There was a moment during Jake and Eleonore's wedding party when Joey was leading everyone in a rich and layered a cappella nign singing circle. Rings of friends and family circled around the inner circle, of Jake and Eleonore and their parents. Our voices rising and falling together, the whole room resonating together, people laughing, smiling, eyes closed, eyes open, drinking, and mostly very present. I had this fleeting thought that went something along the lines of, "This is Joey leading an a cappella song circle. It's what Joey does." And then I stopped, and I thought, "No, this is what Joey DOES and it's amazingly precious and rare, and we are insanely lucky to be part of a community that takes someone like him, and something like this, for granted. That's when I cried a little, and Esther noticed, and she put her arm around me, and we kept singing. Joy.
This week's mide (middah) is GRATITUDE. I've been thinking about it a lot, and wondering why practicing gratitude, which I am actually pretty damned good at, doesn't make me complain less about the things I don't feel grateful for. I thought they would be like two ends of a tether. The more I focus on what I am grateful for, the more I will notice that there is really no need to complain about the other stuff, but so far it feels more like to co-existing realities. Over here in this room are a ton of things I feel grateful for, and over here in this room are all the things that bug the shit out me, and I can walk in and out of both rooms and have as much as I want of either, and they don't seem to preclude one another.
The only difference is that I am very practiced at noticing the stuff I want to complain about, and don't need a complaining practice to pull my attention to what's lacking in my life. I'm less practiced at noticing the stuff I am grateful for, and a practice allows me to notice that there is what feels so far like an endless stream of things I am grateful for.
One of them is my vibrant, mad talented, funny, musical, inappropriate, familial Jewish and Yiddish cultural community.