Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting a PhD in Life

[image: My wonderful son "D",bareheaded, lighting the Hanukah menorah]

Very few of us get through life without some big challenge- and often more than one. A few days ago I turned 59 (I can’t believe that I am almost 60!), and as I look back on my life, I feel that I am working towards my PhD. Looking for a spouse was course 101 in emuna and bitachon (belief and faith). Having a child drop out of high school and almost “go off the derech” ( choose a different way of life style than us) was another level- class 201. Ricki’s birth was 301, and the fight for her inclusion, which was a bitter and long battle, was 401. Having several children truly become irreligious was already a masters. And a certain ongoing trial which I deal with , I feel, is my coursework towards my PhD in life. And I have learned a lot. In fact, as I told one of my older children recently, I am absolutely astounded at some of the choices I made 15 years ago, and I pray that if I were to be faced with similar problems today, my reactions would be much more empathetic, assertive, and sensible.
Simply said, life is never perfect, and we have the chance and ability to grow and improve our midos (character) as we travel along.
[image: The lights, the last evening of Hanukah.]
Last night as I gazed at the Chanukah lights, I thought that this is one of the real messages that the holiday has to bequeath to us. There are often battles… and there is no Pollyanna promise from G-d that if we do His will, our lives will be easy. But those brightly burning lights can remind us of the flame of our soul, the strength that G-d implanted within us to persevere, and to hope, to struggle, and to grow, as (quoting Rav Salanter, who quoted the shoemaker working by oil-lamp light), “As long as the light burns, it is possible to fix.”


Staying Afloat said...

This post hits home, big time.

I like the idea of a progression, that in our lives we're meant to learn all this along the way. And that right doesn't have to mean easy. So, I'm right there with you.

May you have nachas from all your kids.

Ilana said...

You are a hero to me. I find your posts inspiring, and this one really touched me. Thank you.

Cindy said...

Great post.

I like the way life has afforded you an education. I think we all know life does that to us, but you have put it perfectly into words!

mikimi said...

I can so relate to many aspects of your life and what you write in your posts. I have been in mental hospital although B"H it has been many years ago. I just turned 48 Erev Chanukah.My DD chose a different life-style than my own and due to my behavior to her when she was young, I rarely get to see her these days. She is married and they live far away (but in EY) but6 by his parents.Life can hurt but we struggle on in the university of this life HaShem has granted us.My challenges seemed hard but yours are "more manifold" as there are more people involved in your life.I am glad that you also have nachas from some of your children and grandchildren.

Batya said...

Lovely post. Sixty's not that bad. Forty was the worst.

rickismom said...

Mikimi, Baruch HaShem I have Nachas from ALL of my kids. Even those who are not religious, are Thank G-d, "menchen" (good people),smart, considerate,and they have coped amazingly well with some very unfair stuff that was thrown their way. It's just a different kind of nachas.