Friday, July 9, 2010

In Between Days


Today the Rabbi explained my teaching schedule to me, which differs in winter because there is less sunlight, which differs every week because of prayer times for the students, and then he suddenly got busy with the phone. So I had time to look around his office, at his dusty existentialism books, at his framed paintings of Spanish ruins. On his desk there was a pile of photocopies of the Tanner Lectures about “Meaning in Life and why it Matters” which he must be teaching to his students. And I am pretty obvious when I snoop around, because he noticed I was trying to read his photocopies backwards from where I was sitting, and invited me to take a copy.

So I left that office today with the Tanner Lectures in my hand, rushing to catch the seven back to Queens. And maybe it was the day, or the fact that I had not slept enough the nigh before, but I felt sort of jealous that he could afford to live in such an intense, wonderful spiritual world to the point where reality, where things such as having no AC in the seven train, having an unemployed dad, having to count your pennies, having to die, become the mere icing on the cake to something else, to something larger and apparently much better.

And then, I am not sure why but all of this talk about "why meaning matters" just reminded me of acts of love. There is this piece in a biography by Tennessee Williams. The essay is titled “The Man in the Overstuffed Chair,” and at one point in the story his therapist tells him that to forgive the world, he first has to forgive others.
I remember reading this essay one night not too long ago, and thinking about the way life used to feel like. Realizing that I could forgive the world now, and I could forgive others. But that forgiving myself was always the pending, the most difficult act, the one nobody warns you about. It was the act that brought the most resistance. And that I, pretty much, was on my own with that one.