Ataya NessAiver
"G-d is the partner of our innermost soliloquies" ~Victor Frankel

2020 -The Breaking Point: Saying Hello to Myself

Waterfall by the Kineret (Matana Zwirren)

“( קרוב ה’ לנשברי לב (תהילים לד:יט. G-d is close the the brokenhearted. ”
Sometimes, the breaking point, is the greatest gift we can be given.
Life is a storm. The waves splash, battering, hammering, smashing, crashing, into our hulls time and time again. Our boat rocks, threatening to overturn. Up is down, and drowning in our tears seems ever more likely. And yet… in the eye of the storm, there is peace.

So often, our sense of security, of self-love, of happiness, is gleaned from outside sources. In the best case, from Ideals, creative projects, or loved ones, and in the worst case, from physical attractions and mind numbing experiences. The escapes we all utilize to weather the storm. That extra cookie, tv show, or smoke. The result, besides for temporary bliss, is a reactive, responsive life. A ship anchored to the winds themselves, to external circumstance, is by definition subject to volatility. Tossed every which way, shipwreck sometimes seems inevitable. But then comes the breaking point.

One of the most powerful experiences in my life, was war week in the army. A week of no sleep, constant “attacks” from “enemies”, little food, and bloodied arms from constant crawling on rough rocks. It was hard. Very hard. But, we pushed forwards and, in fact, we got into a routine. A routine of no routine. Anything could happen, and it did happen, time and time again. We reached a stage that nothing surprised us anymore. We were ready for anything. And THAT, as sleep deprived as it felt, was empowering. We finished that week invulnerable. And, surprising as it was, that was the first time I truly enjoyed the army. I knew I could do it. I had done it. I was untouchable. In a deep way, I had felt something I had seldom felt before – a power the of self, transcendent, capable. A self that whatever would be thrown at me, would always remain. I had found an anchor.

People who traverse difficult territory – sickness, death, pain – and come out the other side often have a new appreciation for life. Its a paradigm shift. A realignment of values. An appreciation for what they have, and what’s truly important and whats not. But I believe it is more than that.

I believe that there is a unique pleasure experienced when we touch our truest self. It is the experience of Consciousness, the pleasure of choosing to love ourselves, to be our own best friend, and the security knowing that whatever happens, that will not change. It is the pleasure of just being us, beautiful, perfect, without the external stories or lenses that we use to color reality, making us reactive, victimized, vindictive, that make us think we’re not worth it. Our truest self, deserves love. And when all external crutches are stripped from us, we come face to face with that self. If we choose to love it, we plant our anchor in the depths of the ocean, unshakable.

When G-d throws us under the bus, it hurts. Pain is a part of life. “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something”. (~Wesley, the Princess Bride). In this we may have no choice. But whether we suffer from that pain, whether we let that pain affect our essence, destroy our sense of Self Worth, that, I believe, is a choice. “God is close to the broken hearted”. When the Psalmists refer to taking “shelter under the shade of the Divine Presence,” I believe it refers to accepting the process that G-d, Life, is leading us through. We don’t really have a choice there anyway. But to to travel that path from a place of joy, from a connection to our Self that is loved, from within, and can’t be touched. That, is a choice. To realize that whatever happens, who we are will always remain ok. Scary things, horrible things, do happen. We mess up. We let other people down. It happens. Life goes on. That means we have lessons to learn, and ways in which to grow. Surprise, welcome to being human. But we, like everyone else, are beautiful on the inside, separated from our ugly stories, from our negative habits we’ve developed along the way as defense mechanisms. And living from that is Powerful. Flowing.

It is from this place, this Wellbeing, that we can love. That we can be in relationship with others, and even reality itself. It is from here we can regain the curious laughter of our inner child, for life takes on a wholly different sheen. If whatever happens is separate from our Truest Self, reality itself can be taken with a grain of salt. With humor. With curiosity. With gratitude.

2020 has been a hurricane. A barrage of such force I wouldn’t be surprised if Life itself isn’t out of breath. Sometimes shipwreck is inevitable. But sometimes it is on that lonely, desolate island where we meet our greatest gift: Ourselves.

About the Author
Originally from a charedi background in Baltimore, I made Aliyah approximately three years ago and joined Hesder through Yeshivat Kerem B'yavneh. I served in the Tanks brigade for a year and a half, and am now studying in Yeshivat Otniel.
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