Friday, September 21, 2007

Continuing Creation (B'reishit)

You know what's awesome? Food. Tonight, make sure you enjoy your last meal for a day. You know what else is awesome? Jumping the gun. Sweet Tea was so hype for our relaunch that he beat B'reishit to The Watering Hole by two weeks. Here's his Yom Kippur-themed D'var:

Ahh, creation. Never do I feel as accomplished as when I’m able to stand before something I’ve built out of nothing into something … remarkable. Actually, I’ve had a lot of moments these past few weeks: My father and I have been finishing the inside of our barn, putting up ceiling and insulation and such. Each day we walk away from it, a little bit more gets done, and it adds fiber to my life.

So if that’s how I feel doing some simple insulation, I can’t imagine how a human being would feel after creating the earth. I’ve been told by Rabbis that G-d’s capacity to handle emotion is much greater than ours, so He’d probably be able to handle it better than I (although I challenge anybody to feel more strongly about Carolina basketball than I do).

But through all the hammering and cutting, one word stuck to me like Gorilla Glue: commitment. In some things in the everyday, one doesn’t need to be committed. Great, so you caught the football game on Sunday. You could miss it the next week, and it would still go on, and you would still care as much about it as you did before. But in order for other things to happen, like building a barn, you can’t half-ass it. Or you spend two hours looking at a bunch of wood.

As I read the portion online this week (is nothing sacred?!), there is a sensitive deliberateness in the creation of Adam that illustrates this facet of commitment. It is written ... ahem …, “Ad-noy El-him then formed the man, dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the breath of life. And so man became a living soul.” What I like so much about this, is that Adam as an entity existed before he was alive. He was formed out of dust, but not alive until G-d literally breathed life into him. This wasn’t a simple act, but a two-parter: He had to build him and then bring him to life.

Whether you are or are not a Believer, this falls outside of that debate. The point being that in order to build the amazing things that you will in life, you can’t idly create them; you have to build on top of the foundation.

Now, there are many tomes written about the meaning of dust and air, but I want to connect to something else. For us as the new working order, we came from college - where often we would take classes that didn’t demand too much from us or hold positions that didn’t require much either. After graduation, most of us took entry-level jobs that didn’t challenge us much either. And that’s where most of us find ourselves right now - treading water, doing tasks most high school students could probably handle. What’s next?

Well, I was recently given this fantastic book by a friend, and it didn’t change my perception about this part of my life, but rather reinforced it. At first take, it appears to be a book about how some sob-story, middle-class kids couldn’t find their calling in college, and decided that instead of joining the real world, they would go on a road trip interviewing "success stories." The book pretty much becomes a collection of interviews, including the Founder of Dell, a shoe designer for Michael Jordan at Nike, the director of Boiler Room.

But regardless of the motives of the guys behind the Roadtrip adventure, it’s impossible not to be captivated by the stories of the people they interviewed. Many of them had no direct path, but they found something they enjoyed, and stayed committed to it, even on the brink of poverty, failure, and family pressure.

I think this story in the Torah is one of the most delicate and inspirational, especially during Yom Kippur. At what other time do we really sit back and muddle over our lives? Do we even do it during the holiday? It’s tough for sure. It takes enough just to wake up, get through the day, and then have enough energy for our friends after.

I do believe that most of us strive to build our own "Adams," our contribution to the notion of creation. But how many of us are really breathing like into our lives, and how many of us are just building hollow shells that have the appearance of livelihood, but no soul. It’s easy to check. Just ask a Magic 8-ball.

Pretty soon, some of us are going to wake up on a Saturday, and think, “Wow, I’m 40. Did I enjoy how I spent the past 20 years?” Well if you spent it having casual sex, then probably. For the rest of you poor married souls, pretty soon making tough choices like pursuing what we really want to do, and having the ability to follow it up with the commitment it will need to flourish will become even tougher.

Happy Holidays! If you are fasting, hope it’s easy. If not, Hooter’s has boneless chicken wings for $7.95.

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