JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Everything Is Illuminated


I just finished reading this book, which a friend recommended a long time ago. I have been sitting here crying as I read it for the last 30 minutes and cried on the last plane ride reading it. It is so beautiful and poinient.

I really related to a lot of the things in the book - loss, the weight of the Holocaust and all of the unspoken memories that even us grandchildren carry.

Here's a quote (p198-9) :
JEWS HAVE SIX SENSES
Touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing...memory. While Gentiles experience and process the world thorugh the traditional senses, and use memory only as a second-order means of interpreting events, for Jews memory is no less primary than the prick of a pin, or its silver glimmer, or the taste of the blood it pulls from the finger. The Jew is pricked by a pin and remembers other pins. It is only by tracing the pinprick back to other pinpricks -when his mother tried to fix his sleeve while his arm was still in it, when his grandfather's fingers fell asleep from stroking his great-grandfather's damp forehead, when Abraham tested the knife point to be sure Isaac would feel no pain-that the Jew is able to know why it hurts.
When a Jew encounters a pin, he asks:
What does it remember like?

I really feel this tonight. As I feel the prick of the characters in the book (which are clearly autobiographical), I feel the prick of my ancestors, of my grandparents, and then I remember what it was like growing up in the Midwest surrounded by wealthy WASPS with the memory of the Holocaust. I remember the terror that I felt the night that I was raped and the betrayal that my country didn't believe me or care that it happened, at least as it is represented by the police. I sit on my couch and trace back all of these pin pricks, which I can only understand because of this book and of the prick of my mother losing her memory. My mother is losing herself. I am losing my mother. The world feels so chaotic that it is hard to not search desperately for the one thing that cannot be killed like my mother and our memory - to try to find love and latch on to it. Instead, I have to remember that the world is not chaotic, to lose the focus of the prick and to learn to focus instead on better things, on beautiful things....a spiritual practice like a Buddhist meditation, to be pricked and not lose my focus.

Anyway, I know that I'm not making any sense probably to anyone other than myself. I'm just tracing back my wounds as I prepare for the next round of whirlwind travel tomorrow. I'm being picked up at 7am. There will be no food served on my 6-7 hours in the air. But, it is only until next Friday, until Shabbat. And then I will have another beautiful night with A and preparations for KC and taking care of my mom some more. And I will try to not lose my focus.

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