Monday, February 2, 2009

Illustrated Milk

One Shabbos while at SerandEz, this conversation happened:

Erachet: It's calming. It looks like milk.
SJ: So when I need to calm you down I should just pour you a glass of milk to look at?
Erachet: No, only illustrated milk.

Now, on the surface, that seems to make no sense. What on earth is illustrated milk? What can I mean by it? Why do I find it so calming?

Here is a picture of illustrated milk:

Illustrated Milk

There is something about that cool blue and white image that I find extremely comforting. I'm going to let you all into the workings of my mind for a moment. From this sort of picture, I think about similar images from childhood. For example, my mind today jumped from the image of milk to this image from If You Give A Mouse A Cookie*:


Illustrated milk, for me, symbolizes childhood. A sort of cookies-and-milk childhood. And I find that childhood comforting. It's a safe place. It's a world where you feel like anything is possible. Don't you remember being a little kid and feeling the wide world out in front of you, sensing all the possibilities, all the adventure, feeling you could do whatever you wished when you were old enough? Remember when people used to tell you that you could be whatever you want when you grow up?

But then you grow up and realize it's not enough to just want to be something. You have to actually have the capabilities for it. You have to be qualified. And the world has to also want you. And so, too many dreams drift slowly away in the dirty city air, or get crushed by the multitude pairs of feet rushing, rushing, rushing to and from office buildings and banks and courts and banks and office buildings. That dreaming little voice in your head gets drowned out by the screeching subway cars as they storm by like a herd of charging elephants.

And then again, sometimes you're able to approach things from that childlike point of view, to see the world in its vastness and possibilities once more, and feel that you really could do anything if you wished to. If you can do that, the very narrow, trapped feeling of, "I am finishing college and must now follow the next step in this path set for me by some sort of authoritative figure and find a job doing something I know I'm capable of, probably starting at the way bottom filing and answering phones, etc. etc. etc." melts away, is overpowered by this new - or perhaps old - eye-opening mindset.

Who says I have to play by the rules? Who says I have to be obvious? Just because I always thought of myself as an English person doesn't mean I can't get a job doing something that has nothing to do with books. Maybe I'll find something to do that's entirely random and yet utterly enjoyable. Maybe I'll find something that's completely out of the blue and yet insanely interesting.

I'm not bound by my major or by my passions. I think sometimes passion can be stifling. It's very possessive. It doesn't let you even want to do anything else.

I don't want to shed my passions. I still want to write. My dream is still to write. But I also wish to enjoy my life. This is my life I'm living, here. Not some checklist someone created for me with elements I must tick off every couple of years. A life does not have to be lived according to a list. A life is not something linear where you go from one predetermined thing to the next predetermined thing to the next. A life is all over the place. It's spontaneous. It's surprising. It's the only one I've got - I want to make it worth living. I want to enjoy it. And why shouldn't I enjoy it?

In this life, I wish to follow the Torah and halacha properly, to one day raise a frum Jewish family, to fullfill all my goals and ambitions as a writer, and to be happy with my life in every aspect.

I think we should all strive to be happy with our lives. We aren't going to get another opportunity to enjoy where we are other than in this life we are now living. Make the most of it.

Be happy. :)

* If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is one of the best children's books EVER.


Unfurling Iris said...

It's companion, If You Give a Moose a Muffin is also terrific.

Northern Light said...

All this from illustrated milk?