A Sort-of-New Year’s Resolution

This is NOT me!

This is NOT me!

I have hooded eyes. Lots of people do. Perhaps you who are reading this are doing so with your own hooded eyes. I only know about them, though, because my grandmother had them.

Not only do we share hooded eyes, my grandmother and I, I’m also named after HER grandmother, my great-grandmother, Esther Leah. So? What difference does this make in my life?

Well, for one thing, it’s why I’m calm about living to a great age. My grandmother lived to be 96 years old, almost all of those years until the last three being in excellent health. And because we share hooded eyes and Esther Leah as an ancestress, I’ve always identified with my grandmother. She was very small, and so am I, which I definitely don’t like. But my grandmother seemed calm and inperturbable about everything, including her height, so she’s become my role model. From generation to generation, as the phrase goes —

The Hebrew for “from generation to generation”  is l’dor v’dor“. It’s used in the prayer book, and especially in the liturgy for the Passover seder, over and over again. My hooded eyes certainly reached me l’dor v’dor.

There’s another unlovely trait I’ll only admit to because at last, with great age, it’s greatly diminished. That is, having a jealous nature. It used to torment me, because I felt twisted with jealousy while at the same time condemning it with my whole heart. Then one day I heard a spiritual woman give a talk about, I forget now what it was — but at one point she said, You’re not responsible for the things that you feel. You’re only responsible for what you do about them. And then I actually heard her say, Let’s say you have a jealous nature! So? Maybe you inherited it from your grandmother —

I didn’t hear anything else she said. I was totally astonished by this new idea. Maybe my jealousy wasn’t my own idea. Maybe I didn’t choose it. Maybe it was chosen for me in the genetic grab bag of life. I wasn’t guilty of jealousy. All I had to worry about was what I chose to do about my jealousy; that definitely was my choice.

Now I’m certainly not saying my actual little grandmother was a jealous person. I never saw anything like that in her, nor did I ever hear anything like that about her. But like everyone else, I have lots of ancestors. Maybe Esther Leah was a jealous person! She was certainly vain and imperious — but I digress.

This IS me!

This IS me!

What I heard so clearly that day was the promise that, although L’dor v’dor operates powerfully, it isn’t necessarily inescapable. The chain from generation to generation perhaps can be broken, by awareness, by clarity, by seeing what’s actually going on. Hooded or not, my eyes are my own, my own responsibility to keep wide open. I can choose to cherish what’s valuable in my inheritance, and to renounce what is not.  And perhaps even to determine what I will pass on in my turn, l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Enlightenment, Etcetera, Evolution, Freedom, Personal Essay, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to A Sort-of-New Year’s Resolution

  1. rebekajo says:

    Very interesting reading. This is so important on many levels, and good for you that you happened to be listening to that woman. In many cases something can be done … not only about jealousy. Take booze, for example. If a boozer finds out that his or her father and grandfather were boozers too … or believes in some myth about Irish genes, or whatever, he or she will choose to believe in the theory that it’s ‘an inherited disease’ [which may or may not be true]. Subsequently sit back, relax and drink themselves to death. Quite often we DO have a choice and once we’ve been made aware of that, things seem to clear up 🙂

    Esther Leah are beautiful names! My first cat’s name was Hadassah, which is Esther too in a way. Nice to see your picture. You look exactly as I’ve visualized you in my mind the whole time!

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      It was one of those seminal remarks that drop into one’s life from time to time, and really cause change. We don’t get to choose the cards, but we do get to choose how to play them — well, that’s a commonplace. In this context it was a lot more powerful.
      I always liked Esther as a name, I figured Purim was my holiday and hey, what could be better than being a queen AND a heroine! Leah didn’t do much for me, though. Just second fiddle to Rachel, her sister, oh well. One out of two ain’t bad. You’re right that Hadassah is Esther in a way. I guess Hadassah never met Macduff though. 😉

      Like

  2. This post sent chills up my spine. I love moments like that, when suddenly your heart just gets it. Quantum Physics is teaching us more and more that we are not at the mercy of the genes we inherited and that our thinking, our choices, our beliefs, actually change our DNA. How wonderful to know. I love that you posted a picture. I know what your heart looks like, from following your blog and from comments you’ve left on mine, now I know what your face looks like too. 🙂

    Like

  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    You have a lovely open friendly face, and this is lovely intimate writing.

    Like

  4. mybrightlife says:

    Like CCJ, I am also fascinated at how it seems possible to re-write who we are. I suspect more challenging for some than others and certainly not a simple concept – but in many cases, do-able. I also find wisdom to be one of the many beautiful gains of age but how difficult for us when we are young to accept that older people may actually know more! Love getting to know you a bit better!

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      How I feel about you through your blog, and Joss through hers — and all of the many vivid personalities in the blogosphere. We all have so much to offer each other. Variety is more than the spice of life, it’s the strength and sinew.

      Like

  5. This is a very powerful post – not just in your initial realization but in the acceptance that you CAN make change. With awareness and a willingness to move beyond what other generations have passed down, we can stand on our own and choose our own.

    (Does this mean we get to see your beautiful face more often?)

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      This kind of attitude toward change requires a kind of bravery, even stubbornness, every step of the way. We can all help each other with that, I think/hope/know.
      (P.S. No, it does not!!!!!!!)

      Like

  6. Patti Kuche says:

    I was always puzzled when, as a child, I heard parents and relatives carving up the different personality traits of us children as belonging to this or that person, from pious saints to abominable sinners! But where is the “me” in all this I often wondered. It all seemed so restrictive and preordained . .. .

    Esther Leah are such pretty names, Judith! (?)

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Your point is well taken, Patti. It’s a complex one, though. There’s no question that often personality traits do seem to be handed down in the DNA. This child is stubborn like — that one is shy like — that one’s aggressive —
      In a real sense none of us are born “unrestricted.” There is no tabula rasa. No mistake about it. My jealousy was a very real thing, a key item in my personality. But are those traits our inescapable fate? That’s where the crux is. I give my answer here, and the answer is No.
      But children can’t deal with such subtlety. They tend to take what’s given. So being “assigned” or “fated” to positive traits was probably good for a kid; the negative assignments probably bad. But all of it would be read as ineluctable, preordained. Monumental task in growing up, then: becoming aware, then capable, of choice.

      (Esther Leah is my Hebrew name. Kind of like a baptismal name although not exactly. My “American” name is Judith Elaine. There’s the Esther for you, I think Judy Garland was responsible for the Judith. I answer to Judith or Judy, and know at which stage of my life I met you by which one you call me ;-)).

      Like

  7. Claudia Shuster says:

    What a powerful idea; that feelings are part of our genetic inheritance (elements of our personality); but under our control in what we do with them! I will indeed consider this further!! Fascinating concept!!

    And so nice to see your smiling face – missed you at the concert!

    Like

  8. april says:

    Thanks Aunt Judy. For more than you understand.

    Like

  9. pauline says:

    A powerful thought, that you weren’t GUILTY of jealousy… most of us have grown up believing ourselves guilty of who or what we are, especially when it does not conform to what others think we should be. To discover differently, to have the emphasis put on the choosing of what to do with our feelings rather than predetermination, gives us a new way of looking at ourselves and everyone else. Thunderbolt thoughts – if only we had more of them!

    That said, I have a hard time imagining you as the jealous sort. The Judith I know is giving and generous and sees things so clearly. Of whom and what were you jealous? What was it you wanted for yourself so desperately that you thought you did not have?

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      I love having you call them “thunderbolt thoughts.” I didn’t quite get to phrasing that — and it’s both strong and descriptive.
      As to the “whats” of it, I guess it really is a long time ago, because it’s so faded away now. Not very many jealous desires survive to 78, I can tell you that.
      I do remember one thing I always wanted, though: fame. That “bubble, reputation”, as Shakespeare puts it.
      To be always insufficient without the notice and regard and approbation of others — is pitiful. And painful.
      Now I think I have compassion for that raw younger self. I hope so!

      Like

      • pauline says:

        Thing is, I doubt we are, any of us, forever without the “notice, regard, and approbation” of others. We just don’t believe it when we hear it. And finally we come to realize that it isn’t needed beyond helping us to recognize our own worth. If we’re lucky, that comes early in life. If not, then yes, the road to self realization can be painful indeed. It’s why I grow fonder every year of hindsight and try to develop it into foresight whenever possible 😉

        Like

  10. Gemma says:

    I won’t get into what I’ve inherited. I could fill volumes, dear. VOLUMES! And some of it ain’t pretty. Or is it? That speaker was right. It IS what you do with it, how you handle it, how you look at it. THAT can be the hard part. But it makes all the difference. You look lovely. A very dear friend once told me she didn’t notice that I was overweight because she sees me with her heart, not her eyes. We should look at ourselves with love. You get that. 😉

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      “We should look at ourselves with love.”
      You said it, you know it, Gemma!
      What I’ve noticed about you on your blog is that you’re a gorgeous blonde!
      (And tall, I think — which is something, if I were back in jealous mode, I might turn a teeny bit green over!)

      Like

  11. Touch2Touch says:

    Karin Jansky, suffering because of some kind of quarrel between Blogger and WordPress, sent along her comment by private email:
    Hooded eyes??? Oh Judith, I have them as well and hated them throughout my whole life! They get even worse now “by the day”. Inherited from mother and grandmother! But as things stand at the moment I’m rather content as long as I don’t discover too many other physical inheritances (: – –
    Jealousy? No, not really, just too exhausting and a waste of energy. But I have to admit that I can be envious.
    It is interesting to realize what we inherit….and what not!
    My grandmother used to say that she likes the evenings, in her words when she already reached the age of 92: “there is nothing really special going on in the morning, life is much more interesting in the evening”! So, I’m a kind of evening person while my mother was a real morning person!
    My mother was a patient person – I’m somewhat impatient.

    All members of my family are rather small, except my brother and me, we are the only tall ones, having our Great Grandfather’s “Statur”/body size.
    All the woman of my family survived their husbands.
    Here we are…..
    Your post brings me back to my family history, brings back all good memories and happy moments we had together. Thank you for this, Judith!
    Now, I’ll going into myself to ‘dig up’ all the positive inheritances!

    Like

  12. What wisdom you have offered to us: “…choose to cherish what’s valuable in my inheritance, and to renounce what is not”. It is such a terrific message. I hope I not only remember this, but find a successful way to apply it to my future family line. Thank you so beautifully teaching me another life lesson.

    Like

I love comments! Thanks for coming by and visiting ---

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s