Inspired by Rabbi Irwin Kula’s [life changing] book “Yearnings – Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life”
Last October I found myself stumbling in life. I had everything I could need, most of what I wanted, and yet I felt empty. I felt like I needed inspiration. I felt a gaping hole in my heart, a sort of boredom with my beliefs. And while I have never been interested in organized religion, I found myself really despising how carelessly I tossed around the words “my god.”
And in a bookstore in Miami, with Timmay and Vince, I found Yearnings.
I loved so much about the book that I decided to break it down into several blog posts – the type of inspirational crap that won’t mean anything to anyone other than me (unless you don’t consider inspirational blog posts to be crap). But the type of writing that helps me reflect, digest, learn, and write for the sake of writing.
Me, Myself, & I
I’ve always said that I am a most multi-facetted being. Not that everyone else isn’t, but just that I can appreciate so many types of experiences, it would seem I often contradict myself.
A few examples:
- I love strip clubs, dive bars, and casinos. Loveeeeee them.
- But yet, I would happily spend my entire weekend watching little old ladies learn the value of their tchotchkes on Antiques Road Show… or spend days walking the halls of art museums…
- I love gangsta rap, in fact I have two JL Audio W0 12″ subs with a Rockford 1500wt amp for my car.
- But I adore Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday more than life itself. In fact the Song Books are some of the most beautiful music I know of.
And then I can go a little bigger:
- I love beautiful leather, big shiny sunglasses, silks and linens and 4″ heels, fast cars and big houses, pools and parties and friends… and the fast-paced career that affords me these things.
- But I could throw my entire caged-corporate life away in a second, and most people that I know, to hawk beer on an island, living in a shack with Vince, waking up to the sound of the ocean and not caring about sun damage or free radicals or pretty possessions at all – as long as I had him and the beach.
So far, I haven’t found a way to be all of these things at once. Around my older, more conservative co-workers, I am the more conservative-AntiquesRoadshow-Ali. Around my younger, fun-loving friends I get to be a silly-girl, ready to laugh at myself and them. When I’m around boys I develop a deep appreciation for gross humor and dirty jokes (making some of the best myself) but around my girls I suddenly turn into a shoppaholic, a Devil Wears Prada inspired deal-seeker with a small room for a closet (seriously.).
And that’s where Yearnings came in. Below are some quotes, and if I’ve done a decent job of describing my various selves, these will be in the proper context. And if you can relate to me, maybe they’ll blow your mind too….
“The images we have of ourselves are really attempts to streamline complexity, to make a neat story out of our many facets.”
“We need a recognizable identity to get us through the day. But we forget that what we call self is really only a moment truth. There is no single enduring identity. We need a self image, but ought not forget that it’s just an image; a sense of self. Fidning our permanent Self – no matter how much we search – just isn’t going to happen. When we think we have this self, it’s time to search again.”
Reading those words was like taking a long drink of water after walking through the desert. Someone confirmed to me – OF COURSE I have many facets and selves. Of course I fit in with different groups and have different personas.
“The yearning for self is essential to our development but it is of course a quest that can never be fully satisfied. Rather than trying to define who we are, what if we sought an ever-deepening understanding of how MUCH we are.”
We are, in fact, the relationship between our ever-emerging selves.
“This is why identities are tension-filled, contradictory, and inconsistent. Sometimes we can only experience this complexity when our carefully constructed self is interrupted, even shattered.”
This concept – in my opinion – is brilliant. *I* am the relationship between my selves. I love it. It makes so much sense, I don’t know how I didn’t realize it before. My gangsta rap days are from years and year and years ago – my jazz days are more recent. And here I sit in the middle, the cord that ties them together, that loves them both. And the more things I love, the more polished I become, the more facets I have… the MORE I am.
“Here is the central insight: The more we allow our selves to unfold, the less likely we are to unravel. When we hold our identities lightly, knowing that they are temporary constructions, humble absolutes, the crises and crossroads in our lives tend to be less shattering. When we can embrace those “not me” moments, our more interesting “me” becomes truly alive.”
And so I’ll close with this: I am not who I was 10, 5 or 2 years ago. I am not just the Ali you knew – I’m so much more. I’m a better Ali. We all change…
But the best part is: We might have more in common now, and I am sure that we will never have less.
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