When Do You Become Old?

Is being old an age, a feeling, or both?


Some people seem to get old before their time.


They go about echting and kretzching–at 40 and 50, they are saying this hurts and I feel crummy about that!  Nu, I’m not 18 anymore!


Other people never, literally almost never seem to get old.


One lady I know is going to be 94 this month and she is going strong mentally, emotionally, and physically.  It almost seems impossible.  


This guy in the photo has a funny shirt on that says:

“I thought growing old would take longer.”


Yeah, it does sort of creep up on you, but really, really fast.  Like where the heck did that come from!


I know inside for me, I always still feel like a kid. 


I have the same funny side, playful side, and curious side; the desire to be productive and accomplish something meaningful with my life and time, and to love and be loved. 


Yeah, things hurt a little more than they did years ago–can’t believe the things I used to be able to do–Yes, at one time, I use to break cinder blocks with my bare hands, true!


But now, I can do other things like swim and hike and I love to write things that I am passionate about or to be a little creative too!


Maybe we do not get old…maybe we are just like caterpillars that morph into something else like butterflies during this life and into the life beyond. 


Age is experience, learning, growth–lots of mistakes–and then recovering and trying again and harder.  


Life is wonderment and excitement and appreciation for every amazing beautiful thing. 


No, life does not get old. 


Suffering and loss gets old quick and wish it never was. 


But we are physical bodies with eternal souls, so we go on and on into the wild blue yonder. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Going Back To Ulpan

So yesterday, I started Ulpan classes to improve my Hebrew language skills (currently, I’m not very skillful with it).


It was 2.5 hours and it was such a joy for me and my wife and one of my daughter to have the wonderful opportunity to participate in this. 


It wasn’t like in Yeshiva where we focused on learning the Biblical and prayer book Hebrew, and on Aramaic from the Talmud, but was more focused on modern-day conversational Hebrew. 


I loved learning and speaking the words, for example to describe a large cosmopolitan city like Tel Aviv. 


We also listened to recordings of others speaking, read the text, and learned verbs. 


It reminded me of my mom, who also used to love to take Ulpan, and carried around her notebook with the Hebrew words and their translation and the many descriptive verbs–she was so happy learning and practicing. 


Given my horrible language skills, it was funny for me that I was asked if I wanted to join the advanced class…ah, no!  (or at least not yet…)


While so many languages (and cultures) have died over the ages, Hebrew and the modern State of Israel is a complete revival–it’s truly miraculous!


There were people in the class from Asia, South America, and all over the world!


And from all the people there, I felt a tremendous love not only for the language, but for the land of Israel, and the Jewish people. 


I wish like this beautiful language we all embraced, everyone could love and not hate us anymore!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Happy Just The Way We Are

Great speaker today at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Mike Reiss, producer and writer for the hugely successful Simpson show–the longest-running series on primetime TV with 30 seasons and over 600 episodes!


The topic was “The Science Behind The Simpsons.”


Whether the guest was Stephen Hawkings or Leonard Nimoy–there was no shortage of scientists and science in this animated, comedy show that taught us much about life.  


The video clip above was a short capture of the Simpsons singing “We are happy just the way we are.”


Incremental change and continuous improvement is so important to our growth and maturation in life.


Yet, there is also a lot to be said for being happy with what you have and who you are. 


There is so much to be grateful for and plenty to enjoy at the moment. 


Many people are on the proverbial roller coaster to nowhere.  


It’s nice to get off the roller coaster and finally be somewhere that makes you happy and fulfilled. 


Mary Poppins get hit by the airplane at the end of the skit, and you know what, she’s not even missed. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Beautiful Virus, Huh?

So this is an image of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.


Yeah, I never heard of it either. 


It is a virus that attacks and destroys tobacco and other plants. 


Viruses are ugly and evil in that they hurt and kill other living things


Yet in looking at this molecular image, I seriously hate to say it, but it is also beautiful in a way. 


The shape, color, complexity–the design and wisdom embedded in it–what can I say, but even this too is a miracle. 


Sure, it would be better in a mortal sense if there were no viruses to make us suffer and literally eat away at us. 


Yet, surely G-d has a plan even for these nasty virus molecules.  


Do they help us gain immunity to even worse diseases?


Do they help us to use ingenuity to discover, fight, and evolve to withstand their attacks and progress our society in larger ways?


Do they help us learn however horribly to turn to G-d, strengthen ourselves, and somehow try to cope with suffering and loss in life and death.


All sickness is unbelievably horrible and the suffering it causes is truly impossible to understand, and G-d should please, please have mercy on us. 


Yet, looking at this molecular image of even this virus, there is something comforting in the supreme intelligent design and creation of it all.  😉


(Source Andy’s photo of image by Visual Molecular Dynamics)

Don’t / Can’t – Turn Back Now

My father used to say a very wise thing:

You can only go forward.
You can’t go back.


Often in life, I reflect on how wise this is and he was. 


Sometimes, we are hesitant or afraid of what lies ahead, and we turn our heads back and reinvent history and creatively fantasize how wonderful things were before and maybe we should go back.


Like the Israelites thousands of years ago, who G-d redeemed from the servitude of Egypt, but with hundreds of years of a slave mentality, they were in a sense paralyzed with fear of going into the foreboding expanse of the desert. 

“If only we had died by the L-rd’s hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted. But You have brought us out to this dessert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)


But we know that going forward is the only way to learn, grow, and progress. 


Just like the Israelites that went forward through the depths of the Red Sea on dry land and to receive the Torah on Sinai and for forty years in the desert to ultimately get to the amazing promised land of Israel. 


Thank G-d, they didn’t turn back–there really was no turning back.


Back is death.  


Forward is life. 


We have a journey that we need to complete. 


The destination is wherever G-d takes us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everything Is 4 The Best

So it’s easy to get down on life when bad things happen. 


But it’s funny how when we just take a little perspective or in retrospect…


We realize that everything G-d does is really for our best!


It may not look and feel that way at the moment. 


But there comes an inner awakening about things when we see the bigger picture. 


And then we sort of nod our heads knowingly:

“Ah, that’s why that happened!”


There are many reasons, G-d may be directing something: 


– Opening new and better opportunities for us. 


– Teaching us important life lessons.


– Putting us someplace we need to be to help someone else. 


– Even saving us from some worse catastrophe. 


For G-d, there is no time or space–He supersedes all of these. 


He puts us where we need to be when we need to be for His bigger plan for our good. 


Also, when you think you have a problem, remember to look at what others may be going through.


Because there are problems and then there are problems!


As my dad used to say:

“The guy complained he had no shoes, until he saw the guy without any feet!”


Is your problem really so bad–maybe yes, maybe no.


Try for a second to think of others you know and what they are going through. 


Imagine for a moment–what does really bad look like, feels like. 


G-d works in what seems like mysterious ways.


But we can uncover the mystery and discover the holiness and grand plan of it all–if we just look beyond ourselves and towards the heavens.


Oh G-d, thank you for all that you do for us–your wisdom is glorious; your lessons are to teach me to be a better me; and your mercy endures forever. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Growing With The Challenge

Thought this was a good saying, and wanted to share it.

“A man grows with the greatness of his task.”


In Hebrew, there is a similar saying:

“Lefum Tzaara Agra.” (Which translates roughly too: “As the suffering, so to is the reward.”)

Adversity, hardships, challenges, pain, suffering–these all test our mettle.


Obviously, these are not fun, but in the end, we are forced to grow from these experiences. 


– What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Sometimes though, they really can kill us. 


So, push yourself as far and as fast as you can, but also you better know your true limits. 


And we all have them, even when we think we’re invincible. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)