Living Life Vicariously

So the Capitals won the Stanley Cup.  Go DC!


This little figurine made a debut on the counter of the concierge late last week for us to cheer them on!


You can ring the bell for help and while your waiting, get excited about the game. 


While these types of sports are not my thing per se, I do like watching a good Rocky movie or action flick where the good guys beat the sh*t out of the bad guys.


Whether you’watching your favorite sports team, your Hollywood dream stars, or even an occasional do (something) good politician, we are living vicariously through them. 


It’s not our success we are seeing, but somehow we temporarily suspend our own selves and live through others (their eyes, their actions) and we partake just for a second of what it’s like to be them winning or doing something really significant in life. 


We all can’t be superstars in the center ring duking it out (all the time) and so we take a step back to see others that we relate to face up to the challenge, fight and hopefully win big. 


We don’t walk away with the trophy, prize money, or fame, but we congratulate ourselves somehow for being on the winning team. 


Heck, I didn’t do anything but have faith, go along for the ride, and then take pleasure in seeing my guy(s) win. 


Yet, from the humdrumness of perhaps some of our own everyday lives, we fantasize and garner the courage and strength to do our own great things. 


We can’t be the strongest, smartest, most good-looking, personable, and talented in the world, but we can see parts of ourselves in others and we can try to model the best of them in ourselves and leverage what we got going on!


I don’t really like spending a lot of precious time living like this through others–I don’t mind getting inspiration when I see something amazing, but really I just want to try my hardest to be the best that I can be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

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Controlling The World, Really?

So, unfortunately, there is a lot of discrimination and hate out there. 


Often, I see, hear, or read lots of anti-Semitism. 


People don’t like what I write in my blog, that I eat Kosher, Keep Shabbat, or that I wear a head covering or whatever. 


I get things like “Dirty Jew!”


Sometimes, “Get out! Go back to Israel!”


Or when I try to express myself, “Uh, the Jews control the world,”


The funny thing is if Jews control the world, why do I feel like I don’t control anything!


I feel so small and insignificant in a way in the realm of G-d’s great universe. 


Where I am but a speck of dust.


I see tall skyscrapers.


Huge mountain ranges. 


The deep oceans.


The rolling plains. 


The infinite stars in the sky. 


I see a world with hundreds of countries. 


And billions of people. 


And I see me, and I am just a person. 


And I see the Jewish people–a tiny minority.


One that has been subject of pogroms, inquisitions, exiles, destruction, and genocide–over and over again. 


I grew up pretty poor and watching my parents work so hard trying their best to support the family. 


I think Jews don’t control the world. 


I certainly don’t think I control even my day. 


The reality is only G-d is in control. 


And for that, I am most humble and grateful to the L-rd above. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Failing Forward

There were 2 inspirational student speakers today at my daughter’s graduation from American University.


One spoke about how he got sick soon after starting college with a serious vascular disease, but despite numerous hopsitalizations, treatments, and falling behind his peers, he persevered and was graduating today and in very good spirits. 


Another women spoke about her many failures leading up to the success today of her graduation. She described how her father used to ask her: 

“What did you fail at this week?”


Why?


Because even though we don’t like to admit it, most people have many, many more failures in life than successes.  


Even Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb is said to have failed 1,000 times before getting it right.


This women explained how failure is actually something to celebrate–does that sound crazy?.


But it’s really not, and here’s why?

“To fail is to learn.
To learn is to grow.
To fail is to grow forward.”

Now, I had heard about failing up, but never failing forward. 


Many who fail still manage to advance themselves in the process. 


But failing forward is different. 


It’s not taking advantage of the failure, but legitimately learning from the experience so that you can grow yourself, and advance yourself, by becoming a smarter, stronger, and more capable person from it. 


Sure, it hurts to fail. 


Who would normally want to celebrate failure?


But if we understand life as a journey and not a specific destination, then we enjoy every blessed moment that we have to become better today and tomorrow than we were yesterday. 


In this case, failure is not the opposite of success, but rather is part and parcel of achieving it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Motivation, Hard Work, and Blessings

So I am incredibly impressed at how talented so many people are. 

And I’ll tell you, people are motivated to get ahead and they are working hard to do it. 

I took Lyft to a couple of destinations down here in Florida. 

Two drivers that I had just yesterday were both from relatively poor backgrounds in Jamaica. 

And both were incredible in what they’ve been able to accomplish for themselves.  

One was a senior communications technologist with a large cable company.

Another was a pretty impressive and successful Reggae music star. 

Both had come to this country and made amazing lives for themselves. 

In meeting these incredible people, I learned that everyone is driving Uber and Lyft now-a-days. 🙂

Both were driving as they told me just to keep busy on their days off–because they “hate being bored!”

More importantly, I learned that despite whatever background, hardships, or adversity you come from or have experienced, you can make it in your own way! 

Motivation and hard work coupled with mercy and blessings from, and faith in the Almighty Above are an incredible combination that can propel people towards incredible levels of success in life that maybe many would’ve never even really dreamed of. 

There is no easy road–just one filled with trying your best, plenty of obstacles, stumbles, and falls, and then picking yourself up and trying again and again until hopefully and with G-d’s help you break the bonds and chains keeping you from your amazing levels of potential and contribution to this world. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Knowable and Unknowable

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So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 


And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them–is it survival or the challenge or both?


But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 


I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.


And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.


Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will–which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn’t fully control? 


One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again…interesting. 


Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.


Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?


No, I don’t think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 


So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 


– We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can’t just get it.


– We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 


– We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 


– At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.


While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys–and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 


In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What A Climb!

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So I bought one these climbers–this one very colorful–to hang on one of my walls. 


I like the image of climbing and overcoming–with G-d’s help–whatever obstacle is in our path.


It’s not easy to climb and keep climbing, because the higher you go, the thinner the air, the more tired you get, and the further you have to fall!


But what I also realized about the image of the climber is that if you turn it on it’s side, then the same person who is climbing…is now crawling. 


What at times in life can be a beautiful climb up, at other times can be any of us on all fours. 


There is no easy path straight up, although there is definitely one that can go straight down!


Sometimes, we are vertical–living and working hard trying to achieve something. 


And other times, we are horizontal–resting, asleep, or even in a hospital bed fighting for our lives just to survive another moment or day.


When we climb, we may literally be trying to conquer mountains.


But when you crawl, you may literally be on the ground begging for mercy.


Climbing and crawling are really not that far apart in terms about 90 degrees and how quickly change can happen and a person goes from an upward trajectory to a more devastating one. 


Some things to keep in mind…anchor your feet solidly and hold on to that rope tightly and even for dear life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Smell The Roses

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I am a big proponent of stopping to smell the roses. 


These purple, yellow, red, and pink flowers were sitting on the counter in Whole Foods, and I had to stop, back up, and take this amazing photo.


They were absolutely gorgeous!


Sometimes, I can’t believe the beautiful things and people that G-d has made. 


We’re part of a most-amazing and perfect world. 


Of course, there are also hardships and suffering in this world – illness, disability, hunger, homelessness, violence, loneliness, and loss. 


Perhaps, these are the most difficult of things for us as human beings to reconcile with the beautiful world that G-d has set us in. 


While surrounded by beauty, people are also beset by life’s many challenges. 


Maybe all the more reason to stop and smell the roses even for just a moment–to enjoy the spirit of life and of our amazing Creator, and the opportunity to make the most of it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)