julieliveshere.com

Thanks for visiting. This site will no longer be updated.

Please visit my new site.

You can find new writing, new photos at

http://julieliveshere.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tradition


Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” ~ Buddha

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.” ~ Stuart Chase

***

I wanted to thank all of you who so sweetly wished me a happy Chanukkah/ Hanukkah (however you like to spell it... I could never get the spelling right) from the last post.

I
kind of feel like a heel. Part of me wants to just to revel in your lovely wishes because I know it made you happy to wish that for me. And it made me happy to receive your wishes, your blessings. You are all so very very kind. But the other part of me has to come clean and say I don't celebrate Hanukkah (or any other holidays) anymore. I fell off the wagon quite a while ago.

I think I first started to fall off it around the age of eight or ten. It had to do with me reading the story of Abraham and the Sacrifice of Issac, in a book I used to really love called The Children's Story of Israel. It was a really interesting book. I remember loving to read it, not only for the vivid stories, but for the smell and feel of the paper,
and the stark black and white illustrations. I think they were engravings. The paper was incredibly silky and smooth. I remember just running my fingers over the pages because they felt beautiful. It was odd. I've never had another book quite like it. I have no idea where that book went to, but it was old.

Anyway, I used to read that book a lot. And then one day it dawned on me what was really going on in that story of Abraham and Isaac. I understood that it meant that Abraham might actually kill his own son because God told him to. And what would that say about any father who might get a message from God. That scared the piss out of me, to be quite frank. I never read that book again. I remember feeling betrayed. And it made me wonder exactly where these stories were coming from and why I read them.

This post isn't to rain on anyone's parade (I don't mean to do that in the least) or to expound what I believe or don't believe. But what this holiday wishing made made me think about is Tradition. Why we believe what we believe.

Like the Buddha says in that quote above: How much of our beliefs are our own? And how often do we question ourselves and our own minds? What is the relationship between our individual identity and what is forged by the traditions and beliefs handed down to us?

***

In thinking about my Hanukkahs of the past, I think about my grandmothers. My grandma Helen (aka Little Helen) and my grandma Annette. For Grandma Helen, I remember the potato latkes and how I've never had any that taste better than hers did. Every year she would come to my mother's house, with an old metal food grinder in an ancient cardboard box. The grinder part was held on by rubber bands. My mom and I would peel potatoes, keeping them in a bowl of water to keep them from turning pink, until Grandma Helen could grind them up into a big bowl filled with eggs, onions and flecks of black pepper. I remember her forehead getting damp. It was hard work grinding all of those potatoes.

But she said that's what made them taste so good and she was right about that. I've just come to realize that I'll never have that particular taste in my mouth again.

And then there was my Grandma Annette. In her being absent for most of my life now, I think she's come to make a greater impression on me because I didn't know her well. But she represented Tradition to me in a way I craved. She came from the "Old Country" (the Ukraine) as she called it in her heavy accented English, and I still vaguely remember her stories of village life and her brothers and sisters and escaping the Cossack raids.

She knew all of the Sabbath blessings and kept kosher. She was tiny and also very formidable in a quiet, fragile way. I used to watch Fiddler on the Roof a lot as a kid, because I imagined that her vanished village with no name was just like the one in the movie. In a way, I was probably right.



***

Looking back at grandma Annette and her lost world of the Old Country, I realized for many years that what I wanted, or perhaps envied most, was her tradition. The surety of a world where your place was known, where everyone knew what was expected of themselves and they were surrounded by a community that might have been confining but was also there as a protection. I had this fantasy of how life might just be so much easier if I knew exactly what I was supposed to be when I got older.

Unfortunately or fortunately, life in the 'burbs just isn't the same thing as life in the shtetl. Of course now I'm grateful that I ended up where I am, but for many years, I really felt I was missing out on something very subtle and very important. But my world is a lot bigger now. And I'm not so scared of it anymore. I'm not scared of not being what I thought I was going to be when I grew up, either.

***

Several years ago, I went on a business trip to Houston. On the flight home, my fellow passenger was an Orthodox rabbi. He had the peyes, the prayer shawl, the black hat. He was my age, rotund and jolly. He had five beautiful children (in his words, I'm sure they were) and he and his wife ran an Orthodox community in Dallas. He was flying to Palo Alto to perform a wedding.

Now all these years later, I felt like I finally had my chance. I had to ask him what was up with the Abraham and Isaac story. I told him what it did to my kid psyche and I could see on his face that I wasn't the only one who had a problem with the tale. He looked pained as I poured my heart out to him. He explained it to me, in what the metaphor of the story really meant, and apologized that no one was there to tell me that when I was young. I tried not to cry. But I did and he gave me his beverage napkin so I could blow my nose. His explanation was calming in its way, but still did not erase the savagery of the act that almost was.

I don't know why it affected me so, to have some closure on that story so many years after the fact. I mean, I could have gone to any temple around and just asked someone. But that was the right time for me. It was the right time, and at the same time, it was too late.

The rabbi and I kept in touch for a little while via email but whatever tradition I felt I should have had just wasn't inside me. I think some things you have to be exposed to at a very young age for them to take hold in your heart, otherwise the roots are just too shallow.

But I don't feel too badly, because I also realize that there was a little eight or ten year old girl who read something and then had an opinion about it and took a position. Above all else, I appreciate that little Julie who reads and thinks about what she reads. And wherever that tradition came from, I'm most grateful for that of all.

***

More and more, I'm fine with where I'm at. It's a journey though, and I'm still working on it. But I'm not as worried so much about not having all the answers.

Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” ~ George Carlin


***

Paintings by Marc Chagall: 1. Solitude (1933). 2. The Birthday (1915). 3. Title unknown (if you know, please tell me).

"One fine day... as my mother was putting the bread in the oven, I went up to her, and taking her by her flour-smeared elbow I said to her, 'Mama ... I want to be a painter.' " ~ Marc Chagall

28 comments:

paris parfait December 23, 2008 at 4:20 AM  

I love Chagall's work. A fine story about your own beliefs and questions, Miss Parker. As for belief vs. tradition, the perfect example is in Islam of women wearing the chadoor or the veil. Nowhere in the Koran is this stipulated; it's simply a tradition, invented by men and perpetuated by men, too many who regard women as "chattel." Sigh.

julochka December 23, 2008 at 5:34 AM  

i love chagall and this is such a thoughtful post...and it sounds like so many of the thoughts that have been on my mind as to what this whole holiday circus means have been beautifully through through your mind...which helps me further my thinking a whole lot, since i think we may have been separated at birth and no one ever bothered to ell me about the ukraianian grandmother (which would have explained so much)...

for me, the doubt happened around the same age as you, reading some bible story book as well, i don't remember which one, but it was one that led me to believe that god had everything written down in a big book and he knew every move i would ever make...which immediately made me begin to think about defying that book...as in, god thinks i'll move my left arm right now, but i'm going to wait and move it in 30 seconds instead...then thinking, no, god KNEW i would do that...and feeling a horrible sense of not being ever able to escape what was written in the big book--but that's undoubtedly because i was raised presbyterian and there was that whole no free will thing going on with them then (they don't talk about it so much anymore).

wow, i'm writing a lot here, aren't i?

my favorite part of this post is when you say, "I'm not scared of not being what I thought I was going to be when I grew up, either." because i know exactly what you mean.

so, i will finally end with, happy non-holiday at a time of winter when all need some cheer, my soul sister.

xoxox,
/j

Liz December 23, 2008 at 5:38 AM  

Interestingly, a few weeks back, my pastor did a sermon that focused on the same story and shared his own struggle with it. And how he almost turned from his faith because of it. It's a story that I often overlook... having children, I can't comprehend the notion that my children aren't my own. I don't believe that. I believe my children are my own and it is absolutely my duty to protect them. And if the person I believed to be God or someone representing God told me to kill one of them... I'd think that I'd fallen into some Jim Jones world and I'd be done. My faith would be gone.

So it's a story that I think many grapple with, struggle with.

I hope you find your way back onto the path you seek. I know that my faith has gotten my through some tremendously difficult times. And has also brought unequivocal joy.

I'll pray for you. For your journey. That even if you don't find exact answers, you at least find peace and comfort.

msHedgehog December 23, 2008 at 6:26 AM  

I wasn't brought up religious either.

However, my school (15-20% Jewish, 10% Muslim, the rest miscellaneous) did follow the vaguely-religious, ecumenical practice of traditional Bible readings in school assembly around Christmas time. I was once given the task of reading the bit from Genesis where Eve is talking with the snake. The snake tells her that what she's been told about the fruit is false, and she tests it by eating some.

I liked this passage a lot - I still do - and put some thought into how to read it. To my unprejudiced teenage mind, it was quite clear from the plain words of the story that (a) God was a liar, (b) the snake was telling the exact truth, as verified by Eve's courageous experiment on herself (c) Eve made the correct choice, the brave choice, and the choice of a true heroine - live as a slave to an unworthy, lying God, or be a moral person and possibly die, and (d) the legend of Eve was the legend of the world's first scientist.

It struck me as a beautiful tale of moral choice and the importance of truth.

I read it with the intonation and expression that made sense on that basis, although I have no idea whether anyone understood.

I still think of that day, and the legend, with pleasure and a sense of strong moral foundation. Thanks for reminding me.

A Cuban In London December 23, 2008 at 7:18 AM  

You raise a most apposite issue. Why do people believe? I think it's habit and comfort. The former first.

If you're raised in one of the three Abrahamic religions, it's unlikely that you'll change your mind after. If you do, you'll be an exception, not the rule. If no, look around you. And if you manage to shake off the shackles (pardon me if that offends any religious people visiting this forum), the likelihood is that you will not be forever free of your childhood's religious indoctrination. Hence the latter, comfort. For some people religion is there to be taken in times of distress and despair. It's like a favourite cuddly toy that we resort to, even when we're grown-ups, because we're aware of its existence and its longevity. As an atheist, I do read about religion and read religious books, but more as a cultural reference than as succour. To me there's more than enough imagination, creativity and fantasy in ordinary human beings and that's what 'makes me high', so to speak ;-).

Excellent post.

Greetings from London.

CSouthwell December 23, 2008 at 7:36 AM  

“Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.” ~ George Carlin

i love that quote, that's awesome!!

Quite an interesting post, i'm not sure beliefs would be too shallow should you not have learnt them from a young age, in fact i think that from a young age, most people stay with the same beliefs because they are scared to question them.

I think its almost more worthwhile finding yourself, and your beliefs after a certain age where you can really question things in your own mind.

I still think most beliefs are there to keep us in a happy place and find that sense of hope when things dont go right.

In all though you sound rather balanced, and no one has all the answers, those that claim to are in denial, and should be comfroted by the rest of us.

Charlie

sonorossa December 23, 2008 at 8:08 AM  

Happy Hanukkah from a somewhat lapsed Jew. My menorah's out but I haven't lit a single candle yet. I'll be making latkes and matzo ball soup, from a box, but only because my (non-Jewish) boyfriend requested them. I'll also be going to temple and then drinking with my friends at area bars immediately afterward.

Sometimes, in order to keep something alive, you have to bastardize it a little bit. If it's not relevant to you, then it will certainly die.

If it's not too upsetting, I'm wondering if you could tell us what the rabbi told you about the Abraham and Isaac story?

namastenancy December 23, 2008 at 9:42 AM  

Beautiful, thoughtful post. I was raised Protestant but was interested in other religions from an early age. Being a Navy kid, I grew up all over the world. I remember being extremely impressed with Ancient Egyptian religion when we lived in Egypt and probably really becoming a non-believer when we lived in Turkey and Greece, although I didn't know if for many years. When I started really studying history, I was aghast at how Christianity had taken the words of Jesus and turned them into a reason to persecute, torture and murder. Visiting Jerusalem when I was about 11 or 12 was the capper; each religion claimed to have the places where Jesus was born and tied yet I saw precious little Christian charity anywhere. Later, when I visited the concentration camps in Germany, I knew that I could not believe in any religion that led to this abomination. If god exists, where was he when the innocents were slaughtered? I suppose I have some sort of belief in a god/goddess which manifests when people respect our Earth and walk lightly and with kindness upon it - but that really doesn't have much to do with religion per se.
Love the Chagal quote.
And as always, a thoughtful post which encourages me to write waaaaaay too much.
namaste!

Char December 23, 2008 at 10:43 AM  

the happy thing about my childhood is that I was brought up with a healthy exposure to a myriad of cultures and religious beliefs. I had a buddhist friend, a catholic friend and a jewish friend and I spent time in and out of their houses during the holidays and loved traditions from them all. Though I'm baptist - I go to my brother's methodist church on Christmas eve and have been known to go to midnight mass - just because its so beautiful. The point is that...we should all celebrate traditions and pieces of life that make up ourselves. Right? Beautiful thoughtful post.

Gabby December 23, 2008 at 11:01 AM  

What an exceptionally resonant, honest, heartfelt, wonderful post. I have found that not struggling with the issue was the way to find comfort. But everyone has their own soul's pathway. I am, and remain, a devotee of gastronomic Judaism. I need my nosh on the date to which it is assigned. But I study tantric Buddhism of Tibetans, themselves exiles from their own homeland. And one of the more common beliefs is that if you see Buddha as you know him on the road, kill him. Meaning: every belief and meaning changes constantly and it should. If I don't remain open to having my daily assumptions obliterated, how can I find the truth?

Some days I'm just a spiritual titan. Most of the time, though, I'm just messhugah.

Cynthia December 23, 2008 at 11:16 AM  

Religion is culture as you indirectly point out, and if you are not given that culture as a child or you don't accept it, your life goes off in unexpected directions. Just as you resist unquestioning belief in this beautiful blog, it's also good to obtain first-hand experiencial knowledge. I've read/heard this Buddha quote in a context that refers to the need for various practices such as mindfulness and meditation. Some people prefer other focusing techniques but I think some form of life meditation is essential if you are finding your own way.

BTW,I just love your blog,I didn't check it out eariler because I misunderstood the connotation of "tangobaby"!

Johanna December 23, 2008 at 11:19 AM  

Very soulful, TB. I find that our spiritual journey does not obey logic or timetables. My father was raised in a strictly Orthodox, double dish set household, and completely turned his back on religion as an adult. I know people who "discover" God halfway through life, and others who let him got after a life of devotion.

Having been raised in a particularly secular household, I have never had or felt an affiliation with any organized religion, except perhaps the philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism. Even though we briefly had Jewish Catechism (is that an oxymoron?) with several kids from other neighboring Jewish families.

I do believe that the continual search for meaning and moral strength IS, in fact, the purest and most honest "religion" of all.

cerius December 23, 2008 at 1:06 PM  

I chanced on your page, and was entranced, I too had a fallout with traditions, but lovely the way you write about yours, thankyou

one2tango December 23, 2008 at 1:22 PM  

Hello, tangobaby:) I am one of the people who dance tango, and still read your blog - I have been quiet, but coming around all the same every now and then - I like the world you have created for yourself here, and your writing is of the kind that makes one think the world is a nice place (I agree!!!)
But to the Isaac and Abraham story - I have always found that striking as well, besides I haven´t had a religious upbringing (anticlerical more like it) and so I couldn´t make any sense of it whatsoever - I have once read a book where the author played with the idea that God did, indeed, want to test Abraham, but Abraham got the whole thing wrong! The right reaction wouldn´t have been blind obedience, but a proof of integrity and love of his son, even against the Almighty God.. so Abraham actually failed, and God forgave him, but was disappointed all the same.. an entirely different culture could have developped, a different religion perhaps, if he had understood the test right..
Well, like I said, I am not really religious, so I found this interpretation of the story brilliant, and much more to my liking, but I reckon it IS kind of unorthodox :)
Merry Christmas, or whatever, and lots of luck to you!

Yoli December 23, 2008 at 4:29 PM  

I understand you little one. I am now a Buddhist as are my children. We still have the Christmas tree for my husband's family and the Menorah. Still, it is nice to wish happiness and love for the season. I wish you all of those and more.

Leau December 23, 2008 at 5:00 PM  

Thank you for this. I have been thinking similar thoughts all day as I have gone about holiday preparations. I am going to do something different next year, what I am doing now has no meaning left for me. Even as I am trying I am thinking, this isn't really all that special to me. Hard to grow up at any age. Thanks especially for the quote at the beginning. I'm gonna use that to keep thinking about what I am supposed to do. BTW, I came by way of Christina and Tara. Great blog

Mari December 23, 2008 at 5:07 PM  

Oh my gosh, I love Chagall! My favorite favorite artist of all time!

Ron December 23, 2008 at 5:48 PM  

Thank you for your beautiful post. Thanks for being brave enough to speak your heart. Thank you for the beautiful paintings and quotes by Chagal.

So now I wish you holiday greetings in the spirit of something cool I heard on Seinfeld years ago: "Festivus for the rest of us"... so now go buy your pole and prepare your railings against poor George Costanza. :-)

Ron

Ron December 23, 2008 at 6:02 PM  

Here is the Festivus Clip for your amusement:

Festivus Clip

Ron

mrs. sarah ott December 23, 2008 at 6:23 PM  

this was an extraordinary post Tangobaby. in some ways, i feel a little silly for wishing you happy channakuh.

i think you're right about traditions. how are they traditions if you arent exposed to them all throughout your life to where you'd know no different? i could never be a catholic even though i absolutely adore their traditions and churches. but i just always feel like i don't belong. i didnt grow up in a catholic church.

it is always good to question what we are told and in the end i think what you find yourself believing will be so much stronger than if you'd never wondered outside the box, the book, the story.

faith, no matter how you define it, is certainly a journey. i'd like to believe i am mostly absolutely spiritual and very little if no traditon or religion at all. afterall, the particular ways i decide to bow my head or enter a church or fold my napkin or end a prayer have nothing to do with my salvation or my love for God. that remains regardless of the gestures that are bound to earth and in some ways those outward gestures keep us from really listening to our hearts and how God really speaks to us even if we aren't listening.

i wish you a wonderful holiday, if you only choose to celebrate the little Julie who asked why. so merry happy holiday and good tidings to you. happy everthing Julie!

~K December 23, 2008 at 7:03 PM  

Wow Jules ..very poignant. When you come to think of it all our celebrations are pagan in origin. even the fact that Jesus was most likely born in April when they collected taxes and not December. The Christmas tree, Santa Claus, even mistletoe. I have often said if Isaac was a teenager then it wasn't much of a sacrifice! I don't know how many times my oldest son made me think "where is a good altar when you need one!" :-)

That's why we all need to join in and celebrate Festivus the holiday for the rest of us. Cheers!

Ken

Gillian December 23, 2008 at 8:08 PM  

Julie~:)
Oh wow. What powerful inner children do to us as adults. They tug at our hearts, begging to be noticed. Demanding answers to old questions our adult selves have kept on the backburner, simmering until the right time pops up.
Little Gillian too has so many questions. About everything!!!! LOL
But, what got to me in this post the most was the memory you embodied with this line;
"I've just come to realize that I'll never have that particular taste in my mouth again."
I welled up reading that. For me that is so poignant. My late MIL used to cook lamb dinners that were second to none and I too, will never have that taste in my mouth again. The same as I'll never taste the tea with gouda and bread my Portuguese Grandmother would serve, or the bangers and toms my English Grandmother would whip up if we slept over.
These things linger on a cellular level, brought on by similar attempts at tradition. But they lack something. The soul imbibed when the meal was made for you with loving hands. Those meals had soul.
My favourite line from "The English Patient", when Katherine lays dying in the cave of swimmers....she says something to the effect of ...we are tastes we have swallowed. Sigh.
Am I rambling? LOL!!!!
I guess you could say this really struck a chord with me Miss. Julie!!!! xoxo
Thank you and Merry Whatever Little Julie wants xoxoxo

dutchbaby December 23, 2008 at 8:57 PM  

Dear Julie,
A beautiful, heartfelt post! Only last week I was telling the parable of the Prodigal Son to my son (now that he wanders off on his BMX bike everywhere!). I also told him that I was always bothered by that story when I was a child. I couldn't understand why the prodigal son got a big fancy welcoming feast while the son who never strayed and was always good didn't get anything special. I now understand that what he got was a home and his father's wisdom.

I think I can trace back the unraveling of my faith when, as a teenager, I heard a sermon about "wives submit yourself to your husband". I think it was in Ephesians. It might have been appropriate in ancient times, but I wanted nothing to do with that philosophy.

Regardless of what I believe today, I consider what I learned from the bible to be pivotal in the shaping of who I am.

DerekSmalls December 23, 2008 at 9:56 PM  

For me, Judaism is about the journey and the community. Fighting with these questions are what I find so interesting about Judaism (or any religion that openly encourages dissent). I was raised always to question the things I learned. I agree, the story of Abraham portrays the exact opposite of this tussle with religion. I am glad that you got to have some closure. Thinking critically about it is what makes you a better person (or jew if you want to go that far).
Really interesting post.

ZaHaN @Namo37 December 24, 2008 at 8:21 AM  

Mohamed p.b.u.h said:

"I left you with two things that you will not lead astray with it,the Book and my Blessful Deeds/Sayings."

~Friend:.

Christina December 24, 2008 at 11:00 AM  

I have room enough in my heart for little Julie and grown up Julie. It's all good. ; )

Sandra December 26, 2008 at 10:03 AM  

I can relate to what you wrote. I've made myself and my own traditions as I have gone on. The roots of my foundation did not run deep, either.

tangobaby December 26, 2008 at 1:30 PM  

Thanks to all of you who left your comments here. Please bear with me as I endeavour to answer each and every one of you as generously as you did me...

@paris parfait: Someday let's you and I go to the Opera Garnier together just to stare at the ceiling.

And I know that your years of living and working in the Middle East has probably exposed you to so much more than most of us could begin to understand.

@julochka: It's really a trip to go back into your childhood's mind and remember how these big questions used to dominate us. We have the same questions as we did then, but somehow they were so much more vivid... perhaps because we didn't have the vocabulary we do now.

And I know you always know EXACTLY what I mean. I love that about you.

xoxo

@Liz: I think I'm on the path that I'm supposed to be on. It may not be a traditional one but it's mine. I'm glad your pastor was able to use that story to help others. It just wasn't a story I wished to have anything to do with. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

@msHedgehog: You bring back another interesting memory because now you've reminded me that I had the same reaction to the story of Eve and the Snake. There's a clarity and innocence of thinking in the mind of a child that somehow we lose along the way.

I think we've both reminded each other of something quite important. Thank you for that.

@A Cuban in London: "there's more than enough imagination, creativity and fantasy in ordinary human beings and that's what 'makes me high', so to speak..."

Exactly, my friend. Exactly. That's what I'm trying to say as often as I can. This world and our lives are too short and precious to not appreciate what is here before us. Thank you for writing this.

@CSouthwell: I don't think there's a specific age at which we begin to question things. But I hope that there's a point where people do because to not understand why and how you believe what you do is both a loss to the individual and a danger as well. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and the comment. George Carlin has a lot of very funny and very intelligent things to say. Thanks for your visit.

@sonorossa: If Hanukkah's a reason to enjoy friends you don't normally get to see, or enjoy foods that you don't eat often, then I'm all for it. In my case, the friends I feel most comfortable with are those with whom I share interests and passions: tango, photography, film, food, books. And so the social aspect of going to temple probably wouldn't have much to offer me there either.

I'm racking my brains to try to explain what the rabbi said, but then I realized that One2Tango summarized it well in her comment below: That Abraham was misunderstanding, and that God never intended for him to kill his son. Now, perhaps that's the modern take on this story, but when I read it, it seemed pretty straightforward to me.

@namastenancy: I don't have enough of a frame of reference (you have much more of a worldwide perspective than I do) but I understand every word you say. Getting out and seeing the world plays a large part in how you eventually form your opinions, I think. The less you experience, the less you know. And the narrower the world becomes.

We can't afford to just take someone else's word for how things are.

@Char: I think you're right. Celebrate what makes you happy. I think it's marvelous that you grew up exposed to different religions and cultures. That has to be the best of all possible worlds for a child.

@Gabby: I am sure all "spiritual titans" are also messhugag. Heck, we all are messhugah. I think you just have a better way of dealing with it than a large portion of the world's population. And as a follower of Gastronomic Judaism (of which I did not realize there was a proper association), I am glad to be one of your tribe.

@Cynthia: I used to really not want to obtain first-hand experiential knowledge, but now I think that is really the only kind worth having (for me, at least). I was in a meditation community for years, which gave me some good practices, but even there I realized that I have to do things on my own.

I'm glad you gave "tangobaby" a chance... her bark is worse than her bite. ;-)

@Johanna: I always look to you for wisdom and understanding of Big Questions, and again even here in your comment, I love what you have to share.

@cerius: thank you for your visit. I am still trying to figure things out, like the rest of the world. It's nice to know we're not alone, isn't it?

@One2Tango! Hello! I'm so glad to see you here. I do forget to check in with all of you, don't I? I wanted to thank you for retelling the version of the story you came across, because it is what the rabbi wanted to tell me, and you explained it beautifully. I wasn't able to reconcile this version with the one of my childhood reading, so it still didn't make much sense to me.

I'm glad you're here. Thank you for writing. ;-)

@Yoli: Thank you for your wishes. They are warmly received and I'm very grateful! ;-)

@Leau: I'm glad we have some mutual friends in common who brought you here, and I thank you for your visit. I hope you find a way of enjoying each day as if it were a holiday. ;-)

@Mari: There was a retrospective here about five years ago, and his work is so layered and full of stories. It's truly magical art.

@Ron: I just write, and sometimes things come out that resonate with others, and for that, I'm the most happy of all.

I did not realize the importance and history of Festivus, so thank you for opening my eyes to yet another tradition!

@mrs. sarah ott: When you write about your beliefs and the joy and truth you see about you, I realize that you have the kind of mind that seekers wish to have. You find beauty and meaning everywhere you look, and I'm so glad to know you.

~K: No matter what the roots are of what traditions we hold dear, I think the most worthy thing is to decide if those traditions still work for us. And if not, what do we create to take their place?

@Gillian: I think your comment describes perfectly what we lose when the love and care we receive from family IS the tradition. That is the part that is hardest to lose. Soul imbibed with a meal... how simple and perfect you say it. It's true, that sharing.

xoxo

@dutchbaby: I did not know that about you, and your childhood. I'm glad your children have your years of thoughtful insight to help them navigate. You are an excellent teacher.

@DerekSmalls: I want to thank you again for your comment. Perhaps you've distilled it best of all, we all want to make ourselves better people. We all have different paths to try to do this.

And I know I've mentioned this before, but I am now convinced that you have the best Blogger name ever. And I am changing mine to Nigel Tufnel even though I am female.

@ZaHaN: If that works for you, I'm glad for you.

@Christina: I know you do. You make it all good, too. You know. xoxo

@Sandra: I guess we need that base of experience, whether we decide to follow in others' footsteps or create our own ways. Not feeling alone, either way, is important. Thanks for sharing your story.