Thursday, September 29, 2005
There's a Ba'al Shem Tov story about 2 Jews who were viciously arguing. The Besht asked his Chassidim to make a circle around the pair, hold hands, and close their eyes. The opponents, involved in their melee, failed to notice this holy circle gathering around them. One Jew screamed at the other, "I'M GOING TO TEAR YOU APART LIKE A FISH!" The Chassidim - still in their circle - saw a vision of this poor Jew literally being torn apart by the other.
What was the Ba'al Shem Tov's lesson to his students? Words are so powerful. Words create worlds. Words create realities that we may not even be in touch with.
One time I was in the post office, and they had a TV on. Anyway, there's this talk show host named Dr. Phil, and I'm standing there on line watching him. Dr. Phil was trying to help some people make major changes in their lives. People who had been through terrible ordeals. People whose pain nobody should know from. So Dr. Phil was talking to each person individually, asking them to describe their feelings on their situation. One lady started talking, and Dr. Phil interrupted her. "I have absolutely no idea what you're saying to me," he said. "You're saying so many words, I don't understand what your real feelings are." BOOM! That hit me like a ton of bricks. An epiphany in a Brooklyn post office.
Sometimes, when speaking, I can create a whole facade around my feelings. I'll try and talk to someone, and I'll be afraid to let the naked truth out. I'll do a little dance around my emotions, elaborate a little, be euphemistic. I can't let my words out without ribbons. They need to be pretty, and shiny, and a little unreal.
I went to hear an amazing speaker last night, and she was talking about change. Radical shifts in our personae. She was saying that it's okay not to dress up our words so much. Why do we have to be slaves to hyperbole? To nurture a place of insecurity within ourselves! For example, I couldn't just say "thank you" to someone if they did me a big favor. I would have to say it several times, and tell them how much they helped me, how much it meant to me, la dee da. I need that person to feel valued, perhaps so they in turn will value me.
I also realized that my own "self-words" are debilitating. (For those in the know, "labeling is disabling.") I think I'm anxious, therefore, I'm an anxious person. I like to do chessed, so I'm kind. I make parenting mistakes, maybe I'm not a good mommy. You know what? These are just characteristics, they aren't the real me. I don't have to define myself like that.
The real me is my holy Jewish soul, forever bound up in G-dliness.
The real me is untouchable.