It’s Not (Always) Easy

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Sometimes, we see people–especially on social media these days–and they look “all that!”–so happy, so loved, so rich, so with everything–so it seems (superficially). 


But there is definitely another reality out there, and that is that everyone has problems:


– Family

– Health

– Finances

– Work

– School

– Conflict

– Spiritual


Like Helen Keller said: 

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”


I remember as a child, if I felt sad about something, my dad at times would remind me about the children in the hospital, and to think about how we can help others less fortunate–and he was right!


What I see in life is a lot of people trying, but also so many challenges, failures, and suffering along the way…unfortunately, it’s part of the learning and growth equation, and in why we’re here. 


In college, I always remember one (English) professor who taught me from Henry David Thoreau:

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”


Sometimes, in our solitude or when we speak quietly from our heart with our closest loved ones, we feel and express some of those deep feelings of hurt, pain, and suffering from our lives.  


Those experiences, memories, and feelings are not all that there is of us, but it is certainly a part of all of us–although maybe only the brave will admit theirs.


It’s not shameful to feel, to cry, and to be human. 


It’s certainly not what Facebook and Twitter are all about. 


But it’s a genuine and critical part of us which recognizes as my dad also taught me that–life is not easy–and that we have to fight every day to do our best and to help others to do theirs. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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(Not) Too Hard!

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So there is someone that I think the world of. 


They are what we call “good people.”


But like all of us, have challenges and difficulties in life. 


Maybe their load is heavier and more taxing. 


But it is what G-d has given them to bear and to work with. 


In talking with this person, at one point, they said, “It’s too hard!”


And I think we all feel that way sometimes.


Bret Stephens quoted Bernard Lewis in the Wall Street Journal today, that in trying times, some ask, “Who did this to us?” While others ask, “What did we do wrong?”

Maybe the question should be, “What can we do now?”


While some throw in the towel and can’t go on or go on in a bad way, others may get angry and bitter at their lot in life.


But yet like my inspiration, Rocky, some get up and fight for what they want. 


The down is only a temporary down, but not a knockout. 


The pain stings and hurts and leaves us blurry-eyed and dizzy, but our desire to succeed pushes the adrenaline through our coursing veins, and we get up again with even a greater determination. 


“The eye of the tiger, the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenges of our rivals…”


I take responsibility. I take accountability. I want to overcome. 


I shall prevail in life and even ultimately in death, my life will mean something to somebody. 


The end is the beginning again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Should You MYOB?

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Great Salt And Pepper comic in the Wall Street Journal today.

“What makes you think the meaning of life

is any of your business.”

Man goes to mountain. 

Man seeks to know the meaning of his existence. 

Mountain tells man to mind your own business.

I guess it’s just not that easy. 

No one will just tell us how each of us is to make our difference in this world. 

Of course, there is faith and religious teachings to guide us.

But each and every one of us must find our path to G-d and our mission to his world. 

In doing that we struggle through life’s trials and tribulations. 

It is painful at times, but we change and grow especially when the pain of what we are doing wrong becomes greater than the pleasure we gain from it. 

The meaning is in the journey and in the destination we seek. 

Our paths are not straight, but winding and hilly and not without obstacles–but it is a trek not only to the mountain, but to the very heavens itself. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Did G-d Create The World?

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So we met the Rabbi at Starbucks for a coffee and conversation. 



We talked about such a wide variety of topics–the Ten Commandments, the laws of Shabbat, driverless cars and smartphones, women’s minyan (prayer services), and even LGBT.



Not sure how this came up, but at one point the Rabbi turns to us and asks, “Why did G-d create the world?”



Taken a little off guard by this very big question, I blurted out, “To get to the other side!”



I thought he was going to fall off his chair, and then we all laughed. 



But then we started to discuss some of the traditional answers like G-d out his infinite love created us with a spark of himself.



In very mortal terms, I guess maybe it’s not so fun to be G-d (omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent) but be alone in the universe.



By creating us, His children, he gave the gift of life, learning, and growth for us to emulate the Divine. 



What about all the terrible suffering?



Perhaps just part of our tests, trials, and tribulations to ultimately grow our souls. 



Still it’s a tough world. 



I wonder maybe “to get to the other side”–for us to get to Heaven–isn’t such a bad answer after all (even if it comes from the chicken crossing the road joke). 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Heaven To Look Forward To

Heaven To Look Forward To

Took the family today to see the movie Heaven Is Real.

We were all crying like babies, including me.

Loved it!

When the boy has a near-death experience (NDE) and sees heaven, he comes back with stories about it being like here but more beautiful, where everyone is young, and relatives long gone hug him.

In heaven, there is no hate or fear–only love.

It was eye-opening, when his father, a pastor, goes to the hospital to say the last prayers with a dying man and the pastor asks, “Do you have any regrets?” and the old man answers, “I regret everything!”

While living for our selfish satisfaction and fun may be great for a moment’s high, it is certainly not a life of meaning and purpose–and will not open the gates of heaven to us.

That life is hard is portrayed in the movie–with loss, physical hurt, and financial hardships.

But when these are viewed in the bigger picture as tests in life for us to overcome in order to merit a heaven that awaits us–perhaps this gives us some added perspective.

In the movie, as in real life, there are those who are angry at others and G-d for what they lost, and it is our challenge to replace that anger with understanding, forgiveness, and love of each other and the Almighty.

Regretting everything is tragic, but probably not that unrealistic for many of us…particularly in a world where we constantly strive for our individualized versions of perfection.

In the end, I think our failures weigh on us and it’s challenging to see past them to appreciate our successes as well–in whatever measure we’ve achieved them.

Let’s face it, it is not easy to maintain 100% purity of heart amidst a world of lust, envy, and sin–but that should not take away from us constantly trying.

Heaven awaits–even the imperfect. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bird Tries Again And Again

Bird Tries Again And Again

My daughter, Rebecca and I watched an amazing sight yesterday.

We sat on the beach before sunset to enjoy the ocean and sand without the crowds.

It wasn’t cold, but the wind was blowing somewhat strong toward the south.

There were four kite surfers enjoying the gusts and gliding over the water at enormous speeds, and curving this way and that.

But this isn’t what really got our attention.

Instead, it was this one little white bird…I don’t know specifically the type, but if I had to guess I’d say it was a dove.

The dove was flying not with the wind southernly, but against it to the north.

In the heavy wind, it would sort of hold it’s position for a little, and then try with all it’s might to fly north.

But the wind was too strong, and it kept tiring and then literally nosediving–head first, straight down like off a cliff–into the water, bam!

We watched this and thought at first what is with this crazy bird–and laughed.

But over and over again this played out–I think we watched this for nearly an hour!

After each attempt, the bird would pick itself out of the ocean water again, fly back south a little seemingly to get some momentum–only to try again and end up on it’s face in the water.

Reflecting on this, the bird tried again and again to make headway, no matter how many times it fell flat on it’s face.

I thought this is a good lesson in life–not to give up even when things seems difficult.

If this little bird could do it–so could we–and eventually succeed at whatever we set our minds to.

If the white little bird really was a dove–the symbol for peace–then what better story to keep trying until you succeed and make flight even against the strong wind. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Arms and Legs Can’t Touch

Unbelievable video of Nick Vujicic coaching people to believe in themselves.The catch is that Nick himself is missing all four limbs.Yet he shows how he can–without arms and legs–run, boat, dive, fish, water slide, play soccer, golf, and much more.I love when he says with conviction:

– “Forget about what you don’t have. Be grateful for what you do have.”

– Don’t be angry at your life and at others.

– You are worthwhile and you are beautiful.

– You have the strength to conquer.

I am inspired–no, I am amazed–by this human being.

Sometimes, like now, when I see such courage and strength, I wonder how people do it!

Life is so challenging even when we have all our limbs and faculties…

I think that G-d must give a special gift to these people so they can inspire others and be role models for us.

So that when times are tough, we can remember them and be elevated to break our own barriers and limitations.