Thursday, July 13, 2017

Week in Seven Words #350

Prayers, exuberant songs fill the synagogue. In the back, a woman who has a mental illness is bent over a book on her lap. Occasionally, she says something that sounds like, "But, but, but..."

We brainstorm stories, and she becomes less timid with her ideas. She's worried that what she writes will somehow be wrong. The idea of mistakes not even mattering in a draft - that anything can go into a draft - is delightful to her.

We discuss repentance and how to keep it from becoming self-flagellation. Repentance is oriented to practical action - acknowledgement of the wrong done, and sincere efforts to make amends and to make changes to future behavior. Self-flagellation pushes people into purely emotional territory, where they give themselves up to their own sense of wrongness and get stuck in it.

The front steps are the place to go for downtime. If there's a spare half-hour between meetings, and the sun is out, settle down. The narrow street before you becomes the world for a while. Read, close your eyes, maybe hope for an interruption from someone you like.

For a moment, I think it's a real dog, dead or injured and floating in the river. But it's only a stuffed animal. Soon after, a boy comes running with his younger sister following. They find a short, spindly branch by the river bank to haul it in.

It's a peaceful evening, the clouds stitched to the sky in threads of peach and light blue. The wind carries sea salt on its breath. Leaves are murmuring overhead.

It's tacky to put the names of politicians on a kippah. But he likes to turn himself into a walking ad for his favorites.


Brian Joseph said...

I like your commentary under "grounds". I think there is much to it. I will give this some thought today.

HKatz said...

Thanks, Brian - it's something I revisit too.

Barbara Fisher said...

Emboldened is a great word, and I like what you’ve done with it.
I’m scared every time I write something for my blog. I’m sure there are mistakes in my posts, but I hope my blogging friends will forgive me. :-)

Roderick Robinson said...

Well aware that I suffer from a whole host of mental illnesses (acute self-regard, inflated superiority, logorrhea (or, if you prefer it, logorrhoea) and - worst of all - a tendency to quote in foreign languages) I now find you've identified yet another of my maladies, although my "But, but, but..." utterances are always with me and don't require the stimulus of a revealed religion. I doubt things. Self-dependence is my rapidly deflating lifebelt but it cannot last. Thereafter the prospect of an otherwise deserted, celestial cocktail bar with only non-alcoholic drinks and Donald Trump for company, he repeating over and over "I coulda been a contender. I coulda..."

But pessimism can be fun. It's got a large vocabulary

HKatz said...

@ Barbara - Thanks, I sometimes get that feeling too. It's usually best to push through it and post :) I like what you share on your blog.

@ Roderick - I try not to force myself to feel optimistic (the false cheer, "turn your frown upside down" doesn't work). But I also know that if I let the self-doubt and pessimism get too out of hand they will immobilize me.