Friday, March 10, 2006

And the Rubber Chicken Award Goes To...

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I have no clue where rubber chickens rank in this world. I know they're the brunt of many jokes, but I have no clue why.

My oldest son had to do a book report a few years ago, and along with the written report, had to do a presentation to the class as well. He was portrayed as a farm boy with a straw hat, suspenders...and the piece de resistance: a rubber chicken in place of the real thing.

My son is a quiet boy who shirks away from the limelight, but he held center stage with that rubber chicken who, when squeezed, let out a G-d-awful mourning cry.

Last year, your friend and fellow blogger, TorontoPearl, who herself often shirks away from the limelight, decided to use that chicken for her own devices.

If you went to megillah reading at Toronto's--and I believe North America's--largest Orthodox synagogue, and it was time to make noise after hearing the name "Haman", amidst the graggers and horns and clapping hands, and boos and hisses and stomping feet, you might have heard the lone, lengthy squawk of a rubber chicken up in the women's gallery.

Okay, so it's not a typical noisemaker for Purim, but sometimes I dare to be just a little bit different. And I saw the smiles it brought to adults' & children's faces, making my slight self-consciousness all that more worthwhile.

So...this Purim, look out. Pearl and her rubber chicken might be performing at a megillah reading near you!

Some More Food for Thought

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The following is excerpted from Everyday Ethics by Joshua Halberstam.

When you judge other people, remember one overrriding axiom: "Everyone is having a hard time."

Everyone is insecure.
Everyone is hassled.
Everyone is tired -- we all need more sleep.
Everyone wishes he had more courage, more money and better social skills.
Everyone wants more glamour in his life, and we all desperately need more laughter.
Few can figure out how they ended up living the life they lead.
Don't be misled by flippant talk; it's a battle for everyone.

...Give people a break. It's not easy doing a life.

Shabbat Shalom, everyone.

Food for Thought: Carrots, Eggs & Coffee

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You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again...

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to take it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see."

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard cooked egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, "What does it mean?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? (this could be a good thing) Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.