Letters to God – Part 20: On Death and Life

death_quote_5

Today someone died.

That should not surprise us, right God? There are billions of people in the world, millions in my country. Millions of people die every day. Nonetheless, death is something that still bothers us. We fear death. We hate death. But why?

The other day I took some time to think about this. Why don’t we live forever? How would the world look if we never died? The first image that came to my mind is that we would all be sitting in the beach, drinking coconut water and eating fish we took from the sea. All urgent things in life would disappear, because there would always be tomorrow.

But at the same time, this would create great stagnation of the human race. Why? Because if we had infinite time to do things, we would also take infinite time to do them. That is how we are. I don’t meant there would be no inventions, but the process would be much, much slower. I can imagine the typical conversation between two inventors/entrepreneurs in this world: “Jill: Bad news Joe – the test we did today for the itch-scratchy machine failed again. Joe: Bugger. Well, we’ll try again later. No rush, it’s not like we are going to die tomorrow or something like that”.

For some strange inner reason, we all want to change the world. We have a limited number of years, days, hours… And one day, hopefully without previous notice, we die. So we can’t wait for tomorrow, because who knows what will happen tomorrow. We must do things now.

My greatest fear is not death, God. Everything ends when we die. I fear for the living, because these are the ones who suffer when we go. I fear pain. I fear suffering. I fear being lonely.

But I don’t fear death. Because death is what makes me alive.

Letters to God – Part 19: Fasting

God, I HATE fasting.

There, I said it. The whole idea of not eating and drinking (specially drinking) for a day to elevate my body and become closer to an angel. Sorry, but my stomach does not seem to understand that he is now part of an angel that doesn’t eat. And my head feels likewise. And why in the middle of the summer? Why not put the day of fasting in the middle of winter? We would all really appreciate it.

So a couple of days before the fast I start getting very itchy. Just the thought of the fast… but let’s change the subject, OK? Let’s talk about Yom Kippur – the day of atonement.

Leaving outside the fasting (did I say I hate fasting?), it is overall a very interesting day. A day that concludes a ten-day period (for some 40+) where we ask for forgiveness for all of the things that we did wrong last year (since everything we do is good by definition, we surely did nothing bad last year. But we still can do thing that are wrong). And we ask you for forgiveness. And to please write us and sign us in the books of life, good deeds, livelihood, and many other books. You must have a very big library :-).

This year Yom Kippur was very difficult for me. I have been thinking about my life for the past half a year and more. And I still can’t make any sense of how things work. And I see that small children, that never did anything wrong, are not written in the book of health and life, but in the book of suffering and death. You tell us that this day “you shall afflict your souls”. My soul is already miserable God. I think that my actions have so much influence on my son’s pain. That if only I was a “better” person, then he would get well… But these are just dumb thoughts (and also somewhat megalomaniac). You are more complicated than that. It’s not as simple as cause and effect. Good people sometimes suffer a lot. Bad people sometimes live very good lives. Mysterious are your ways.

When I was at school, our Rabbi would tell us that if we pray, very strongly, with all of our hear, You will answer our prayers. But he never told us we would probably not understand the answer.

I still don’t.

Letters to God – Part 18: Forgive and Forget

source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/132363676520237623/

Next Sunday night, Jews all over the world will begin a new year. As usual, we will get together to eat ’till we drop, and in between meals we’ll go to the synagogue and pray. But our new year is not a year of festivals – it is actually the opposite. It’s a day of remembrance. It is our yearly opportunity to ask forgiveness for all the “bad” things we have done the past year, and ask that the year that comes be blessed with all of the best. And since we tend to be pretty bad, we have a whole 10 days to repent until the Day of Atonement where our future is signed and sealed for the next year.

Yes, God, you’re going to be very busy the next 2 weeks. With so many people calling to you, both those that talk to you every day, and those that come only once or twice a year. And we all have some much to say, so much to ask for, so much we want to forgive, so much we want to forget.

Forgiveness is a complex task. To forgive you have to forget. And there are things that you simply can’t forget. Things that no matter how much you try, are embedded in your memory and won’t let go. And they come back and remind you of the past. And you can’t forgive. No matter how much you try.

Forgiveness is also bi-directional. Most conflicts are not driven by only one of the parties involved – both of them are responsible, and because of this, both of them need to ask for forgiveness. And to forget.

And God I want to forget many seconds, minutes, hours of the last year! While my friends talk about the miracles that have happened, I think to myself (and also tell them) that I would prefer not see all these miracles, not to need them. Not that I don’t thank you for them, but still… Life has changed. Not for the good, not for the bad. I simply has changed.

There are so many moments that I want to forget and I can’t. So you can see why it is so difficult for me to forgive you. For all the pain my son has suffered. For the trauma of his three sisters, after waking up one morning to find their parents gone with their brother to the hospital, returning only a few day later, only to see their brother again a month later, unable to walk or talk. For how my wife and I can’t live a minute, a second, without thinking about that night, and how it can all return back any moment. Yes, it’s hard.

Yes God, it’s hard. But I forgive you. Because I want to forget.

Letters to God – Part 17: Constant Fear

04:30
– “Hi darling. What’s happening?”
– “He woke up with a headache and vomited. Feels OK but with a bit of a stomach ache. Doesn’t seem serious. He’s been having a weak stomach for the last couple of days so it’s probably related”
– “Ah, OK. Need any help?”
– “No, everything’s fine. Let’s try and get some more sleep. Long day today”
– “Yea, as always”

05:30
– “Vomited a bit again, and went to the bathroom. His tummy feels hot and noisy. Really hope this is not serious”
– “Yea, me too. Any idea how we can know if this is just a stomachache or something else? You know, now that he has the added drainage, how will we know?”
– “No idea… can’t find anything on the net. But he looks fine, and reacts normally”
– “God. Hi hate this. Hope he feels better soon. I’ll give him some tea for his stomach”
– “Great idea. I’ll take care of him now. Go get some sleep”

06:40
– “Morning love. He didn’t vomit again and is now feeling well. Still says that his stomach hurts a bit but didn’t go to the bathroom or anything. Played around very nicely until now”
– “Thank God. Probably a virus, or too much junk food during the weekend. I’ll talk to the doctor today just in case”
– “Good. Please do so. And by the way, Happy Anniversary my dear”
– “Happy anniversary to you too, my love”

P.S. The doctor said that it is probably some virus or something he ate. So thanks again, God…

Letters to God – Part 16: Routine

source: http://sonriseinsights.blogspot.co.il/2013/12/its-routine.html

Hi God. It’s been a while… the daily routing catches up, I get sucked into it, and forget the important things (like writing to you 🙂 ).

Every morning I wake up (and thank you!). After the usual morning chores (“why aren’t you dressed already??? It’s almost 7:30!!!”), I take my son and wife to the train so they can go to rehabilitation. Then I put each kid in their school/day-camp, and take the train to work. While my wife accompanies my son to all of his treatments, I sit in front of a computer and do all kinds of things that are very important for my company, but probably won’t change the world a lot. I have lunch with my co-workers, drink coffee, chat, and basically enjoy life. At the end of the day we all meet back at home, have a nice dinner together, shower the kids and put them to bed, talk a bit about the day, and Wham! It’s 11pm already and we must go to sleep because tomorrow is going to be another long day of routine.

Sounds boring but it is fabulous. Routine, routine, routine.

What an interesting topic. I love routine. It makes my life easier. Not having to think what I am going to do today, how I will cope with the unknowns that will come by surprise. Yes, there are surprises and I do have to think a lot. But nothing like what was going in my head a couple of months ago – asking myself what is the meaning of life? This is a hard question! But I don’t have time for it now. I have a Routine ™, so please don’t bother me with those abstract and complex things.

The problem is that I start to hide in the routine. There are still many things that must be done, doctors that must be visited, appointments that must be set. But I go to work, sit down in front of the computer, and forget everything. And suddenly at 3pm I remember that I had to do very important things, but it’s too late because all of the secretaries/assistants are already gone. So another day goes by.

And another important thing has changed with routine: prayer. It is so much easier to pray when you need it! It comes naturally, with no effort. Just open my mouth and prayer comes out. Now prayer becomes part of the routine, something that I do with everything else. And it loses its meaning, its depth. It feels like a lie. It is very, VERY hard to pray each day with the same energy as I did when in need. I simply can’t.

Funny, even when things are good we find that we can complaint about almost everything in life.

G-d, routine is good. I love it. And I love praying to you each day, even if it’s not as strong as in times of need. Please accept these prayers and don’t ask us for more.

We’ve had enough.

Letters to God – Part 15: Stuff

(This post was supposed to go out last Thursday, but as usual – you can plan and plan, but you never know how things will turn out)

Today is a good day. Well, every day we are alive is a good day, isn’t it? But today is even better.

Today we were thrown out of the rehabilitation hospital. OK, we didn’t get thrown out, but my son is in a very stable state and doesn’t need the extra night-care that is given at the hospital. Since we live relatively close to the hospital (that is, one hour drive), and there are other kids that have more need for his bed, the head doctor asked us if we minded moving to daily hospitalization. After some thoughts, weighting the pros and cons, the fears and more fears, we decided to jump to the opportunity.

So my wife started packing all of the stuff we had accumulated during our 4 months of hospitalization: toys, books, soap, shampoo, body lotions, more toys, food just in case we got hungry in the middle of the night or if our son didn’t like the food in the cafeteria, detergent, more toys, coffee and tea, more toys. It ended like this:

Stuff

(and this was in a hospital room with another kid in the same room)

This made me think how much we cling to all of the “stuff” that we have. It wasn’t like we didn’t go home each weekend, or had the opportunity to jump home almost each day. And the supermarket was just a block around…

We just need all of this stuff to feel secure, like we are in a comfortable place because we are surrounded by things that are ours. Stuff gives us a sense of security.

But on the other hand, it weights us down. If we want to move, we need to take all of the stuff with us. We have gotten used to it. Packing it all takes time, effort, and LOTS of space. And then it makes us slower, weighting us down. And it’s not only a physical burden, it also weights on our brains. Do we have this and that? Do we need more? What are we missing?

It takes great courage to live with less stuff. Stuff does not create certainty in life, as I know firsthand. It creates a false sense of security that can break in one second, and all you are left with is… just stuff.

So live experiences and have a good time. These are memories that last forever. Stuff just comes and goes.

P.S. my wife will surely say that I need to start practicing what I teach 🙂

Letters to God – Part 14: Four Months and a Lifetime Ago

An early morning four months ago our life was turned upside down and then shaken very hard. From having a relatively normal life, even if we went once a week to the hospital for chemo treatment, even if we had different exams every other week, even if we were always afraid… We still had some kind of routine.

But on that Saturday morning we had to run to the hospital, and after 6 hours in the operating room, the life of our son was on a thin line. We lived in the hospital day and night, sitting down beside his bed, praying, thinking, crying, praying some more. Asking you why, trying to understand.

And then came the first movement, opening his eyes. The moment he started communicating with us and we knew that there was someone really alive on the other side of those small eyes, behind all the tubes and machines that went beep, beep, BEEP BEEP BEEP, taking more and more of our already drained energies.

Slowly but with incredible strength, more and more tubes we taken out as his body took back control of its functions. One more operation. And then another one. And each time the worries rise again, of what will happen, of all of the things that can happen. The eternal wait outside of the operating room. Seeing him wake up again, alive, breathing, feeling, thinking, understanding.

The first steps were made and he started to regain more of his strength, and his willpower. Every day something new happened: a new movement, some blood test that was outside the “expected” range, some reaction that was “not what we expected”. And we moved on, because there is nothing else to do. When you are down in a hole, up is the the only direction you must look at. We kept on clinging to the rope that you had thrown from above, and pulled every day as hard as we could, feeling all of those who love us as an invisible platform that kept us from falling down again, and gave us strength to go up more and more.

Changes became more gradual each day. Small steps turned into full range walks, hand signs became sounds in his mouth, eye signals became words in conversations. Passive sleeping was replaces with active distraction and never-ending confusion. He was once again reading his favorite comic books, watching his favorite TV shows, building Lego… Everything is more hard than before, sometimes almost impossible. Concentrating takes a lot of energy and it lasts for a short time. Walking also makes him tired very fast. But every day is a new day, and every day is a new improvement.

And now we are back home. Not one of us, not divided. All of us together sleeping at home each day. Starting a new routine of going to rehabilitation each day and going back home at the end of the day. What a great way to celebrate the passing of these four months.

We have lived through so much that it seems like an eternity, and at the same time like it was only yesterday that we were at home, sitting at our dinner table, singing together, that Friday night before everything happened.

God… please make the next couple of months less interesting. We really need the rest.

Letters to God – Part 13: Deja vu

Last Saturday it happened again (actually three weeks ago, but it took me a while to finish this post). I was sitting at my table, putting some food in the plate of a kid at my right, and suddenly I realized that I had already lived this scene in my life. Or more correctly, I remembered having lived this part of my life. Strange, isn’t it? This is not the first time it has happened to me, and as the phenomenon has a name and its own wikipedia entry, I guess it is very common. Common but strange.

But as you know God, things stop becoming strange when we have an explanation them. There are many explanations for why Deja vu happens, and all of the scientific ones talk about how the mind is simply making a mistake. But we have very little knowledge of how our mind works (something I already knew but has been enforced by the last months). Nobody has a good idea of the correlation between neuronal damage and cognitive damage, or why people who have had a trauma lose their short-term memory, sometimes for a while, sometimes for longer time, sometimes forever. So these are all theories, but nothing that is really known.

We have advanced a lot in understanding how the brain reacts to external stimulus (i.e. behavioral economics, great topic to read about), but the internals of the brain are still blurry to us.

So I have my own theory, and I want to share it with you.

The idea that I started developing in my previous post is that our whole body is filled with sensors that feel the world. And as everything in the world is just energy, our body is sensing energy all around it. Going back to my theory of everything, I model the world as an infinite set of decision planes, where we are constantly moving from plane to plane based on the decisions we make and the possible outcomes that you have created for these decisions.

Traveling the Energy Planes

Joining these two ideas together, each decision plane is the combined energy state of all the universe. Yes, this is complicated so I’ll try to explain it again. The reality we feel is how our brain interprets the reactions to the energies that our body/mind senses all around us, and as we move forward in time and change things, the energies change to create a new reality that is again perceived by our body/mind. And as I wrote before, these new states are not random. You have pre-defined what states exist so that the universe moves in the direction you have decided for us.

And now for the leap of faith. So when we are not busy feeling the world around us (like when sleeping, or daydreaming), our senses can un-focus from the short energies they see and can sense things that happen in other planes. And if this plane later turns out to materialize from all of the possible energy planes, you get Deja vu.

Sensing Other Energy Planes

But not only Deja vu. Digging deeper into this idea, I can imagine people who have trained their senses to feel more than what is around them, and with enough concentration, they can feel other energy planes. And the stronger they are, the more they can sense. And this is how prophets exists. How there are people who can see the future, and the past.

So that is my theory. Somewhat crazy and completely unproven scientifically. Just like all other theories around :-).

Letters to God – Part 12: Sensing

Today I started writing about another subject, but at the middle of the letter I saw that you would need more background to understand what I was talking about (well, this is really not true as you should know all, but sometimes even I have problems understanding my thoughts, so I saw it fit to write this letter first).

We are taught at school that there are different states of matter: Solid, Liquid, Gas, etc. And everything is made up of atoms, which in turn are composed by electrons, protons, and neutrons. An atom is composed of a nucleus and a cloud of electrons surrounding it. The interesting thing is that the size of the atom (where the electron cloud ends) is around 10.000 times the size of the nucleus (and even more for light elements like gases). So it you think about it, there is a LOT of empty space out there. Actually, most of what we are is empty space.

So how can we feel stuff? If we are made up of so much empty space, why can’t we see or walk through walls? Why does it hurt when you accidentally slam a hammer against your finger while hammering a nail? Because matter is not what matters (no pun intended). The reason we can’t walk through walls, and that we can touch things, is energy. While there is a lot of space between the electron cloud and the nucleus, this space is like a demilitarized zone that is protected by the forces of the atom. Things simply cannot go inside this space without having to exert immense forces. And this energy also varies between elements and molecules, so we have solids, liquids, gas, etc.

It turns out that everything we sense are the changes in forces and energies around us. Light is energy, sound is energy, and touch is also energy. And having that, why can’t we have “energy” sensors? Let’s take feelings for example. When a person feels sad, they are probably expelling lots of “sad” energies. So if we had “feeling” sensors, we would feel this energy coming to us.

I think we already have these sensors, but most of us are not aware of them.

Letters to God – Part 11: Planning

Hi God. Here we are, again at the IC unit. And while this time it was not a complete surprise, once again you showed us how we can plan and plan and plan, but things happen when they must happen. We had a great weekend at home, and found ourselves again at the emergency unit on Saturday (but at least not so early in the morning as last time). And after a long wait (time sometimes flies, and sometimes it crawls), nothing “wrong” was found. But because things don’t “just happen”, we stayed at the hospital for some follow-up.

Interestingly, it turned out to be just for the good (as everything is, right?). It turned out that after some days in the hospital, where you can do some “experiments”, there is no need for one of the medications he receives. And not only that, but on the second day at the ward, the neurosurgeons started saying that “if we are already here, maybe we should do the operation that we planned for may? You know, to save you the going out of the hospital and coming back again?”

So yes, we humans have this tendency to plan things, and then reality (and You) comes and decides what will really happen. And it is so hard (at least for me) to change plans. And change them again. But we don’t have a choice.

And talking about planning, in the afternoon we had planned that my wife would stay the night in the IC unit and I would go early to sleep. And I was in the middle of writing this post… But just before I left we were told to move to the surgical ward because our bed was needed by a more urgent case.

Recalculating route. Once again.