Low points on the feast of freedom

Last night I went to the 2nd Seder of  Passover (that’s Pesach to the initiated).It could have been the worst night I’ve spent anywhere in ages. It was so depressing that even the food did very little for me–oh, yes, it tasted good and it kept me alive, did it not? And for that alone I should be grateful. I guess I am…except:

…I was cold and improperly dressed. And…

…I was in so damned much neuropathic pain that I felt unable to stand it. And…

…I was almost at the end of two weeks of being an involuntary non-smoker, not from some la-di-da pursuit of health, but because I damn well could not afford to feed my tobacco addiction until the Social Security money hits the bank, and because…

…my neuropathy was eating me alive, and…

…people handing out free advice about pain management got just a bit old…and

the only person who got it without a translator (and who got me through the evening) was the rabbi, a gentle and inspiring lady who lately has had her own (forgive this dreadful word-play) Cross to bear. She described the punishment my body has received as a form of slavery, my very own and golden form of life in the House of Bondage. No shit. I told her something I have actually shared only with my two sons: my expectation that in all likelihood, I’m not going to get out of my seventies, and that someone will have to take my cat because he’s only 8, and is likely to survive me by quite a few years. It’s really amazing to discover what you think of first when you contemplate mortality.

I know some guys back in Jersey who belong to an AA meeting called “Drop The Rock,” and it has a very simple premise: Like most drunks, we excel at beating the fuck out of ourselves simply because we’re not perfect. Hey, wow. Imperfection. How about that?

That is all to say: I was simply so profoundly sad on Saturday night that the evening was mostly unbearable. Because…

…I also felt amazingly guilty about whining about my so-called “lot in life.” Piss and moan, piss and moan. Other people have some bad shit in their lives too. Sick children, sick parents in “end of life” situations, marital poison, money or lack of same. How many of them bitch, whine, and complain? I don’t know. I just wish more people did so. Yep, call me Debbie Downer. Last night it sure fit. I’m surprised the people who got me home didn’t try to kill me on the way.

I hope you never have to experience this for yourself–the sense of abandonment, of even God taking a rain check because you (me) are too depressing to even listen to. You reach the point where you make yourself sick.

Gratitude is very easily lost or allowed to slip away. About a year ago, some of my loyal and persistent readers may remember that I was awaiting a judgment from the Superior Court of New Jersey, a judgment I prayed would free me from lifetime alimony that had gone on for 18 years. The judgment did that. In fact, the judgment was dated April 13, 2015. Did I feel free? Not quite. I went insane for several weeks. I suffered from almost nightly vomiting, panic attacks and ambulance trips to the local emergency room. I had begun self-medicating. I didn’t know how to cope with winning. I didn’t know how to cope with my family. I didn’t know how to cope.

This seems to line up with the Festival of Freedom. Pesach. Passover. The celebration of our deliverance from a House of Bondage and into a world where we must now take full responsibility for our own lives. And that condition of freedom can be terrifying.

From the Christian scripture?… One of the Gospels tells of how Jesus cured a man who was born crippled, who had to lay on a mat in the street and beg. Yes, it was “a living,” but the cripple convinced himself that Jesus’ power could free him. Well, yes…but there was a problem. I personally need to wonder if the paralytic knew what he was asking. “Jesus, free me so I can work.” “Okay, my child, you’ve got it. Now what will you do?”

Indeed, what will the paralytic do now that he’s physically sound? Begging is off the table: the man can work. Does he have the inner equipment to be honest?

What did Kris Kristofferson say?–Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose? I suppose so. If we’re very fortunate and blessed, we find that voice inside us again.


About Ken Wolman

Sit still, shut up, and listen. We might both learn something.
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