But I've also pondered what it means to be really free in this modern world.
As my travels have taken me to more places and allowed me to share my music with more communities, I have observed the way Jewish communal life plays out in these other places. I've taken some interesting cues from the clergy and other Jewish professionals I've been blessed to work with and to learn from. And all of this has led me to an interesting -- and surprising -- epiphany.
In my quest to grow more opportunities for Jewish work, I got anxious -- not only about my ability to earn a living, which, let's face it, is everyone's stress these days -- but about what I was supposed to aspire to, personally and professionally. So much of what seems to be the "reality" of what Jewish professionals "should" aspire to is, frankly, beyond me for a host of reasons. Recognizing the distance between my path and the prescribed path of "the typical Jewish professional" used to be a source of tension and worry. But one morning last week, I awoke from a very vivid dream with a smile on my face and in my heart. And all the tension about my career and life choices felt like it was falling away in that quiet morning moment.
As I turned and looked at the face of my partner, still asleep next to me, I knew that what I had experienced was a deep kind of truth and knowing. Not all possibilities would be open to me; but not all possibilities are open to any person. And amazingly, in my case, at least, that may actually be okay.
We are each the result of a unique combination of environment, upbringing, personality and the choices we make for ourselves. If I were to cobble together my livelihood as a freelancer for the indefinite future and fill in shifts at a local bike shop in the interim periods, who's to say that's such a bad thing? Considering what other sorts of work is out there that I am qualified to do, things could be a lot worse, and frankly I have it a whole lot better than many in similar circumstances. In fact, I have it pretty damned good these days. The dream served to remind me of that, I suppose; and also to allow me to let others' expectations fall from my shoulders. I felt a sweet moment of the deepest freedom on that morning, and as I watched the sunrise through the window I felt incredibly lightened, blessed with a sense of calm that helped the tension of the last several months to fade into the background and to leave me feeling remarkably still and peaceful.
I am feeling full of gratitude for the simple things in my life -- the joy of family and friends; the pleasure of good health that allows me to ride my bicycle all over town, walk through the park with my Sweetie and do odd jobs around the house; the gift of music that allows me to write songs for both myself and others and to be of use in the world; the dexterity that allows me to fix things and make art; and a mind that allows me to look around and see what needs improving in the world. Because it's not enough to know we are free; we have to do the work to bring that freedom to others. In my ability to create blessing for others, I end up being blessed. Which is an amazing, beautiful thing.
It's Passover. I am filled with a mindfulness of gratitude for all that my life and God and the universe have given me. It's not much on a grand material scale, but it's priceless and I am grateful for having arrived at a space where I can really appreciate that. May this season of freedom bring you similar experiences of calm, love, hopefulness, gratitude and peace.
Chag Pesach Sameach -- a joyous Pesach!