You win some, you (almost) win some…
As many of you know, I entered a writing contest a few months ago through Moment Magazine. I kind of stumbled upon it, found the topic interesting (the intersection of anxiety and Judaism) so I jotted down some ideas and sent it in. I didn’t really take it all that seriously – and didn’t think that anyone else did, either. I thought that what I wrote was pretty good, but I didn’t exactly spend a whole lot of time on it…..
a few weeks later I saw a post of Facebook from Moment Magazine urging everyone to do their final edits and get their essays in. Edits? FINAL edits? Um… I just wrote something, read it over once, corrected some grammar, and hit ‘send’. On the online form. Without even keeping a copy for myself. Yikes!
Well, needless to say, I didn’t win. I wasn’t a finalist. I was given the honor though, of having an excerpt of my essay published in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue… which is pretty darned cool. All of the winners and finalists also happen to be real-life published authors, so being chosen to have an excerpt included in the magazine feels pretty great. I even emailed the contest folks and asked if they have the full text of my essay to send back to me. Luckily for me, they sent it back right away…. so… if you’re interested…. here it is! I’d love to hear what you think!
Wishing you light and love!
I have never sat comfortably in a chair for an extended period of time. Sure, I’ve relaxed, I’ve lounged, I’ve hung out, but it’s always been relatively short-lived. Inevitably, each time that I sink back into a comfortable position, the moment comes when I sit upright, plant my feet, and prepare. What am I preparing for? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe I’m bored, maybe my to-do list starts to run through my head, maybe there’s some Jewish guilt about taking time for myself, or maybe I just get restless. Maybe. Or maybe it’s something more, something stronger, something so deeply ingrained in me that I don’t even notice it most of the time.
My grandparents survived the Shoah. Like many of our beloved family members, their story is one of fear, horror, strength, courage, and resilience. I grew up hearing bits and pieces of their past, but for the most part they tried to shield us kids from the details. We lived comfortable, blessed lives, and yet the one thing that they couldn’t shield us from was, what I call, “the hum.” The best way that I can explain the hum is that it is this underlying buzz of muted anxiety, rarely discussed, but ever-present. My grandmother, who has lived in Canada for 60 years, still needs to be cajoled into putting on her seat belt every time she gets into a car, and when she sits in a chair, there it is. She sits on the edge, readying herself to jump up if need be. The Gestapo isn’t coming. She knows that. We all know that… but the thought of being stuck, unable to escape at a moment’s notice is unbearable to her. That anxiety is always there, it’s the hum.
All of us feel the hum. No matter how safe we are, no matter how happy or secure, there is a hum, an anxiety that can be traced back to those frightening days in Poland – even for those of us who have never had to live through such atrocities. The hum is our legacy, it is our reminder, and our story… and so when I sit on the edge of my seat, or subconsciously scan a room for exits, I can laugh at myself for this silly, knee-jerk reaction, and I can also notice it, pause, and know that I will never forget.