“find the good”


Two and a half years ago, a Rabbi explained to me that, if I wished to be a Hassid, my goal was to “find the good” in every circumstance that life brought my way — not just in the birth of my sons and moments on a mountain or a beach, but even in the calculation of my taxes.

I laughed and told her that I didn’t really think that would be possible. Yet, somehow, I’ve never forgotten her message, and I’ve continued looking for “the good,” even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Last weekend, as I stood on a ten-foot ladder cleaning out gutters, the smell of the fermenting leaves activated a memory pathway in my brain, and I realized that rotting leaves smell strikingly similar to pig manure.  I wondered whether there might be a blog topic in the amazing way our neocortex attaches smells to memories or, better yet, in the way decomposing plant matter smells the same regardless the method of decomposition —

How’s that for a new twist on
“It’s All One!”???   🙂

I wasn’t sure I’d figure out a topic — after all, I told myself, either of those ideas might require some explanation about why this Jew spent days as a child shoveling manure out of a pig barn . . . but I decided that I’d take a picture just in case I wrote a post . . .

Why a picture? Because the week before, during lunch, a good friend joked with me: “I read your blog, but just for the pictures, so you should include more pictures.”  I was laughing about that conversation as I pulled out my phone to take a picture . . .

And, suddenly, there IT was . . . “the good”!! . . . I was standing on a ten-foot ladder putting my hands in wet leaves that smelled like pig manure and I was laughing at the infinite connections between my past and present; myself, the rabbi, and my friend; the leaves, the corn, the pigs, and the gutters. In that moment, I again could see so clearly that EVERYTHING is connected!!!

I’m still not consistently able to “find the good,” but I’ve come to understand that, for everyone, the goal is not as easy to accomplish as we might wish. Perhaps the point is that we just keep looking . . .

shavua tov, jen

ps. and for my dear friend who joked she just reads these posts for the pictures . . . for whom I am grateful because, by joking with me, she helped me remember not to take myself so seriously . . . here’s a picture of my clean gutter:






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