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Posts tagged ‘God’

Happiness is My Choice, 12

Expanded, ballooned, swelled—that’s how my heart behaved when I heard the announcement. Increased, surged, rose—that’s how my joy reacted upon learning the news.

One of my oldest friend’s oldest daughter just got married! I held this child when she was four hours old and now she and her beloved stood under the chuppah/marriage canopy as her parents did before her. I danced and hugged. My heart was full.

Other friends just became grandparents! The first grandchild, a girl, was born to their firstborn whose wedding I was privileged to attend last year. I delighted in the family’s joy at the wedding and blessed the new couple for a long, happy married life. Their well-being became my heart’s desire, their future as precious as that of my own children. Now the joy continues.

So why am I so happy some might wonder. Others might be jealous, blasé, or worse, bitter. I am grateful to have a heart that sings when others encounter happy tidings. Why not be happy for my friends? Their fortune, their gains, the fruition of their dreams does not detract from anything that is due to me. I am not losing anything or threatened.

Quite the contrary. The Creator wants us to be happy so He gives us opportunities to be happy. We need to recognize these opportunities and grab them with gusto! When we are happy with our own lot, the world looks brighter and everyone else’s good fortune rains upon us as well.

Ben Zoma says:
Who is rich?
The one who is appreciates what he has…
(Talmud—Avot 4:1)

Don’t I deserve happiness? Of course I do! That is the way Man is meant to live. Hashem gives me all I need; my needs will always be met. I know that everything coming to me will be provided… but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. My wants are not always in concordance with my needs. I need shelter, clothing, nourishment, health. I have all that. Maybe I also want that vacation trip, a newer car,  relief from bills, and the ability to eat anything I want when I want without consequences. (The former three are within the realm of the possible and the latter is a pipe dream for sure!)

So how do I stand it—no, bask in it—when others around me “get” something and I don’t? Reframe the situation.

Others receive no gifts that are being withheld from me. Others get what they deserve. For whatever reason, I am not destined at this moment to receive that same gift. That doesn’t mean I will never have the new car or the means to go on vacation. I understand that if I do what I need to do in this world to be a kind, moral, and righteous person, I will be showered from Above with all that is coming to me.

Sharing joy in the blessings my friends experience enlivens me and wraps me in the surety that there is a Presence for Good in the universe. It binds me to my people. It creates good will. Sharing someone else’s happiness grows and grows. When we can view the world with eyes focused on the bounty available to us, we can only increase our own happiness and satisfaction with our lives.

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Andromeda

We, humankind, are insignificant specks in the universe. Yet, we matter.

“NASA released the largest picture ever taken earlier this month, with a staggering 1.5 billion pixels, of the Andromeda Galaxy.”1

The images received from the Hubble Space Telescope, deployed in 1990, have rewritten scientific theories about the universe. This video from USA Today highlights the engineering and magnificence of the findings. (I can’t embed the video’s preview so you must click on the link. It’s worth seeing.)

G-d’s creation cannot be entirely captured by the most powerful telescopes. Indeed, these recently released images from NASA only hint at the complexity of detail yet to be uncovered. Still, we only need look up to see that there is something more than us. Even in the city, with electric lights obscuring the heavens, the light of a few stars reaches us down here. Tiny, insignificant, distant novelties we may think, but they hint at the hidden wonders beyond our view.

As a young woman I sat in a rural Connecticut field with a telescope one clear autumn night. The closest town was about 10 miles away yet it cast a subtle glow on the horizon. Still, it was one of the blackest skies I’d ever seen, studded with stars not even imagined in the city. We pulled sleeping bags around us in the increasingly frosty air as the telescope was trained on the moon. Its surface leaped into sharp relief revealing details I’d only seen in photographs. Luminous, and seemingly as close as if I could reach out and touch it, the moon moved imperceptibly and the telescope needed subtle readjustments.

Then the telescope was trained on the planets. Jumping Jupiter! We could see the largest planet and four of its moons! Astonished, I tried to view this as long as possible and only reluctantly allowed my partners to share the sight. This memory and the feeling of being enveloped by that dark night, with the sky as a cloak around my shoulders, stay with me. The wonder and excitement, the feeling of vastness, never faded with the sunrise and reside with me yet.

The scientist in me adds facts: Jupiter is roughly 5 astronomical units2 from Earth (approximately 465 million miles/750 million kilometers). If the sun’s light takes about 8 minutes to reach Earth, the light reflected from Jupiter back to Earth takes about 40 minutes. When we look at the Moon, Jupiter or any star, we’re looking into the past. Indeed, all of the visible lights in the sky, the Moon, all the galaxies, stars, and planets, are represent light from the past. It takes light time to reach us, and by the time we process it, the events are over. That is true for even for things that happen closer to us, like looking at a face of the person next to you; the light is delayed by infinitesimal fractions of microseconds from close objects to our eyes. At this scale the age of the light we see becomes meaningless when compared against the distances in the universe.

The poet in me contemplates splendor: Meaningless. Negligible. Inconsequential. How small is man compared to the heavens. How trivial his concerns against the workings of the cosmos. How true that seems on face value, except…

…we matter. Shakespeare said it well:3

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? — Hamlet

We are not insignificant amongst all the billions and trillions of stars in the sky. What we do, how we act, what we bring into the world has consequences. We mold the universe around us—the only important one—the one of the human experience. Our attitudes, activities, beliefs all go into partnering with the Creator. Each one of us is a galaxy by himself, full of hopes, dreams, feelings, experiences, knowledge, and passion.

Remember where we came from, whether looking outward or inward. We matter.

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If you want to see more of the Hubble Space Telescope’s images, check out this YouTube video.

 

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1. USA Today online, http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/01/20/nasa-largest-picture-andromeda-galaxy/22052513/, accessed January 21, 2015.
2. 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) is approximately 93 million miles (150 million km), the average distance of the earth from the sun.
3. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark (2, 2).

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