a marriage mate?

Start with a good heart and a good fit; look for a track record of success in life, a hunger to succeed personally and professionally, someone willing to learn and grow, and not be afraid to work hard, have some failures, and get back on their feet again–that’s life.

Say a prayer and don’t be fooled by the superficial things or what people just say to get the job or the mate–look for what they do (action speaks louder than words) and remember, personal beauty is more than just skin deep. 😉

Baby Frog, See You Now

Baby Frog, See You Now

So I took this picture of this baby frog while hiking.

This was the first one we saw–on the foliage it completely blended in, but on the rocks we could see it clearly.

It was so little and cute–I had to zoom in to get this shot.

After this, it actually jumped under a log and I got an action photo of its hind legs in mid-jump–going what seemed like super-frog speed.

Once, I was attuned to the frogs color and motion, I was able to detect many of them in the forest today–all pretty much like this little baby.

It was interesting to me learning from this, how before we are aware of something–it’s as if it doesn’t even exist (even with subtle ribbits in the air); and after you are sort of clued in to the surroundings, you almost can’t help but see them.

To me, it’s like life in general, when you don’t see your own issues or life challenges, you can’t even begin to work on them because your virtually oblivious to them, but once you see yourself for what you are–warts and all–you can begin to work through your problems, as if you have almost transcendental awareness.

A little camouflaged frog, like subtle personal issues may be almost imperceptible in the forest of life, but against a contrasting background, you can get amazing clarity–to self-help and self-heal.

Cute little frog, I can see you now and your not jumping away from me anymore. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

So Sorry, Charlie

So Sorry, Charlie

In the old Starkist Tuna commercials, Charlie the cool tuna thinks he’s all that, but he keeps getting rejected by Starkist, because he’s just not good enough and then the narrator comes on and says, “Sorry Charlie!”

These days, from my perspective, people often do not take responsibility when they mess up and arrogantly they can’t bring themselves to just say, “I’m sorry”–it was my responsibility, I messed up, and I am committed to doing better in the future.

It’s really not so hard to say sorry, if you let your ego go. Most often, from what I’ve seen, unless the boss, spouse, or friend is just a jerk, saying sorry goes a long way to making things right–it shows you care about the relationship, your human and fallible (like the rest of us) and you are able to introspect, self-help, and learn from mistakes.

In contrast, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18 April 2013) says sillily, “Don’t Apologize”–that refusing to apologize makes a person feel better about themselves, more powerful, and less of a victim.

Certainly, we don’t want to apologize for things we didn’t do, when we really don’t mean it, or to give someone on a pure power binge the satisfaction of making us beg–in those cases, we should be truthful and respectful and set the record straight. We should also, make it clear that we will not be victimized by anyone, at anytime.

But when we are wrong–and it’s not easy for everyone to recognize or admit it–just say so. It won’t kill you and you’ll usually see the other person lighten up on the punishing diatribe and maybe even admit their part in it or the stupid things they may have done at other times.

No one is so perfect–despite some very large egos out there. And the bigger the ego, the bigger the jerk. The humbler the person, the nicer and more workable they are.

Don’t apologize for things you didn’t do or to satisfy someone’s bullying, but do apologize when you could’ve done better and you are committed to improving yourself and building the relationship.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Walking On Rocks

Walking On Rocks

The first few times when I started hiking, I had this paradigm that I had to walk between the rocks–sort of like hopscotch–then I realized that I could walk on them.

For a long time, I had heard about how thinking within the box constrains our thought processes and innovation.

It was interesting for me to see this in action just by the way I initially viewed a basic skill like hiking.

The paradigms we use to view the world alter what we think and do, and only when we break out of the proverbial box we are in, can we really see and be open to other ways of being and doing things.

You can walk between the rocks or you can climb over them–whatever works best for you–just be open to seeing things in many different ways.

No one way is necessarily better than another–they are just different and each useful in their own time and place. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)