MemberNovember 4, 2020 at 5:11 pm
Hi Everyone! My filter was acting up this past week and blocked Masterpiece, but today I was able to get on! I have a lot of catching up to do; there are so many great posts! Meanwhile, here is something I wrote today, and I want some critique (and, okay, some compliments too!). I want to publish this. It’s kind of a smush between a personal story, a D’Var Torah and mental health article. I’m not sure which magazine it would be best for. Any suggestions? Here it is:
Mindfulness is a buzz word these days, and it hasn’t gotten lost on me.
And yet, the other day when I came home from school, I moaned. My cleaning help had disappeared and there was a pile of dishes and laundry awaiting me, as well as three hungry kids. The crumbs and the greasy kitchen floor (in the spot where my baby had dropped his chicken earlier) further heightened my annoyance. I already felt my senses alerting me that there was an overload of work being thrown at me.
If only the cleaning lady hadn’t unceremoniously dumped me…
If only I could learn to keep it all together myself…
Of course, these thoughts did nothing more than to heighten my senses to the ‘danger’ surrounding me. I stepped on a veggie straw and felt my muscles weaken. I threw myself on the couch.
But something bothered me. How, how could I appreciate this moment when it had gone all wrong. My cleaning lady wasn’t supposed to cancel. Perhaps if I tried or pushed myself harder (i.e. kill myself) I could have cleaned up the mess myself despite my full schedule.
But then I remembered the book I was reading the other day.
Don’t think mindfulness. Think Da’as.
“Chochmah is undifferentiated wisdom, the facts we know without any explanation- for example, red and green colors. Binah is understanding and analysis of those facts- that is, a red light means to ‘stop’ and a green light means to ‘go’…Daas is the confluence of chochmah and Bina: it is the ability to merge the two in practical application of that wisdom. This is the knowledge when to stop driving and when to proceed…Daas means awareness, being attentive to what’s happening around us and carefully observing how to apply our capabilities to the current situation.”*
So in my situation, chochma would be knowing that the cleaning help didn’t arrive as expected, Bina would be understanding that the house would be messy today until I would find a calm, free moment to clean it up…and Daas would be knowing how to react in the moment when I came home with the kids and not get overwhelmed…knowing to lower my expectations; knowing that taking care of the kids and myself would have to be the priority this moment despite the mess around me.
“In another sense, chochmah refers to the past- it is what I already know. Binah parallels the future, where I can go with that knowledge. Daas represents the present, what I can do with what I know right now.”*
Thinking about how the cleaning lady should have come would be mulling over my past. Wishing I could have a personality transplant and learn to juggle a hundred balls would be shooting into the future, and getting overwhelmed was a typical response I exhibited in the present.
“Every person possesses chochma and binah. They parallel the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Alternatively, chochmah represents the mind, while binah parallels the heart. Daas corresponds to the Medulla oblongata, which connects the brain to the nervous system.”
Hmmm…medulla oblongata. That sounded familiar. I recalled that when we had a suspicion that one of my kids had a sensory issue, we took them for OT and I read up about sensory system. The brain stem, the location of the medulla oblongata had come up many times. When it functions with maximum capacity, the medulla oblongata effectively filters out what is important and what isn’t in our surroundings, allowing us to make optimal choices in the present.
Knowing what to focus on in the moment or not to focus on in the moment. In other words- Daas.
I look around at the mess. I think of my own needs, my children’s needs. Can I effectively filter out what is important right now?
But the cleaning help…but my inadequacy…how do I move on when, if I had to admit to myself…how do I move on when life isn’t perfect.
But perhaps that’s the point…it doesn’t take a genius to discover light on a sunny day. But can I find the courage in this imperfect moment, a fusion of the choices and pain of my past and the dreams and hopes of my future, to see the spark of light packaged inside the present moment…can I use my Da’as to focus on the light within myself, within the situation. Can I effectively combine my chochmah and binah into an empowering thought that will fuel, not drain, my Daas?
The cleaning help didn’t show up. That’s annoying- but it’s not dangerous. No one ever died from veggie straws on the floor. And I guess if someone invents a personality transplant, I’ll be the first to sign up, but until then…
My baby toddles over to me. He had managed to open peanut butter (or perhaps was it my three year old with his guilty grin?) and proceeds to give me a sticky hug. But I laugh.
The dishes may still be in the sink, and the laundry might be overflowing, but so was my heart, and that’s what really counts.
MemberNovember 4, 2020 at 5:14 pm
Sorry, the italics isn’t working, so I guess keep that in mind.
Also I forgot to mention that the book the quotes are from is called “Earning a Living, Earning a Life” by Chaim Kramer, page 137
MemberNovember 4, 2020 at 5:36 pm
This piece was excellent. I would work a bit more maybe to spice up the story at the beginning. The rest of the writing flowed beautifully and was interesting, meaningful and inspiring. It’s the kind of thing I would want to read in Binah! Thank you for sharing!!!
MemberNovember 4, 2020 at 9:17 pm
Elisheva I absolutely love how you put this piece together. It’s the type of writing I would probably clip and dig out when my “Das” needs to be straightened out a bit…
The funny part is that practically THIS weekend, I discussed the concept with my friend. I should really show her this. Please pm me if your ok with it. Otherwise, I guess I’ll need to wait patiently to clip it out of whichever mag gets the honor to host your talent…😉
MemberNovember 4, 2020 at 10:17 pm
I love this, Elisheva! I actually think that mindfulness is intertwined within Binah and Da’as.
Also, please don’t forget about my special mindfulness skills! They really help!
MemberNovember 5, 2020 at 2:48 am
Elisheva, I love this! Your style really pulls the reader in. And the last line!!! Beauty.
AdministratorNovember 11, 2020 at 11:38 pm
This is a great message and an interesting, inspiring concept to contemplate.
When we write, as you say, a “smush” piece, combining story + message + d’var Torah, it can be a bit of a tricky balance. You don’t want to alienate the reader by being too “frummy” or, on the other end of the spectrum, losing the less-educated reader. You also want it to be palatable and light so that we can keep that reader from turning the page.
I wonder if this piece could work well as a blogpost. Blogposts are great for “smush pieces”–I think that just became a thing! 🙂 Blogposts have more of a conversational style and the reader is more open to going wherever s/he is taken. Am I mistaken, or did you actually start a parenting blog, Elisheva?? Unless I’m mixing you up with someone else…?
MemberNovember 12, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Yes, I have been contemplating this piece a lot. And my blog. I did start a blog but I kinda stopped because I realized that to reach the type of audience I want to reach I would need to go on social media. I’m scared of getting sucked into social media, which is the type of thing to happen to me, but the annoying thing is that the type of articles I enjoy writing are these ‘smush pieces’. Sometimes I have an amazing D’var Torah and when you write a story you can’t insert a d’var Torah, otherwise the story loses its entertaining aspect. But sometimes the D’var Torah is just BURSTING out of me…and I don’t know what to do with it! Help!
Log in to reply.