Zero Measure

I haven’t been sleeping well since I got back from Alaska. The time change was easy heading west: All I had to do was stay up late. Coming east wasn’t as easy–it feels like midnight at four in the morning. So today’s fiasco actually began last night: I didn’t get to sleep till five. In the morning.

So waking up at nine? Didn’t happen. Ten? Not even then.

And it only got worse from there.

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Snow, Sick and Sorry

So there was this guy, and try as he might to always be present, often he’d just sort of…disappear. And he’d make many good friends and he would do many cool things and then, without warning, seemingly without reason, he would vanish as if all those friends he had made were no one and all those things he was doing were nothing.

Then, usually but not quite always, some time later he would reappear–miraculously almost–and things would seem fine and dandy again. But lurking always on the other side of the season, there lingers some unseen reason when–poof–he’ll disappear again.

This last week? It’s been one of those seasons.

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The World on Fire

I wrote this the other day and figured it was too mentally askew to be worth posting. I was in a bad place–stressed by finals, consumed by philosophy–and strange things happen in dark corners on bright days, you know? So I’ve been thinking about it anyways, and since I’ve had some more time to consider it, to reflect on it, I’ve found there’s actually some merit in it after all.

So with no further ado, I present to you “Dancing Fire”:

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Criminal Intent

When last we spoke of the Rabbis, our lesson dealt with studying while strolling and we were able to apply the lesson in three wildly different applications–to teach us to focus, to teach us to rest, and to teach us that distracted walking is a real danger in the modern world. This teaching also focuses on studying, but its implications can be far greater–and far more severe.

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The Second I in Identity

There’s a dent between the “I” I was before and the “I” I am now. Life batters us. Damages us. We try (and sometimes we succeed, yet sometimes we fail) to rebuild ourselves, but no matter how close to perfect our handiwork comes, we’re never quite the same as we were before. We change. Piece by piece, part by part, cell by cell, until we are all unrecognizable. But bits remains. Bits will always remain–in our appearances, perhaps, or our temperaments possibly–but in time we become someone different. Someone new.

It’s this tide going in and going out that’s the journey of our lives. Through sorrow and joy, through love and disappointment, each instant shapes us for the next. We are a function of powers beyond us, yet we cannot be differentiated–nor can we be integrated. What leads us is all that we have. There is no other relation.

Metaphor aside, where do I stand? In this moment, I am more than a man sitting before a screen, typing furiously upon a keyboard abused by his hands. Nor are you–my audience, a reader, a friend perhaps, or even a stranger–just a person behind a computer or on the other side of a tablet or e-reader. You are whole, as I am whole, and the missing pieces are not quite missing, but not yet discovered, not yet chiseled from this form we call our bodies.

I’ve come a long way, yet sometimes I fear I haven’t come at all.

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It Makes Us Smart

A week ago I was still sick. Then a little less than a week ago I finally got put on prescription drugs, which are very similar to those other medications I was thankful for, but were finally strong enough to kick out this sickness for sure. (Truth is, I’ve got some residual allergies, and my lower back still hurts although I’m not sure why, and I’ve got a bit of a cough remaining, but for the most part I feel much–much–better than I did last week.)

So now that I’ve had a week of lying in bed, reading late into the night and sleeping late into the day, it’s time to get back to life. It’s time to let life get back to me. Tomorrow starts what is technically my fifth semester of college, and let me tell you, I’m thankful for that.

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The Torah on One Foot

1.15     Shammai taught:

Make the study of Torah your primary occupation;
Say little, do much;
Greet every person with a cheerful face.

I love this teaching. And it comes at a perfect time: When I’m not just one day late, but nearly two whole days late in posting this. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I’ve forgotten, but that I’ve been preoccupied with other things—other studies, namely physics and programming.

Is it better, then, for me to study Torah, or to study my classes?

I struggle with similar questions every day, as I would assume most of us do: Which action will take me farthest, will get me the best, will provide the most for the ones I love? There can truly be no answer among the multitudes, when every circumstance and situation dictates wholly contrary answers relative to each other, but this teaching, I feel, tries to unify them all.

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From Precepts to Pillars

1.2       Shimon Ha-Tzaddik was one of the last members of the Great Assembly. This was a favorite teaching of his:

The world rests on three things—
on Torah, on service of God, on deeds of love.

Week number two, and I’ve made it. It feels good. So far, this commitment is keeping to its goals (or rather, I’m keeping to mine). I know last week’s came a day late (and depending on time zones, this one might appear a day late as well), but in my defense that was only because of a problem with my internet not loading on Saturday, not that I didn’t do my studying then.

What’s more is that keeping this commitment is itself a fulfillment of these three pillars. (I use “pillars” in a neoclassical sense, in imagining the world held aloft on three pillars akin to Atlas and the globe; perhaps such a visage is scientifically inaccurate, but it’s metaphorically useful in such regard, as should one pillar fall, the standing of the other two becomes inept and the world falls no matter how strong they might be. It’s a balance, no doubt, which likely I’ll get at later.)

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Pokemon Wednesday: Round Two

When I last wrote about my endeavors in the world of Pokemon (or perhaps I should write when I first wrote about my endeavors in the world of Pokemon…), I mentioned mostly how I came into the series and why I continue to like it, both very interesting in their own rights, but still rather finite, which doesn’t make for much of a continuing discourse, or for much incentive to come back….

And at the present state of my life, I need incentive to remember even the smallest things. If not for stomach pains, chances are, I’d forget to eat. If not for drooping eyelids, I’d forget to sleep. If not for the threat of Fs, I’d forget to study, too, but then I wouldn’t be busy most likely, since it’s my perpetual studying that’s absorbing most of my time these days.

I digress. This is, after all, Pokemon Wednesday not Let’s Rant Wednesday, so some minimal amount of relevancy is requested, if not wholly required, to be rightly delivered. But here I am, digressing once more…. This is why they invented the back button, and this is why I refuse to use it here: Pokemon’s a reflection of life, and like most blogs, writing this is itself a reflection of my present life, so to remove one representation of my life in favor of another is itself without purpose or merit here.

Allow me to elaborate.

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