The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reaching his.
He opened his arms as if expecting an incoming package. And for the first time in my life, I did the opposite of running away.
I gave him a hug.
It was a fast one. Clumsy. But I felt the sharp bones in his back and his whiskered cheek against mine. And in that brief embrace, it was as if a larger-than-life Man of God was shrinking down to human size.
But the Reb, I’d learned, was like a tough old tree; he bent with the storms but he would not snap.
“When you come to the end, that’s where God begins.”
The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.
Most religions warn against war, yet more wars have been fought over religion than perhaps anything else. Christians have killed Jews, Jews have killed Muslims, Muslims have killed Hindus, Hindus have killed Buddhists, Catholics have killed Protestants, Orthodox have killed pagans, and you could run that list backward and sideways and it would still be true. War never stops; it only pauses.
Happiness in a tablet. This is our world. Prozac. Paxil. Xanax.
And the longer I went at it, the emptier I began to feel, like pumping air faster and faster into a torn tire.
He was like a kid when it came to possessions; price tags meant nothing, small enjoyment meant everything.
“Getting old, we can deal with. Being old is the problem.”
What do you do when death’s pecking order puts you in the front of the line, when you no longer can hide behind “It’s not my turn”?
The second death. The unvisited in nursing homes. The homeless found frozen in alleys. Who mourned their passing? Who marked their time on earth?
How many generations does it take, even in close-knit families, for the fabric to unravel?
He also, on occasion, told the joke about a man who complains to his doctor that his wife, when angry, gets historical.
“You mean hysterical,” the doctor says.
“No, historical,” the man says. “She lists the history of every wrong thing I’ve ever done!”
“You knew me. You knew that person, but you don’t know the person that I’m trying to become.”
If you could pack for heaven, this was how you’d do it, touching everything, taking nothing.
“Nothing haunts like the things we don’t say.”