Tag Archives: change

On anger

The Promised Land, and its malcontents.
In the story of Moses, the aging Moses needs water for his people. Jehovah tells Moses to speak to a rock, but Moses strikes the rock twice. Jehovah lets the water flow, so the Jews can drink, but the cost is that Moses can’t enter the Promised Land.
This story is a clich√© now, but I think we use it wrongly. It’s not about authority punishing misbehavior, but about the failure to change.
When the Jews are enslaved, anger and rebellion free them, at a horrible cost. One wonders if Jehovah, who created the Egyptians too, actually chose the angel of death. Maybe Jehovah just let Moses into the divine armory, to choose whatever weapon he thought best – and at the time, “by any means necessary” was enough justification for Jehovah to accept his choice.
Forty years later, not so much. For the independent Jewish people, forced by their years in the wilderness to survive on their own, now ready to build a new land, rebellion risks their new social order. Moses’s anger and rebellion have no place here. They are no longer liberating, only destructive, for there is no longer an other to escape, to destroy.¬†This is not to say that the Jews will never need rebellion, but as the story of David later shows, it will never again be an unalloyed good.
I am an angry person. Continue reading

Notes on bad posture (symbol much)

I have a bad stance. I stand, walk and sleep with my feet pointed out. It’s always bothered me, but only mentally. I suspect it’s why I’ve never been much of a runner. It never hurt, however, nor derailed my skiing and skating. I thus never got serious about stretching the tight butt muscles that cause this splaying.
Now in my advancing years, I walk night hallways to soothe my infant son. My knees click. They click less if I point my toes straight. I can force that to happen, but for it to be natural I have a lot of stretching ahead of me, both in discrete sessions and in changing my postures of habit (goodbye cross-legged sitting).
The other day my dad came to visit. As I sat, he corrected me sharply, as only a parent-surgeon can. “Why sit sideways like that? You’ll hyperextend your knee.” He started naming ligaments. I just tuned out and shifted in my seat.
Later, as I forced myself along another oddly straight night walk, I considered the moment. I do often sit so one leg lies sideways across the chair, with my other leg over it. Had I ever thought about it, I might have called it my reaction to a world too short for me, like my leaning back on the rear legs of chairs. Now I see another adaptation to my bad stance — muscles so out of balance that it is more natural to sit like the Tarot’s Hanged Man.
This is a little story but for me an instructive one. Things that seem unrelated or rooted in different causes turn out to be the same buried problem, layered over and accomodated like a tree growing around a fencepost, creating all kinds of distortions. My last few years have involved re-seeing much of my life in this way, an unpleasant and humbling process but one for the long-term good. If nothing else, my knees should make it a bit longer. Perhaps I along with them.
Also, perhaps, another instruction: that the world is full of good advice and it comes out when one needs it, but it takes a modest attitude to hear it all.