"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cholom Ra*

I had a bad dream, a חלום רע — cholom ra.

Its total duration seemed to have been a week though in reality probably no more than an hour. It lingered longer, however, following me into the daytime, challenging my reality, and painting my blue sky gray.

Dreams, in Jewish tradition, oppose the modern theory that dreams have no inherent meaning on their own. Contemporary research posits that neurological structures in the brain become activated while we are asleep and assess, process, and encode the day’s activities somehow. In contrast, dreams were thought to confer the power of prophecy on the dreamer in bygone days. The Talmud states that “dreams are one-sixtieth of prophecy,” while averring that dreams contain nonsense, and interpretations are up to the interpreter.

Pharaoh’s Dream of Seven Cows” © Sue Bentley/FreeBibleImages.org, CC BY-SA 3.0

In the Torah we read of Joseph’s dreams in the house of Pharaoh and their interpretation. In the first dream, he described his brothers’ wheat sheaves bowing his own upright sheaf. Further, he dreamed the sun, moon, and eleven stars, representing his parents and brothers, bowing to him. The brothers pejoratively call him a dreamer and conspire to throw him in a pit, sell him to traveling Ishmaelites, and end with Joseph being sold to Potifar in Egypt. Joseph was imprisoned, and while there, interprets two dreams for which events passed as he said. Then the Pharaoh had the dream of the seven emaciated cows consuming the seven fat cows which none of the magicians in Egypt could explain. Pharaoh gave Joseph a chance, and his interpretation so pleased Pharaoh, that Joseph became the chief minister in Egypt. Events came to pass as Joseph foresaw (Genesis 37-41) and the Israelites flourished.

Likewise, the Book of Daniel relates Daniel’s parallel elevation in status after his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams.

Many other cultures have traditions of interpreting dreams. The Babylonians discuss dreams and perform dream rituals in The Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2100 BC). Through ancient times, escalating with Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, to the modern Dream Interpretation Dictionary online, people want to know the meaning of these nocturnal visions.

Me, too.

Image: Laurence Horton via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I love to sleep, largely I suspect, because of my dreams. They defy Hollywood‘s brilliance. My dreams are in Technicolor. Sight, sound, smell, and texture surround me. Strangely, however, I see myself from the vantage point of an observer. I am the star of my own movie.  The dreams are bigger than life and often better than life. I can fly. I have power not experienced in the real. My dreams thrill and intrigue me. Sometimes, like on that night however, they are bad.

The morning of this bad dream, I awoke with the foreboding of terrible outcome. Someone dear to me would 1) lose her life, or 2) his fortune, or 3) their mutual respect and love. I’m not going to say which one it was, but you get the idea. I stood by watching myself in my dream, helpless to change an outcome. I didn’t stay asleep to see the actual thing happen; I awoke shaking, sweaty, desiring coffee.

Lucid Dream” by Wolf94114 , used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Although I’m not a lucid dreamer, I would like to become one: confronting bogeymen, kissing handsome princes, and filling my arms with treasures. Other times I would want to be a benevolent teacher, directing others in my dreams to learn from me, instructing them in life skills that avoid evil and promulgate good. I’ve wanted this ability since childhood but don’t know how to cultivate it. One more item for the bucket list.

Ritual prayers exist to avert ill effects from bad dreams, like the paragraphs said under our breaths during the Priestly Blessing (birkat Kohanim). But mostly, we  Jews have a tradition: to learn the true meaning of dreams, we must be on a very high spiritual level. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

May we all be blessed with only beautiful dreams, and banish the bad dreams forever.

 

Appreciating Babble

The grass bends due to  the unseen wind-a natural force we live with but give no thought to

The grass bends due to the unseen wind-a natural force we live with but give no thought to.

The din of background voices here at the Motor Vehicles Administration competes with tinny, piped-in music. Elton John vies with impatient motorists waiting for licenses, exams or registrations, bored children, and a cacophony of mixed languages. Ironically, the crowd would likely relate more to hip hop or urban music, not the current Billy Joel selection from the 1970s. 

I entered the building and confronted a snaking line to the gatekeepers. Having been at MVA before, I knew to bring a well-charged device or reading material. After 30 minutes in line, I reached the counter. The screener, assured I brought the right documents, handed me a slip of paper with a letter and number: G-109. 

Half of the people stare at wall-mounted TV screens which displays which window will serve you when your number is called. The other half gaze at devices in their palms. No one reads. The murmurs swell, a wash of sound. People talk to each other while looking at screens.

 G-93 appeared on the screen, followed by V-521 and J-48.  I have no one to talk to. I feel the sound pooling around me, a palpable presence. An announcement at 4:28 warns people about closing time.  If someone goes outside and his number is called, he will not be allowed back in the building.  Only two minutes of warning, I think?

G-98. J-51. B-765. Is the place emptying any? It seems just as loud, just as full.

Background noise floods us constantly but we don’t notice. We plug in with ear buds to music, podcasts, and radio, but we tune out as much as we tune in. Noise is a force like the wind, unseen but having an effect. 

G-104 has me seated on edge of my seat, jiggling my foot. It’s nearing 5 pm and there’s still an appreciable crowd. Maybe it is quieter; that child who was nattering left. The man behind me holds G-114 I confirmed. We mutter mutual assurances. J-53 approaches window 30. 

Broken Elections

Don't vote for a clown.

Don’t vote for a clown. – (cc) by-nc-nd 2.0

 

I’m sick and tired of the Presidential elections… and it’s only June!  Election fever gripped the nation over a year ago as candidates tested the waters—way too early from my perspective—and it won’t be over until January, when the king or queen will be crowned. Enough? I think so.

From the earliest caucuses held in February 2016 through the latest ones this past Tuesday, candidates have been on the road and dropping out as their chances for nominations dwindle. The end result? The presumptive nominees were declared before the people of California, the most highly populated state in the nation, cast their votes.  If I lived there I’d be livid.

According to the Associated Press, Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton have each won enough delegates to claim their party’s nomination for president. Delegate totals include unpledged delegates, also known as superdelegates, who are free to support any candidate at the party conventions.*

Representative government? I say not! First of all, we are voting for delegates to a party convention, not the candidates themselves. The efficacy and relevance of the electoral college has been discussed by minds greater than my own… but to the uninitiated (namely me), this seems to be an odd way to elect a president. Does my vote count? Apparently if I lived in Iowa or New Hampshire it would. How sad for the voters in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota who voted dead last—even after Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which are not states!

And the waste! Who is minding the store when candidates who are already elected officials to other offices travel and campaign? Self-congratulatory conventions… maybe bread and circuses? What about all the money spent on balloons and confetti? Spend it on the policies you guys champion: funding the poor, beef up education. Not to disparage the party planners and balloon companies, but I don’t see a reason for the hullabaloo.

Why do the Congress and Senate races merit direct representation but the nation’s leader does not? It is not the leader who does the daily business of the country. It is the bureaucrats, grudges, and interns working in the offices of the smaller elected officials who smooth our way to running the country. The president is a figurehead. He (or she) is someone you can point your finger at when something goes wrong. He/she is the person who keep the (conservative) Rush Limbaughs employed and barking about their nemeses’ evils. (Sorry, I can’t think of a liberal talk radio personality to balance Rush who has the same market penetration and impact.)

I wish November were here already. I’ll  have to turn off my radio and stay away from all media until then… or I can think of many things more interesting and pertinent than politics regardless of who runs the race.

Close the zoo. Sweep up the glitter. Bring the clowns home. Silence the gasbags. Enough is enough. We need election reform, a single primary day, a shorter season, and less foofaraw. Return the airwaves to reality television and leave me alone!

 

Visiting Day

Catskill Mountains Sign

The deep ravines, irregular ridges and rocky slopes of the Catskill Mountains long remained wild and desolate. …The mountains have long been famous as a resort area. In 1885, the State established the Forest Preserve to safeguard forever the natural resources.
Water from mountain streams stored in great reservoirs–Ashokan, Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton and Roundout–is conveyed by aqueducts and tunnels to supply New York City.

I’m heading up Route 17 for a ritual called Visiting Day. This occurs twice each summer when parents/friends/family visit their children who are ensconced in summer camps nestled in the verdant, cool hills of the Catskills. In my case, I’m not visiting a camper. My son is a counselor at Camp HASC, “a unique summer program which provides over 300 children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to enjoy an unforgettable camp experience.” It’s a wonderful place, a caring place, with a close to 1:1 ratio of staff to campers.

Visiting a camper, for the child, reconnects him/her to home. The parent brings treats, sees the facilities, gets a good feeling and the child knows Daddy and Mommy love him/her. You go home, and the child returns home in two weeks. I drove 12 hours round trip in one day to visit my sons at camp in the Poconos when they were young.I needed the visit, they welcomed it, too. I also visited my sons when they worked at a typical summer camp. Nice, great to see them, now goodbye.

Visiting a my son the counselor at Camp HASC brings up other emotions: this is where my child works, here are the people he helps, this is the kind of life he is building. It takes a special kind of person to give of yourself so deeply, to care so deeply, to work so hard for the good of others.

I’m looking forward to this Visiting Day. Soon I’ll be at camp!

*********

Photo credit: “NY – New Baltimore: Catskill Mountains” by Wally Gobetz, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

More multi-continental

Readers, December 2014

Readers of this blog in the first month, December 2014

 

On my blog post “Multi-continental!” dated March 7,  I  crowed, “Yesterday I got my first reader from another continent: Australia!”

Well, I was wrong. I just hadn’t known how to look up those things and missed the obvious: in my first month, readers from ISRAEL and GERMANY were my first “multi-continental” readers.

What do you know?

 

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: