WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?
For my mom, on the anniversary of her death...
This morning during my swim, in the meditative monotony of those endless laps, considering things I might feel compelled enough to share today, this favorite meme popped into my head. I've enjoyed reading it over the years, whenever it emerges again & again on the wave tips of the viral social media ocean, & made my own version of it for You’re Going to Die earlier this year.
I think it's hilarious. But this morning, maybe because of the ways I'm feeling about life lately, I thought about the wording with new meaning. I love how language changes, if you sit with it long enough or revisit it again & again.
When I thought about these words this morning, instead of humorously considering everything between birth & death as some ridiculous unanswerable question, I read, "What the fuck is this?" as a question begging to be answered. And urgently, with a cuss word for emphasis! Asking ME to answer it. COMPELLING me to. What the fuck IS this? And in the wake of that new meaning, I felt the responsibility that comes with considering the question in that light. That filling in the "in between" is ALWAYS up to me. When you consider the question as a call to action, a request for definition, an opportunity to create, or a chance to show up however you can... well then, this little silly meme feels like the WORLD to me today. It feels like ALL the possibilities of my LIFE.
And I imagine falling asleep last night to an On Being interview with Rachel Naomi Remen set my mind open this morning to reading this little meme in a totally different way. She tells the “story of the birthday of the world,” a story her Orthodox rabbi mystic grandfather told her:
“In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof, the source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand thousand things, emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then, perhaps because this is a Jewish story, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, broke. And the wholeness of the world, the light of the world was scattered into a thousand thousand fragments of light, and they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day.
Now, according to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It's a very important story for our times. That we heal the world one heart at a time. And this task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew. Restoring the world. It's the restoration of the world. And this is, of course, a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world. And that story opens a sense of possibility. It's not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It's about healing the world that touches you, that's around you. And that’s where our power is.”
So, you tell me, & you've got the preciously finite time between your birth & your death, no more, no less, to answer it: WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?