Like a lot of people, I’ve been trying to develop ‘coping strategies’ to deal with my underlying anxiety.
Of course, doing hitbodedut for an hour a day is top of the list.
And also, saying the Tikkun Haklali, and other prayers from the Rav (more on that soon).
And yes, giving tzedaka and doing pidyonot – especially with Shuvu Banim, and the people and organisations connected to it – are the key pillars of my coping strategy, and BH they are working.
That said, I spend a lot of time in my head, and I’ve learned over the years how important it is to also ground my body in ‘this world’, if I don’t want to crack up physically.
In the past (and when it’s not lockdown / coronafascism), I would take a walk for an hour every single day, while I was talking to God.
That way, the soul could express itself, while the body got a workout.
The last few months, that’s been much, much harder, as I don’t want to attract any attention for not wearing a mask (even tho you are allowed to exercise without one). It’s hard to stay ‘in the flow’ of talking to God, when you’re constantly scanning the 100 metres ahead to see if the bizzies are there, by the side of the road, just waiting to ticket you for breathing fresh air.
So I’ve been struggling a bit to find other ways to ground myself.
Enter: the guitar.
I have wanted to learn how to play guitar since I was six. My mother had an old guitar that was hopelessly out of tune, and that I tried to strum when I was a kid. But it sounded so bad, and I had no idea what I was doing, so eventually, I quit and forgot all about it.
As a grown up, I tried to persuade my kids, and even my husband, to learn the guitar.
No-one really took to it, and we just kind of collected old, cheap guitars until some kid took them off to school and donated them to the communal effort.
I never thought I’d play the guitar as an adult.
It hurts your fingers.
And I don’t read music.
And I’m too old to do that, now….
Except, I’m not.
A couple of months ago, one of the juvenile delinquents that occasionally visits my house brought his guitar, and tried to encourage me to play it.
I made the usual excuses (see above) – but he didn’t take no for an answer.
He told me anyone can play the guitar, and it’s just a matter of wanting to do it.
A month ago, I was walking past the little music shop on Ben Yehuda when I suddenly had an epiphany:
I’m going to try to learn the guitar!
I went in, find a classical guitar for a very reasonable price, and brought it home.
For the next three days I had a barrage of constant abuse and sniping from one of my kids (it’s that age…), where she was ‘sure’ I was going to give up within the week, and that I’d just wasted my money.
God sent her as an angel to get me through the painful fingers stage.
Because there was no way I was going to give in now, and give her the satisfaction of being right. I found an online course over at guitartricks.com for complete beginners (which I have to say, is really, really good) – and I started the process.
I’ve been at this for around a month now, and I’ve learned 7 chords OK, and I’m practising 2 more chords badly…
But I’m almost at the stage where at least sometimes, it sounds akin to music.
I know this is quite a ‘mundane’ post, in the middle of all the madness that we’re all living through right now.
But I wanted to write it, to encourage YOU, dear reader, to find something that will still make your soul sing, at least a little, in the middle of all the craziness.
Whether it’s buying yourself a nice box of watercolour paints, or a musical interest, or learning how to knit, or carve wood, or play darts, or even, just to find a good workout routine you can do at home and that energises you, it’s so important right now to find something ‘grounded’, that brings you joy.
I’m never going to be a virtuoso guitar player, but just being able to strum a bit, and to finally start living that dream is making me really happy.
Even in the middle of lockdowns and coronafascism, there is still so very much to be grateful for.
There is still so much we can do to make the world a better place, and to keep our souls alive.
Top of the list is praying, hitbodedut, charity and kindnesses for others, ESPECIALLY OUR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN.
But don’t forget about your body.
Don’t forget about yourself.
Find something ‘in this world’ that will make your soul sing, and also keep your body happy, and do it!
As Hillel said, ‘if not now, when?’
Everything is up in the air, the whole world is changing, everything is in flux.
But we can still serve Hashem in these small ways, by strumming a guitar, gardening, sewing, painting, writing poetry – whatever it is that speaks to you.
While we’re waiting for the Rav to get out of prison, finally, and for the ‘Great Reset’ from the side of holiness to begin in earnest.
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