Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Still Center Of A Restless Mind

Can't sleep. I tried giving in to dreams, then reading, then a drink of water, and now finally, reluctantly, A Whispering Soul. There is too much quiet. Not the comforting quiet of lights closed in a warm house at night, but the unsettling quiet of a restless, searching mind.

I had a wonderful weekend with 'laizer, savior of souls, in from the Holy Land; shabbat and muffins and gourmet meals with the Muffin Dude and his family in Boston; an impromptu meeting with Kenju, who it turns out lives next door to the Muffin Dude; dinner with a Rav who exudes emes; hitbodedut by a Connecticut river, complete with dancing and mosquito bites; Torah to make your heart ache for more Torah and for Israel; and Chassidic stories of such delicacy and beauty, that they demanded moments of deep reflection and savoring.

And yet, four days later, there is this unsettling quiet. Nothing is amiss. No downward spiral of regret and despair, only an aching stillness. I suppose I am tired. Tired of waiting - for my zivug, for real life to begin. I am wistful for Eretz Yisrael, the vibrant purple flesh of a freshly cut pitaya in the shuk, the winding alleyways of mystery in Nachlaot, faces of friends I have not seen in years now, negotiations in sherut/taxi cabs, the cold stone of the kotel as I press my cheek against it, running through tall grass in the Galil, the one extending rock in Bat Ayin you can see forever from.

Where is the voice telling me my wife is out there, the one telling me that my children are waiting patiently to be born, the one telling me that there is a place for me, that my role, my contribution, my story is yet to emerge, and that when it does it will be true and clear and brilliantly defeaning in its rightness? Where is the voice, my voice, telling me Jerusalem is still there for me?

It is that kind of quiet.

The quiet between knowing where you are not - both literally and figuratively - and accepting it. It is the quiet of being single and being far away from your makom; the quiet of unreached potential and thwarted artistry; the quiet of Torah yet unfound; the quiet of a cry originating deep within the soul, recognizable only by its brokenness.

A beautiful teaching from a Rav met in Boston: The only thing a Jew has to keep him from being alone in this world is shabbos. HaShem sometimes plays hard to get, hides Himself from view. But shabbos? Every seven days guaranteed.

In reading this entry back, it feels permeated by sadness, but that is not reflective of my present frame of mind, at least not in the Smashing Pumpkins sense. It is the good kind of wistfulness, the kind that creates movement and flow. And there is great joy and peace in being able to name the aching stillness: it is loneliness and longing - for her (my zivug) and for her (Jerusalem) and for her (Torah) and for realizations yet to come.

And with peace, sleep...

43 comments:

A Simple Jew said...

Beautifully written, my friend. I hope this is a return to blogging. We have all missed you and your whispering soul.

tafka PP said...

Ditto a simple Jew- lovely to have you back!

Mirty said...

Nice to see you again, read you again. Why "reluctantly"?

Stacey said...

So good to read your words again.

I hope that you were able to find restful slumber.

MC, your intense longing for Israel is palpable. Is there any way that you can perhaps get on a plane and just go? Perhaps you need the change of scenery and then the rest might very well fall into place there.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

MCA: Welcome back - we missed you!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Mirty: What happened to your profile picture!?!?!

Rebecca said...

Wow. I missed you! I clicked on you today with a thought in the back of my head, should I bother? and there you were! I've been cooking so many great things while you've been gone!
I hope you had a nice rest!

Ayelet said...

Good to see you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

MC Aryeh said...

ASJ - Very kind of you to say. I think there may be a few more posts in my future...

TAFKAPP- Thanks. Looking forward to catching up and reading your promised aliyah post! When did you add the second P?

Mirty- Is that your adorable Israeli cousin in the picture? Thanks for the kind words. Reluctant on several levels: private vs. public issue; after happily not blogging for 2 plus months, did I really want to start up again?...

Stacey - Good to have you here! How are your beautiful little girls? I did indeed sleep well. Putting words out instead of letting them eat away at your insides is always the way to go - at least for me. I think you may be on to something - Israel, even for a brief visit, would do me a world of good. It will iy"H definitely happen this year. Just have to work out the logistics. Thanks for the good advice and concern.

Jameel- Thanks. Good to be back.

Rebecca- Thanks. The break was good. I guess you must have some form of nevuah. How are you and Aaron and Esti? Please don't keep me in suspense - what did you make while I was away from the blogworld?!?

Ayelet- Thanks for stopping by.

Sara said...

Thank you, this post really meant a lot to me.

I'll try to formulate it better tomorrow, but it's enough to say that I'm glad you're back.

Ezzie said...

We have all missed you and your whispering soul.

Amen.

Elster said...

Hey look, McAryeh's back! Good times. Now I can stop feeling like an idiot for clicking here and still only seeing the Scandanavian Edition of Music Mondays.

Anyway, nice to see you writing again. I read your post and I think I get where you are right now. No sappy words of encouragement from me rather a question: What are you doing professionally right now? Last we heard, you were thinking about going back to school.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice to be here for the first time. I wish I saw it sooner, so nicely expressed.

Jack's Shack said...

Wow, the man is back. Nice to see you around these parts.

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

As I wrote here -

http://rabbifleischmann.blogspot.com/2006/05/five-bloggers-and-lisa-kron-princess.html -

I wish for you to do what's best for you. I don't wish for you to feel pressure about posting what you write or about being involved in the give and take of blogging.

That having been said, this was top level writing in so many ways.

Mirty said...

Jameel, I accidentally fell into a time machine! No, it's my adorable Israeli cousin. (Correctly identified by MCAryeh.)

Mirty said...

Jameel, I accidentally fell into a time machine! No, it's my adorable Israeli cousin. (Correctly identified by MCAryeh.)

torontopearl said...

Missed you BIG TIME! Glad you're back. Keep those poetic thoughts coming...please.

Hoping life carries you where you want to go, very soon. And perhaps some humor s/b injected somewhere, ie. when people asked me, "Nu, so you haven't found the right one, yet?" I would answer, "HE hasn't found ME!"

So she hasn't found you yet...BUT SHE WILL!

Shavuah tov.

David_on_the_Lake said...

wow..where have u been?
btw...while u were gone..we all got rid of our word verification thingies...lol

Rebecca said...

Lately I've been doing somewhat of the iron chef in my own kitchen, just throwing together a ton of things that I find in the cabinet....
I know you don't like the pareve sour creams and stuff but that's my favorite ingredient now. I made an awesome crispy chicken with that as the base...
an oriental dressing, lets see...what else? caramel brownies..
I can't think! you've been gone for so long!!
As for my family, thank G-d they're great! Estee is almost a year, check her out!!!

SS said...

Wow, I was so glad to see something here - I've always loved the way you say the messages I love... Welcome back, if you're back, that is.

Noodles said...

A new reader of A Whispering Soul. This is a wonderful piece ... intimate and raw. Looking forward to future pieces.

MC Aryeh said...

Sara- Thanks. Glad the post meant something to you. Would love to hear your further thoughts on the matter.

Ezzie- On Jeopardy, the answer would be "Can I get an Amen?" Thanks...

Elster- What do you have against Scandinavians and menus? Going back to school is still on the agenda, though I may end up selling out more than I imagined. A huge mazal tov to you and the entire family on the birth of your daughter! Lots of good stuff you miss when you leave the blogworld for a while...

SW/FM- Welcome aboard. Nice to have you here.

Jack- Not half as nice as it is to see you commenting here. All that's missing is a gratuitous knock on Cleveland....

Neil- Thanks for your heartfelt words and bracha. I don't feel blogging pressure, which is kind of nice, actually.

MC Aryeh said...

Pearl- Thanks for the encouragement! As for my intended, I am pretty convinced she got stuck on some uncharted island in the south pacific somewhere, and that is why she tarries....

David- Time spent doing other things. I have grown kind of attached to my word verification thingy, so I may hold on to it a little longer.

Rebecca- I will definitely, bli neder, check out the latest Esti pictures. It's true I am not a fan of pareve substitutes, except maybe soy milk, but the way you described the crispy chicken makes it sound really good! Did you ever end up starting a food related blog?

SS- Thanks for the compliment. You ask a good question. Am I back? Don't know. Back for now, I guess....

Noodles- Good to have you here. Thanks for the kind words and for stoppng by.

Pragmatician said...

Why allow yourself to feel incomplete because you have not yet found your zivug?
As much as you can accomplish when you are with two, you can do much more as a single.
Your worth as a person and a Jew is not lesser, you 'real' life has begun already.

Great to have you back in blogland.

Jack's Shack said...

MCA,

Ok, if you don't start blogging again you will be forced to live in a one bedroom house in Parma. You do know that the Shmata Queen hails from around there. ;)

Stacey said...

I do not. There are no Jews in Parma, just pink flamingos.

Rebecca said...

No I didn't start the blog. Blogging has been slower for a lot of ppl since you have been gone :)
I'm so busy it's hard to keep up with the two I have, I don't post nearly as often!

ps the chicken was the following:
pareve sour cream, garlic powder, celery salt, dash of worschester sauce. mix, cover chicken. Let maranade for a few hours. Then dip into corn flake crumbs. Bake uncovered so it's really crispy...

Lvnsm27 said...

wow great to see you back

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

And then he was gone again. The bloggers wonderd about McAryeh, and what his life away from them was like. Perhaps those writing rumors about JD Salinger applied to McAryeh. Did he have files upon files of unpublished words waiting to be posted one day? Or was he not writing at all?
Was his time filled with pining
and praying?

After one middle of the night post appeared as if from no-where, some were filled with hope. But no-one knew what would happen. No-one could make McAryeh do anything he didn't want to do. And so as time passed and it seemed that he was gone again, every blogger came to terms with the reality, each in his own way.

Stacey said...

Rabbi Neil, that was so beautiful!

MC, at the very least, you will know how much you mean to so many of us!

Sarah said...

I am so happy you are back! I followed your blog for a while before your hiatus, but never commented. I just wanted to say that I Love your writing, it is absolutely beautiful.
I also want to say that I hope your find your zivug soon! I will post again on my birthday (soon) and give you a bracha. In the meantime, welcome back!!

tafka PP said...

Oh MCA, how you tease us with your return, yet still deny us TWO potential musical mondays. Bah Humbug. I'm stopping blogging in protest!

Sweettooth120 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sweettooth120 said...

I also echo a Simple Jew and others when they have said we have missed you and your beautiful words.

MC - you have been gone so long and yet without anyone realizing that you have return, you already have over 30 comments. This is a real testiment to your warm soul.

AnySara said...

MC - She's out there. You'll find her. Once you are at peace with your own company and you can identify exactly what you want your life to look like married to her, she'll materialize. I speak from experience. In the mean time, I'll keep an eye out for her and let you know if I see her.

Kol tuv,
Anysara

MC Aryeh said...

Prag - I do appreciate all that I have been able to do as a single person, and will continue to, but I am ready for the next stage, the new life that comes as a married person. It is not good for man to be alone...

Jack - Parma has not been as bad as you made it out to be, though being limited to one room has been kind of rough...I'm more of a two or three room kind of guy...

Stacey - The pink flamingos are lovely this time of year.

Rebecca - I will have to try it. Thanks for the recipe. I can relate on the blogging side of things...hard to make the time...

Lvsm27 - Sorry it was so short-lived!

Neil - Let it never be said you do not have a way with words. I very much enjoyed reading your comment. And I do have files of unpublished words, though I doubt most will ever be posted on this blog...

MC Aryeh said...

Stacey- You are very kind. Thank you.

Sarah- Thank you for the wonderful compliments. I will never turn down a birthday bracha, so whenever it is, I am ready!

TAFKAP- Happy to see you were only bluffing! Music mondays will be returning shortly, only on a different, pop culture oriented blog I am starting.

SweetTooth- Thank you for saying so. I have been blessed with wonderfully kind commenters.

Anysara- You are a wise woman. I think I have been at that place, but maybe my vision could use a little tweaking. You are right, she is out there - only probably on some deserted island somewhere. If you see her, please let her know I am here...thank you for your words.

Stam said...

Wow, that was just... wow.

sistersoul said...

that was lovely shmichael

~ Sarah ~ said...

just catching up on previous posts that i haven't yet read...

thanks for sharing... i empathise.

MC Aryeh said...

Not Stam- Thanks. It kinda just came right out..

SisterSoul - Thanks, Shmira.

Sarah - Thanks for reading and for the empathy; it's hard out there for a yid sometimes...

Nancy said...

Silence is unsettling many a times. Silence does not always signify peace and tranquility.

I loved your post.

This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News