This week we study Parashat Ha'azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-52).
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Luke Ford writes: I was telling my friends how I sold my beard to a family member for $444.
This beautiful young woman responded, “I wish I had something I could sell to make money.”
All the guys immediately cracked up because she didn’t have a clue what she was saying.
It reminds of female personal assistants who talk about “taking care of their client when he comes into town.” They don’t mean anything sexual, but that’s the way a guy’s mind reacts when he hears such stuff. “Oh, I’m taking care of John when he’s in town.”
Luke Ford writes: In my Protestant upbringing, we were taught to not push ourselves forward too obviously. Always appear reluctant to claim credit. Better to moan and groan about what a great sinner you are.
By contrast, I’ve noticed that Jews tend to feel pretty good about themselves. They’re eager to tell me about the things they’ve accomplished. They’re eager to tell me about their good deeds. How they’ve helped the rabbi. How they signed the lease for the shul. How they helped the rabbi raise money. How they did so much for Israel, for the homeless, for the community.
“Are Jews more obsessed with status?” a Protestant once asked me.
I don’t think so. I just think they’re more honest about pursuing status, honor, sex, money, love and the good things of life.
Judaism is more at peace with the natural passions than Christianity. It takes for granted that people want honor and respect and wealth and love and therefore provides ways to channel these desires into good ends.
I find Jews talk much more honestly about sex and money, for instance. They have fewer romantic notions about such basics of life.
Luke Ford writes: I’m humbled by how often my tendencies to bridle at authority interfere with my career success. I just don’t like being told what to do. It’s like I live my life in perpetual rebellion against anyone who reminds me of certain figures from my childhood.
I’m 45 and I’m still lashing out to my own detriment.
I get very humble at times and even grateful to the generosity of certain rabbis, certain teachers, certain authority figures who’ve guided me to a better life. Then my rebellious ways force them to set limits with me and I don’t deal well with these limits and I lash out and endanger these relationships.
“Nobody will tell me what to do!” That’s probably the most frequent thing I say to myself.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated student-teacher, parent-teacher conferences. I see again and again how my teachers only want to help me but I buck against their bridle. I hate that bit in my teeth. I want to race off and do my own thing, only I know that that direction leads to failure and humiliation.
So I’m going to take some deep breaths, try to let go a little bit of my instinctive rebellion, and listen more deeply to what my teachers tell me.
Luke Ford writes: I often find myself thinking, what’s behind me and what’s ahead of me? How frightened should I be about the future? How stoked should I get about the changes I’ve made in my life? Will the next half of my life be as lonely as the first half?
I find myself valuing safety, security and comfort more these days than I did 16 years ago.
I met Trey Parker (of South Park fame) at CES in Las Vegas in January 1999. We talked at the Rio bar 2 AM – 3:30 AM after the AVN Awards. He was cool. A total mentch. A good interview. Unpretentious. Funny. Insightful.
A decade ago, Trey, you said that you couldn’t point to anyone who sustained their creativity into their 30s or 40s. You’re about to turn 42.
Parker: I totally still think that. We’ve been writing “Book of Mormon” for seven years, and the best work on it was when we were still in our 30s.
Luke Ford writes: Most people respond to thinking they must accomplish a task quickly by shortening their stature, tensing and compressing their necks, taking shallower breaths, their heart racing, anxiety flying, and overall going into a version of the fight or flight reflex.
By contrast, when you think, “I have all the time I need to accomplish this task,” you will probably breathe easier and more deeply and be more likely to let go of unnecessary tension in your body.
Mead has her group pretend to juggle. This activates their primary control and they naturally come into length and width. You can’t juggle and be in a postural set. It won’t work. Their heads are moving because they have to look at the balls. They’re changing their balance and their relationship to gravity. They’re enlivened.
Later on, people ask, is this like yoga? People want to group it with something else. Alexander Technique can’t be compared with anything else. It is unique.