In Germany, 1902, Theodor Herzl published his novel Altneuland, the Old New Land. On the front cover was inscribed the phrase: “Wenn ihr wollt, ist es kein Märchen” — unprofessionaly translated as: “If you wish it, it is not a fairy tale.” I grew up with this saying and have always believed it, just as I have always loved and trusted Walt Disney’s version: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And yet I am eternally amazed whenever I finish a project or succeed in an enterprise that I set out to do. How’s that for self belief?
|Me, crying on Mt. Rainier|
Four years ago, the sun rose as I marched up the last stretch of steep terrain to the crater on Mount Rainier. I plodded along, like a sheep following her herd on the narrow path, with one thought careening in my head: “I finally have an achievement in life.” At 14,220 or so feet, the tears choking my throat did not help my lungs’ desperate attempts to get enough oxygen into my blood. I stumbled. I wanted to sit down. Instead, I followed everyone else around the crater and up the little summit rocks where I stood, tears running down my red nose, as the guide took my picture holding up my ice ax (yes, my own ice ax!) up to the sky in a weak gesture of “I’m finally here!”
Four years later my list of successes has grown in reverse proportion to my list of failures and unfinished projects. My belief in “If you can dream it you can do it” has remained the same: a slightly hypocritical piece of advice that I can give to others in a display of “Do as I say and not as I do.” I believe it, but I won’t try to check if it can come true.
But hey, this is a little corner of joy, not a little puddle of pity wallowing. And I do, in fact, have a point with my sad sob story. And it is not going to be a moralistic point, but very very wise. Here goes:
I enjoy the little things in life much more than my big, life-shaking achievements. Making the memory books in kindergarten. I loved that. A short, half mile hike at Coe with the children, the ranger’s wife, and my mother and father in which we saw hundreds of wildflowers. I loved that. My son standing straight with the violin under one arm, listening to the teacher. My daughter’s sweet-smelling breath on my cheek as she hugs me. The smell of morning outside when I wake up. The spaghetti and mushroom sauce Dar made for us on our last camping trip. Hearing my friend Ronit’s melodious voice on the phone this morning. Illustrating the Siddur Program for the school. A hug. A kiss.
Little moments of life, seemingly fleeting, giving everlasting joy.
What about you? What moments of joy do you remember?