It's 1:47 AM here in balmy Hancock Park. I'm sitting on a sheetless mattress in the back of my minivan, cushioned with a down blanket and pillow, propped against the sidewall, waiting for sobriety to make its beleaguered appearance.
There's a sort of battle being waged between my stomach and a slightly copious amount of aged fermented barley (single malt of course) from some far flung corner of Scotland. My anti-alcohol muscles have recently been suffering from atrophy. Shrinking, drying up, and generally falling into various states of disuse.
Yesterday was the third day of the Jewish month of Tammuz. On this day nineteen years ago, our Rebbe and leader left this physical world. Unlike the previous leaders, there was no successor. No child, no in-law, no prodigal student willing and able to fill the void. I was just a child, much more oblivious than most, but even I remember the feeling of confusion, the fear of uncharted waters.
As the weeks, months, and years went by, it became clear that the Rebbe, while physically gone, was very much here, still guiding and leading. He somehow left his essence in a prodigious amount of talks, letters, correspondences, lectures, and stories. And through reading, studying, and learning we can not only connect with him, but gain answers and insights to our current challenges.
There's this wonderful concept we have called a Farbrengen. In short it's a gathering of friends, where we talk about real issues, personal challenges, sing Chassidic melodies, and strengthen each others' commitment to keep on rocking the good fight. And there is always the the presence of some good 'ole alcohol to help open up (but drinking too much is strongly frowned upon). One of the concepts that we farbrenged about was the idea (something the Rebbe spoke about very often) that every single day was its own unit of time. Suspended between yesterday and tomorrow, it takes on its own meaning. Not limited to the mistakes and accomplishments of yesterday, nor a pawn to the plans of tomorrow. Yes, yesterday may have been an epic disaster, and tomorrow may be shaping up to be the bees knees, but today is an island. And wallowing or waiting is not an option.
So to all those who find themselves floundering in the narrow chasm between yesterday and tomorrow, I raise this glass of todayness, rich with opportunity, truth, and nowness. Bottoms up!
In my travels I've met some people deserving of all sorts of wonderful adjectives. One of these colorful folks is the inimitable Rabbi Shmuel Marcus and his merry band of the Mrs. and co. Living between yesterday and tomorrow, constantly pursuing new ideas, many of which succeed, some not (one of the successful ones is his band Eighth Day. I had the pleasure of photographing them some time back). Shmuel has been an awesome friend for us since we moved to Long Beach. I've worked for him in various capacities (running Jewish clubs, teaching high school students, adult classes, and currently I design his soulwise magazine) and he is always looking out for us, throwing ideas our way, and acting as a sounding board for my crazy plans. He's also insanely supportive of my photography. This here below is his family.