Monday, September 13, 2010

The Toolbox

One concept in Jewish thought that I always liked is written about beautifully in the book Woman to Woman (which is based on a series of lectures by Rebbetzin Esther Greenberg).  Basically, the idea goes like this: if you were a construction worker with some kind with an intelligent foreman for a boss, you could show up at work one day and, based entirely on what is in your toolbox and where you are, figure out what you are meant to do that day at work.  Of course, we are the worker and Gd is the foreman.  Our gifts and passions are within our toolbox and our life's circumstances are the setting.  

Ok, now that I've butchered that I can move on.  

I was recently fortunate to spend a Shabbos meal with some NYU students, including a woman who recently graduated from the same theater program I went to.  We discussed our shared feelings of conflict over being theater artists who had become passionate about our Judaism.  We came to term our Torah learning a "wakening of the sleeping giant."  Inconvenient, but ultimately not something one can ignore.  There's a giant in the room.  An awake one.  That changes the situation.

So here we are, albeit still in two somewhat different places, trying to figure out this delicate balance between our creative gifts and passions and the indescribable beauty of Torah and a Torah lifestyle.  

And I think it is starting to be time to check out that back burner which has been caring for my artistic soul for the last two years while I've explored a new part of myself.  

While I am happy with the choices I've made and certainly wouldn't take anything back, I am inarguably in a different place than I ever expected to be.  

Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht. (Yiddish proverb- Man plans and Gd laughs.)

Forget the Orthodox Jewish bit (if you can fit that pink elephant into the corner for a moment, thank you).  How about the married bit?  The imminently arriving BABY bit?  The--dare I say it--living in SUBURBAN NEW JERSEY bit?

This was not the plan.  And I'd spent a good decade crafting this plan.  And I spent much of the last two years trying to craft a NEW fabulous plan that would make this all fit neatly together.  Way to learn the lesson, self.

And yet, I wouldn't change a thing.  No, this is not the route to my Oscar.  Nor are we buying our one-way tickets to Israel any time soon.  How unglamorous of us.

On the other hand, I am currently engaged in the single most creative act known to mankind.  THIS SECOND.  And this one. 

It's time to accept that this is not the workplace I anticipated.  The needs of the world I live in now are not the needs I thought I would one day fill.  What I have to offer will not be received the way I had planned out.  Nu?  It's taken me two years to come to terms with this?  I've been observing this phenomenon for all this time without swallowing that pill (which ultimately I don't think is even such a bad pill to swallow!).

It's time to look into the toolbox, get a good lay of the land, and start building.


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