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Posts from April 2024

Gaining Perspective in Uncertainty

Not a pity party

On my recent birthday, a friend asked what plans I had. I told her, breakfast at my favorite café (Aioli), lunch with my mother at a restaurant on the ocean (Latitudes), ending with a private pity party, perhaps paired with birthday cake. A realistic plan.

I haven’t done pity lately because of my preoccupation with Israel and the continuing brutal holding and who knows what horrors experienced by the 133 hostages; and the continued rocket attacks in Israel, especially in the north and feeling empathy for the stress that all Israelis are living with; and the parallel stress that Jews worldwide are experiencing because of the events in Israel, the resulting vile onslaught of antisemitism and the dangerous hypocrisy that it breeds. And the sadness at the tragedy in Gaza that a terrorist government, supported by another terrorist government, has caused and continues to cause, abetted by antisemites in high places.

The drive home from the restaurant was along the ocean on the A1A, with its occasional view of the ocean amidst luxury homes and lush tropical greenery. A true staycation feeling. For a moment, I forgot the human-created tragedies and noticed the beauty that there still is in this world.

When I got home, I listened to a new voicemail message. It was from my gynecologist. No, big deal, she said, but call before the end of the day to discuss the results of my annual exam.

The no big deal, turned out to be a slight chance of cancer. Ugh. Not the word you want to hear any day, especially on your birthday. But what surprised me was that the celebratory pity party I had planned was immediately replaced by thoughts of gratitude. Of course, I don’t want cancer, and I hope and pray that the follow-up test I took the next week shows that it’s nothing, but in that moment, and since then, I realized that I had no need to wallow in woe-is-me: I am immensely grateful for my life.

Sure, I’d like things to be different, and, yes, I’m working toward that, but all-in-all, my life is pretty darn good. No winter home along the A1A, or even a condo in Delray Beach, or a partner to make my birthday breakfast, but there are people who I care about and who care about me—and I’m retired! And there is purpose outside of myself.

It occurred to me, too, as I tamp down diagnosis anxiety, that the work I’ve been doing on myself, especially since October 7th, probably has something to do with that. My focus has been more on the spiritual and religious, connecting to the wisdom and stories of Judaism and Jewish people: the long thread of life that has been at the core of my ancestors, and of wanting to be a better version of myself, growing from those traditions and accumulated wisdom.

A friend told me that children view people our age as old. We both laughed at the idea of being considered old in our 60s. But, now, sitting here, I kind of like that. Perhaps that explains where I am on my journey: this desire to focus on the transcendent, on being there for others and learning how to do that best, trying to elevate my soul (that which is essence), to keep being worthy of the trust people have placed in me as a person.

Praying for health and peace and compassion.

Follow-up: I'm thankful to say that the doctor said my test was negative. Breathing sighs of relief.