When today comes around I usually think about things my father missed since he has been gone. I decided that this year I’ll attempt to list a number of things my father knowingly and unknowingly accomplished.
He had 3 successful service oriented businesses • He visited Israel • He passed down his love of nature, Frank Lloyd Wright, short road trips, and chopped liver to my brother, David, and I • He turned a hobby of collecting etchings and art into an impressive eBay Store • Was actively involved the the Jewish Burial Society in Wichita, KS • He lived to see his 3 grandchildren • He conditioned me to only eating latkes with sugar sprinkled on top of them • He and Indiana Jones shared a massive dislike of snakes • He left a void in both his family and community • He showed us the challenge of a snipe hunt, the adventure of Bear Rocks in Cooks Forest, PA, and musical antics of Sha Na Na • He happily took me anywhere that interested me including galleries in SoHo, the Guggenheim (a few times), and dozens of bad movies during high school and beyond • He once let me drag him to 5 different Starbucks in one afternoon • He survived multiple trips to zoos, children’s museums, and even Six Flags Great America • When visiting he’d help stock my freezer and occasionally hangers in my closet • He would always try to go to the Lower East Side and take a peek inside Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, or as he called it the, “Time Warp Yeshiva.” • He showed my family that you could take an RV into almost any neighborhood in Indianapolis and feel safe • He drove hours upon hours to make sure I got to youth group retreats • He taught me that it’s never too late to change no matter if it involves smoking or working on relationships.
Walking out of shul, the morning after Yom Kippur, a follow early Sunday morning riser casually said to me, “Back to normal, right?”
I was taken off guard (and also hadn’t had any coffee) and responded, “Some may say.” As I got into my car I realized that I really should have told him that I think the whole point isn’t to go “back to normal”, but to have a new normal. If after the past 40 days my habits and attitudes are supposed to go back to the way they were then I have missed the point. I know in the next hour or days or weeks I will be challenged and tested; the decisions, kabballos, and raw confessions I made to Hashem can go either way.
My new normal is one in which I dedicate myself and my energy to the Rabbono Shel Olam. It’s a normal where I think for 30 seconds before I open my mouth to someone in my family when I feel that I am losing my patience. It’s a normal where I constantly ask Hashem to help me find the Simchas haChaim that is within me. It’s a normal where Shevisi Hashem isn’t just a concept but a reality. It’s a normal where I will make mistakes, push myself away from Hashem by aveiros, and know that coming back is my choice. Back to normal, I hope not.
I have started this post about 2 dozen times over the past 3 years and I never seem to get more than about 300 words written about why I stopped blogging. Looking back, it's been just over a year since my last post and prior to that there were a few postings every 6-9 months all the back to 2014. I guess the good thing about writing now is that the odds are good that no one will read this and it allows me a little wiggle room with being real about things.
I can pinpoint the moment that I decided to stop writing, it was when I had conveniced myself that I didn't really have anything to say. This was my conclusion after getting dealt a humbling and embarrassing blow, that forced me to be truthful and re-evaluate my middos and myself. Needless to say, it wasn't the best day ever. I lost confidence in myself on multiple levels and found myself retreating, withdrawing both from friends in my community as well as those I had "met" online. I found myself for the next 5 months terribly introverted (not my nature) and unsure of much, besides the fact that my wife and kids loved me. Slowly I got back into the groove of things, but the desire to write seemed overruled by the desire to think I didn't have much to offer online.
I found myself self stuck with a creative desire to express myself and no outlet. Then I succumbed to my official midlife crisis (not the pretend one of forming a band), my hobby of urban exploration and documenting neglected architecture. This was the furthest thing from writing a blog. Writing reveals what we are thinking, what is behind and under the surface. Photography, at its esssence, captures an image as we see it and freezes it. It's two dimensional, it starts and stops. Of course, the right picture or portrait, can convey emotion but the shots I have been taking since the beginning of 2015 are of buildings that have been abandoned and forgotten. Many of the buildings have historical value and their owners were happy to have their properties documented. Honestly, most people don't see why I enjoy these kind of photos. As my wife astutely suggested, it might be because I feel dilapidated and abandoned from who I can truthfully be.
So, this is where I am holding, not quite sure what I can bring to the digital table, but attempting to be the guy Hashem knows I can be and who I need to be.