Oct 14, 2010

Lech Lecha: But How?

If you want to read some really awesome and emotional posts, there is one from 2008, and I know others exist I just, I don't have the energy to find them. So what now? What brilliant morsel can I add to the catalog of Going Forth (לך לך)?

Ultimately, I view Lech Lecha as HaShem telling Avram to go forth toward himself, to go forth and discover who he was meant to be. But not just to go forth into the ether, a cloud of mystery and the unknown, but to do it with a purpose and a thought in mind.

"I have set G-d before me at all times" (Psalms 16:8), I think, is the key thought here. Go forth, with G-d in mind, and get it done. Figure yourself out. Take the steps and find your true self.

I've reached an impasse ... with myself.

This week was probably the most trying week of my life (of recent memory). I was sick last weekend and I didn't bother to give myself enough time to recover. I've been exhausted, coughing, and drained all week. I didn't get my schoolwork done, I didn't perform in class, I left my Academic Hebrew course this morning completely defeated. I couldn't answer questions, I was distant, I was completely disengaged. This week has put a lot of things in perspective, including the fact that graduate school isn't what it used to be. By that, of course, I mean that I don't have the time or energy to engage in classes: I don't live on or anywhere near campus, I have an annoying commute, I can't be a part of the experience because I have obligations of, oh, you know, married life and being an adult. Basically, life's gotten in the way of my academic aspirations.

And now? I'm asking myself: Can I do this? Can I do this while married and being Suzy Homemaker?

When I was at UConn, I lived on campus and, yes, Tuvia and I were full-time dating, but there was this unspoken rule that school came first. I also didn't have to cook and clean and run errands and sit in traffic like I do now. It was easier.

And I've never been one who chooses easy over what I want. But now, I'm just wondering, am I asking for too much? Has HaShem handed me this impasse?

My sentiments about life in general right now are exacerbated by the fact that Jews around me are dropping like flies. By this I mean losing faith in "the system" and toying with hopping off the derech. Monkey sees, monkey does, right?

Lech Lecha, this week's Torah portion says. Go forth. To a land that I will show you, it goes. In a perfect world, I'd pick up and move to Israel and get my spiritual self re-organized. But, of course, like I said, life. I have a job and school and a husband and a life. A life that is too big for me right now. Time to regroup. Reexamine.

So, for me, right now, Lech Lecha means going forth to figure. it. out. It, of course, being me. And this all comes after the chagim. Shouldn't I have done this already? Then again, underconstructionism is my policy. A work in progress, always and forever. And the only direction, in my opinion, is up. There's no turning back at this point. There's no down, just forward and onward. 

Shabbat shalom, friends. May you find peace in your hearts, calm in your homes. 


Anonymous said...

Agh - I hear you, I hear you.

I've not had the experience of being in graduate school and married, but this kind of difficulty - trying to get all the parts of your life work - I think everyone has been there.

Being married is a HUGE change from full-time dating, as you have realised. Running a home for two is more difficult than one, because there are roles to figure out, compromises to be made (or not) and sometimes, it feels as if something has to give in order to make it all gel.

It may be that you are find it extra tough because you're not fully recovered from being sick yet - being under the weather has this amazing ability to help me see the negatives in everything, so it could be that you are feeling the same. And not giving yourself enough time to get better - a lot of us do that in this fast-paced world...

I don't have any answers for you, but absolute empathy. Being a grown-up is tough sometimes!!

Shabbat Shalom x

Karen Zampa Katz said...

yes it is hard...

I decided to go back to school to get my masters degree when I moved from LA to NY with a 3 y/o daughter... Once I had my daughter I was a mommy/house wife... I knew I would need to work eventully, but the work I was doing ( TV news field producer) couldn't happen with children so I needed something new...

So When she turned 4 I went to school for Social Work ...more than 10 years after my undergraduate degree, full time, with a 4 day a week full time internship, an hour commute to School, day care, dinner, husband , house....YIKES!

Also important to note...I was always that crazy student ...I love learning...and would go above and beyond...

but I had to learn..."Good Enough"
good enough is a wonderful thing... it helped me balce it all...marriage, child, job-internship, school....sometimes we are not great...but good enough will do....

Shabbat Shalom

Anonymous said...

While you-know-who helps those who help themselves (I actually find this a hidden meaning in the Song of the Sea, i.e. G-D watches over but you have to start the journey first), that doesn't mean you can't check in for guidance along the way. I've totally been at this impasse and have found sometimes it helps to just let the impasse be and just listen for a whisper of guidance. The trouble with impasses is they usually make our minds scream so loud that we can miss quieter advice. You know?

David Tzohar said...

Rav Shlomo Zeivin wrote that lech lecha means go unto yourself to your inner self. What are the real priorities in your life? Are they spiritual or more down toearth. My own experience was that after investing four years of my life in the University, in the middle of an M.A. program I realized that this academic world was alma d'shikra a world of falsehood. I realized along with my wife that what mattered to us was not academic degrees or even the intellectual search for objective "truth", but a search for where we fit in the effort of the Jewish people to establish their own place in the world and how we could fulfill our duty to serve Hashem. This was a very difficult realization to come to but once it came it changed our lives and in retrospect I thank Hashem for giving us the strength to make and carry out the right decisions.

Do you really think that maybe your destiny is to come to Israel and make a family here? If so start planning for it...Today!

Daniel Saunders said...

I can empathize, as I've just started an MA and I'm finding it really hard work, especially as I haven't been in education for five years.

I think you need to ask yourself what you would be doing if you weren't in graduate school. Would you be any happier? Would life be any easier? I'm guessing you would be doing a full-time job, which might or might not be rewarding, and still doing the home-making - would that be any better?

Also remember that "this too will pass." Not every day of a degree will be brilliantly intellectually stimulating, not every day of a marriage will be like the honeymoon. The trick is to remember the good times in the difficult times. But you know this already.

Shavua tov.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

From reading all of your comments, I gathered a few important lessons. This, too, will pass; learn that "good enough" is enough; and follow my heart. All three lessons, incredibly good ones. The second one will be the hardest -- I'm the quintessential OVER achiever. It's who I am. It's my core. I'm an honors student for life. I also have to figure out a schedule that allows me to be academically happy and emotionally happy.

And if I can't? This, too, shall pass. :)

Batya said...

Darling, it's time to refocus on priorities. Health is everything. Don't take on too much.
refuah shleimah

aml said...

I have to agree with Daniel: keep the end goal in mind. Every day (or week, I guess) won't be fantastic and coming off the holidays make it that much harder (you're still recovering, whether you realize it or not).

Hang in there, keep your eye on the prize, and take it one day at a time.


Tziona said...

wow...i feel totally the same...but for all opposite reasons. It's been tough. This is hard! And I thought I was coming here to have the time of my life. I am enjoying things, but this is tough. I do live super close to campus. However, I really feel like it's making it harder for me to meet people. We can talk in person if you'd like...but hon I hear you. It's not been a bed of roses. I'm often questioning if I even deserve to be here. Let's hang before/after class sometime. -Erica

KosherAcademic said...

And if I may pipe in, ITA with Batya. Before ANYTHING else you need to take care of you. This is before school, house, food, husband (and eventually B"H children). If you aren't well, nothing else will work right and *everyone* will suffer. And I can speak from experience on this, and HaSafran will agree, I think.

Miss you. Get better. And let some things slide until you are well again.

Rivki Silver said...

Great post and great comments! If I may add to the chorus of "take care of yourself first" (so important), also don't expect too much from yourself. It's not going to be perfect. Ever. As a fellow over-achiever, I constantly have to remind myself that it is okay to be human. It is okay to fall short. The dishes will wait. I may just have to scrub a little harder...

Beth said...

I also have to echo the "being married and in school is tough" comments above. Don't put pressure on yourself to be Suzy Homemaker all the time. Ugh, NEVER put pressure on yourself to be Suzy Homemaker! Maybe you need to divide chores with a chart? Sounds lame but it helped us in the beginning--and we also learned that I don't mind dishes and bathroom duty while he hates doing both of those, so we get to do the chores we mind least!

Schoolwork should come first if that's where you want to be--career-wise and in your personal life. I found it impossible to give equal attention to my studies, my husband, work, and taking care of our tiny apartment.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

With your advice in tow, I have mostly recovered from everything. I spent last week cutting back on my typical duties and will do the same this week. I think this is the first week that I haven't felt completely overwhelmed by life and school and work in weeks. So thank you guys :) I take that back. I'm still coughing, weeks later. Growl.

@Beth We're discussing the chore thing. I really need to make it happen. Although, I asked Tuvia to clean the Poconos bathroom over the weekend and he didn't ... so ... that went well.

And don't forget to practice what you preach!

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