Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dizzy Dance (Vayetzei)

As the season of (selfless?) giving approaches, I begin to silhouette - as I do every year- my wants against my needs. I am sure that I’m not the only 20-something who has been spending the last 2 1/2 years in a perpetual state of transition and uncertainty, ultimately inducing a sense of powerlessness at the cruel "real world" that was much more glamorous on MTV. I’d be lying if I didn’t seethe with more than a tinge of jealousy upon reading God’s lifetime guarantee to Jacob in this week's Parsha, Vayetzei. For 18 years or so, I was used to someone ushering me across a stage and getting a rolled up piece of paper, marking one transition after another, until I reached the finish line in my bright purple cap and gown, before finding myself teetering on the edge of the Sidewalk in Shel Silverstein's imagination. Wake-up call after wake-up call, I’m slowly learning what it means to be an adult, without any of the cushy certainty that Jacob was afforded in this portion.

Like many youngins, I used to entertain myself on especially slow recess days by spinning around in circles in the schoolyard until I fell down. Doing what I called "The Dizzy Dance." While the nausea billowed up inside me, I still spun around with that reckless childhood abandon that comes only with the sense of invincibility and the guaranteed carton of milk and nap after lunch. And now, years later, it’s admittedly a exciting to have this world teeming full of possibility and change, but I often feel like I’m in a perpetual state of dizzily dancing, without a place to land. Unlike Jacob, who, amidst a journey of uncertainty, finds great solace and the drive to move forward when he realizes his bright future, and the guarantee of comfort and land. Some days I wake up afraid of how possible my future is, almost debilitated by it. If someone were to hold up even a vague image of continuity and certainty, I think I would have a different type of resolve - like Jacob’s- to act self-assured and stable in my decisions and life choices.

This brings me to my current state of affairs - I recently had to transition between jobs, overcome by opportunities to do service projects, either in my current city of residence or while traveling throughout the US. Each of which - a "big girl" job and a 10-month road trip - were never a part of the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” discourse that graced oh-so-many grammar school bulletin boards. Among pictures of veterinarians helping sick puppies and doctors taking temperatures, children are never taught to aspire toward finding self-satisfaction in unpredictability. I made my decision to start a new job - one that’s unconventional, and solely focused on a controversial cause. I’ll never know if giving up the cross-country trip was ultimately the right decision, and I can’t very well lay my head on a rock and suddenly feel comfortable knowing my future the way Jacob does. Instead, I find myself making decisions with the line between want and need blurred, and the image of my future submerged in a fog of risks.

That said, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The upheaval of making myself dizzy is pretty self-destructive, but I guess always wanted to be the sole source of my undoing and personal evaluation. And that type of resolve, my friends, is the better than any gift God can dream up for you.

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