Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas story

My family was Jewish, though the term “dishwater” would aptly describe the lackadaisical nature of our practice. We were “Reform” Jews, which as far as I ever knew meant a historical accommodation to casualness where the congregation didn’t need to learn Hebrew in order to mouth the words during Sabbath. I went to Sunday School, a boring time-filler for me. I was bar mitzvah’d – wrote a fakey speech. And was confirmed (10th grade) – wrote a paper on atheism. I had never gone to temple but for the snacks (Oneg Shabbat). To this day I do not know if my father was a silent hypocrite, sitting in the pew but secretly holding to his Jesuit learning from Santa Clara University.

The one enchanted, heavenly feeling of love and wonder I ever had as a child came the night, during fourth grade, I sang with the school chorus in the Christmas program. Somehow that evening – with its emotion and mysticism and music, snowy night sky, nervous excitement and camaraderie – all the magical best emotions of childhood, some of which must come from birth chemistry they were so arcane, formed upward in the glorious image of Jesus, a feeling (forgive me) exactly of orgasm without sex. I became different, better, a humble lover at the moment of revelation. I remember that at program’s end, exiting the building and shuffling to the parking lot with my parents, I had dearly, dearly wanted to linger. For what? I don’t know and probably didn’t know then. I suppose we could say something died then or did not get born, as I had no power to resist my parents’ determination to go home. In the car, I fell back to me again.

We are on to the psychology now. That feeling, a distillation of all childhood good and love, was both accidental and eternal. So full like an atom not yet split, it would be an elixir, message and messenger forming the heart. Many people live for it. They love and need it so much they turn their life to it, study it – like passionate classical musicians who pore over the histories, scores, orchestration, harmony and counterpoint, because the nuts and bolts are bathed in the same magic as their origin.

I wonder if our best and dearest is this accident. If all love and meaning start from an emotional-spiritual spark that is part of birth for almost everyone, and which is scratched to flame in time. Good parents give the spark its tinder. Unloving parents blind us to the spark but it remains. If buried, pulsing yet smothered, life-giving but unreachable, it will give us strange philosophies. It may make us be cutters, self-mutilators, where we pierce ourselves to reach that something precious. Or we may become desperate and angry.

I think it’s quaint that we reach out to people, the world and the universe and care about or condemn them because we stand on top of this tiny, bright atom.

1 comment:

  1. "And God said "Let there be Light"
    Now, he didn't say Let there be some light, or a quantitive amount. It could have been boundless, infinite. And what if instead of Light we substitute "imagination". Boundless imagination - scary eh? So scary that we have to put (impose) our own limits, our own spectrum of thoughts / language. The brain is there to process our image-ination, and we need bounds. The problem is, of course - which bounds???

    PS I hope you don't mind me putting these reflections on your posts, I don't know where to write them in an appropriate general sub-section.


Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.