Jewish Atheist tagged me with the newest meme. The idea is to pick five posts which reflect the evolution of one's blog and then to pass the meme on to five others.
Jewish Atheist explains that he feels my blog "has tracked her maturation from floundering teen to sophisticated college student." Sophisticated is probably not the word, but I think that I have definitely changed since the beginning of this blog. So I'm going to go through the five entries that track this change. However, I'm going to take them from the year '07 rather than from the very beginning, because I think the greater change can be seen within the parameters of the one year.
1. Templars (7/2/07): This blog most truly begins with Templars. The very first few posts deal with it; I abandoned it for a little while and then came back to it again. The problem I have been wrestling with over the course of this blog is how to deal with people who hurt other people, especially with the teachers at Templars. They mean well. They mean to help me. So at first the answer was very simple- it was to hate them and everything they stood for, indeed, to hate all Chareidim and even to distance myself from Orthodox Judaism. There was a reason I did not learn anything Jewish oriented for two years. It was because I could not stomach it. I did not want to touch anything that reminded me of Templars and of the sick people there. This leads me to the problem of...
2. Control (7/15/07): How was I going to prevent what happened at Templars to ever happen again? Well, that was simple. I needed to be in control. I had to control my surroundings, my environment, my responses to stimuli; I needed to figure out a way to control everything that impacted me in any way so that nobody could hurt me. The problem is that this simply does not work for me. I am emotionally reactive rather than a rational person who pauses to assess situations and figure out the most effective way to respond. So I have to be in control of everything in order to prevent bad things from happening, and if they should come to pass, I would have no one to blame but myself. This somehow comforted me at the same time that it was completely frustrating. The problem is that I know I do not know everything and control means asserting that I do know everything...
3. Logic & Imagination (8/21/07): This is probably the clearest expression of the way that I think. It's a mixture of logic and imagination; it's not purely one or the other. I tend more toward the imaginative side of things than the logical side, but logic is still important. I truly believe they are both necessary- logic and imagination, halakha and aggada. But for me, the more important side is the imaginative, aggadic side. This was important for me to understand.
4. Learn from Everybody (9/3/07): This post answers the question I had raised back in '05. How do I interact with people I can't respect, people like the teachers at Templars? I can hate them, but hating them is simply me wasting my energy in an unproductive fashion. So it is better to learn from them. Learn from them and from everybody else- learn what to do or what not to do, but there is something to be gained from every situation, no matter how upsetting it is at the time.
5. Taking Stock (9/11/07): This one takes the ideas in "Learn from Everybody" further. I finally understand how to interact with people of all kinds and types in a way that fits me and my personality, the personality described in "Logic & Imagination." How can I, an imaginative and emotional person, interact in a productive and accepting way with all people (rather than a judgmental one?) It will be different for me than it would be for a logical and analytical person. I have to play to my strengths. So I determined "I try to see them for what is good in them, but if that fails, I look for their pain, and if I can't find that either, I look for what is bothering me about them, their flaws, and I succeed in finding a similar flaw in myself. And so I find that I am connected to all people, no matter how seemingly different, and there is a way to see them all and to accept them."
And this is what I meant in this post.
I've learned it's okay to say "I don't know." I've learned I don't have to be in control of everything. At the same time I know I need to pause to think before simply responding or reacting to something someone else says (something I have to work on.) I've learned, perhaps most importantly, that people needn't be ugly or beautiful but simply people. I've learned that every person can teach me something and that there is a way for me to accept every person. I've learned that I don't have all the answers and that there is an excellent chance they won't be given to me. I know now that I need to live the questions, as much as I wish I didn't have to.
I couldn't have done any of this on my own. It's the people I know now who have helped me to see all of this, alternatively taught me or guided me in order to show me that things need not be so simple. The world is not black and white; binary thinking won't help me. After Templars I simply distanced myself from everything Jewish and hated Orthodoxy. The two years at North Shore was a time for me to heal and grow, to reaffirm everything that I find to be beautiful. I came to Stern and was lucky enough to meet people who challenge me and help me grow. I know I still have a lot to learn, and sometimes I find that daunting. So I take it a day at a time.
My friends are my teachers.
I tag Ezzie, Jameel, Wolfish Musings, Scraps and Yitz.