Sunday, July 17, 2011

High on Life !

David was not his usual self. The past few months of financial setbacks have gotten to him. Life seemed to have lost its spark. The magic of his past was difficult to recapture. No longer was he able to easily visit his favorite restaurants, frequent his vacation spots, and give his wife and children their joys. Every major purchasing decision was like wading through molasses, as he had to compare prices and time payments like never before.

Feeling in the dumps one evening, he called his Rabbi for comfort. "Please come by in an hour and join me for dinner", offered his Rabbi.

"Of course!", replied David excited to be invited.

The Rabbi meanwhile made some special Moroccan fish. He lined a baking pan with cilantro and hot peppers. Then he laid out Nile perch over the bed of cilantro and peppers. Finally, he covered the fish with another layer of cilantro and peppers. Then he placed the pan in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. Just as his fish was ready, David was knocking on his door.

David and the Rabbi sat down to dine. On the Rabbi's instructions, David was given a dish with a few flakes of fish mixed into a heaping mound of cilantro and peppers. The Rabbi was served a fillet of perch sprinkled with a few flakes of cilantro and peppers. The arrangement seemed odd to David, but, he patiently held his tongue. He even enjoyed his first few bites, but, then lost interest, as the dish was not satisfying his hunger.

Meanwhile, as the Rabbi was heartily enjoying his dish, he motioned to David to please continue eating. David shrugged to politely indicate that he lost interest. "Why aren't you eating?", questioned the Rabbi.

"My plate is too heavy with condiment and too light with fish", admitted David.

"Ah", rejoined the Rabbi. "That's your problem! You are seeking condiments of life, instead of life itself!"

"What do you mean?” David responded in shock.

The Rabbi explained, "Happiness is interwoven into the fabric of life itself. It just comes along with the sensation of life. The two are inseparable, like wetness and water. Once  the sensation of life is your main dish, a sprinkling of life condiments can work their magic ~ enhancing life's joys.  However, though condiments alone may taste interesting for a few bites, they don't supply real satisfaction. So first get yourself high on life and only then will condiments, like financial prosperity, carry any meaning."

"But, I was enjoying my life for many years, before my finances plummeted.", countered David.

"Yes, that's true.", assured the Rabbi. "You certainly were enjoying life then. You just forgot what it was you enjoyed!  You think the pleasures came from your luxuries, when really they were produced by the sensation of life itself. Some people who recall a delicate meal in a very fine restaurant months later, seem to remember the sizzling tastes of amazing condiments and forget the foods they accented. If these patrons walked out empty bellied, they would have considered their visit worthless. So too, your dominant memory from back then, is focused on condiments. That was just the sprinkling over the amazing sensation of being alive. You can easily reclaim what really filled you with such joy. Happiness is just waiting for you to open the door."

With that lesson, David returned home. He began focusing his attention on enjoying the sensation of life. He began each new day with a meditation, sensitizing himself to the beautiful flow of life coursing right through him. He stopped obsessing over his financial woes. Whatever life scenario naturally streamed by his way, flowing down river of life, became the condiment of the moment. He was just taking in one day at a time, always thoroughly relishing his main dish with an ever changing variety of condiments, uniquely crafted for him from the "Table Above".


Afterthought: This story was inspired by the advice I recently received from the Kalover Rebbe.

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