Fat Lady on a Bike: My Journey to Peace and Fitness

Join me and my wonderful Electra Townie bike on my continuing journey to inner peace and both inner and outer fitness.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about transitions, probably because my life seems to be fraught with them right now.  For a start, there was the shift from Hawaiian Standard Time to Eastern Daylight Time, which has been brutal.  But that's not the only one; it seems as though every other area of my life, except my family, is currently in a state of flux.

In the work realm, KlezKamp is moving from Living Traditions, Inc. to the Mayrent Insittute for Yiddish Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  My other major professional involvement, as a board member of the Mohala Hou Foundation, is also changing, as we take over the administration of Aloha Music Camp in the aftermath of some major personnel upheaval.

In the physical world, diffiicult transitions abound.  Moving from wakefulness to sleep, and from sleep to wakefulness, continues to be difficult for me much of the time.  And lately, the transition from lying down or sitting to standing has been painful as well.  There is also the sometimes elusive transition between hunger and fullness to deal with.

Psychically, things are no better -- I continue to struggle with the transition between the hope I have of accomplishment on any given day to the reality of what I am able to do.

Transitions are difficult. Energetically, the law of inertia applies:  it is way easier to keep doing what we have always done than to do something different.  Specifically, I seem to need to know where I am and what I am about in order to feel comfortable in the world, and clearly, that is not always possible.  Learning to tolerate the ambiguity of flux has been one of the challenges I've been working on as part of my journey towards health and inner peace.

Tonight Passover begins, and at the first seder we sing a hauntingly beautiful song called Karev Yom,which is about the coming of a day which is neither day nor night.  I've always loved that song, partly because it is so beautiful, partly because you only get to sing it one night in the whole year, and partly because the imagery is as haunting as the melody.  But even beyond the beauty and mystery of the lyric is the psychological rightness of the metaphor.  At this hour on this day, our kitchens are turned over from every day to Passover use; the khometz (products made with the five prohibited grains: wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt) has been either thrown out or segregated for our last non-Passover breakfast, and the special passover foods are waiting for the holiday to begin.  We are in the moment which is neither Passover nor not-Passover.

The discomfort of such a moment is both practical and spiritual.  In practical terms, there is the huge question of what do we eat for breakfast and lunch.  Traditionally, since khometz is allowed until 10am, we always leave out one non-Passover place-setting to be washed and packed away after a normal breakfast, whatever that might be. It is also traditional not to eat matzo until the seder, so we have usually lunched on a bit of chicken from the soup I make for the seder, maybe with some kosher for Passover potato chips and carrots, washed down with a side of Dr. Brown's black cherry soda.  But spiritually, it is not a comfortable day, and that is not only or even primarily due to the pre-seder frenzy.  The sigh of relief and peace that for me always accompanies the moment we sit down at our seder table is partly because all the work is done but also, I think, because at that moment I once again know where I am and what I am about.

May all of us, whatever we celebrate, find those moments of certainty and learn to live more comfortably with the times of transition.

I wish all my Jewish friends and family a zisn, koshern pesakh (a sweet, kosher Passover).

A hui hou.

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