Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eat Your Hearts Out on Yom Kippur

Keith here.

Let me generate some envy among my friends and fellow Inkspotters. While you are heading to Baltimore for four days of schmoozing, drinking, and carousing at Bouchercon, the world’s largest crime fiction conference, I am getting ready to spend a day meditating and praying and fasting. Eat (don’t say that word to me tomorrow) your hearts out.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, starts this evening and the fasting that goes with it is supposed to encourage introspection, I guess. The rules are tough in one respect – no liquid or food from sundown tonight till darkness tomorrow – but reasonable in another: the young, elderly, nursing, pregnant, or sick are absolved from fasting. As regular readers of this blog know, I am a tea addict. The hot green liquid fuels my writing engine. Part of being an addict is craving. The other part is a physical reaction when your addiction goes unsatisfied. I qualify on that score, too. If I don’t have tea, I end up with a whopper of a headache. An iron band closes around my forehead, while the top of my head is used as an anvil by an invisible blacksmith. Several years ago a rabbi-friend told me that God doesn’t want me writhing in agony during services. So once or twice tomorrow, I’ll swallow a couple of Excedrin, a dry cocktail of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine.

Living amidst the riches of Silicon Valley requires a level head and good balance. (One daughter had her locker next to a classmate’s whose father made more than $250M in salary and bonus in a single year.) Otherwise, one would spend all his time bursting with envy. An underestimated factor in garnering Silicon Valley wealth is luck. There used to be an eTrade billboard on 101 that said, “Someone will win the lottery. It just won’t be you.” Exactly. In the middle of a wall in my office, I have a piece of framed parchment with a quote from the ancient sage Ben Zoma. In Hebrew it asks, “Who is rich? The person who rejoices in what he has.” I keep trying to remember that as I watch my savings evaporate. I have my family, friends, colleagues, writing, and more – despite the confounded stock market, I need to rejoice more. A worthy resolution for year 5769 on the Jewish calendar, don’t you think?

May you all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good and sweet year.


G.M. Malliet said...

>>May you all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good and sweet year.<<

Thank you, Keith. That is a lovely blessing.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks you, Keith, for reminding us of what is important, especially now as we watch this financial disaster grow.

We are all richer just by knowing each other.

Terri Thayer said...

May your fast be an easy one.

May this country's fast be an easy one, too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the perspective. Great post!

Mark Combes said...

We have so much. But we always want more. I'm guilty of it. I want it all knowing full well that I'll never achieve it. It's insanity isn't?

I'm not Jewish but I once had a Jesuit monk tell me that one should make room for introspection on a regular basis. Tomorrow seems like a good day....

Keith Raffel said...

Not that anyone was too worried, but I did have a pretty easy fast. Thanks for the comments. Mark, how did your day of introspection go?