The only trouble is: Gee whiz


I have a dream. Wait, no, I have many dreams. Some contradict with others, some with themselves. Some arrive with sudden moments of clarity, others sneak up slowly and burn with a passion. These psychological squatters come in acts of three: Where, What and Who. Where I want to live, what I want to do, and who I want to be.

I want to live in Safed, Israel; Jerusalem; or maybe a small moshav somewhere; I'd like to start a community; I dream about having a small farm in the outskirts of Denver; or maybe Virginia; Northern California always appeals to me; Sometimes I want to stay in Long Beach; I want to live somewhere beautiful, in nature, to drink oxygen and eat soil.

I want to have a farm, a homestead. I want to run a seminary focusing on a more agrarian lifestyle and real spirituality (as if I know what that is). There is this hostel/learning-institution/retreat in Safed called Ascent that I'd love to emulate somehow here in the states. I want to photograph weddings, or families. Or not. I have a dream about having a sort of photojournalism blog focusing on important and meaningful issues. Promoting a less consumer and more do it yourself lifestyle. Showing humane in the foreign, and the spirituality in the humane. I want to publish my photography in fancy books (and somehow convince people to buy them). I want to make beer. Own a cow, goats, chickens. I want to teach.

I want to be organized, calm, on time. I want to have lists and have them checked off. I want to love my fellow Jew. They say (no clue who "they" are, probably the same who don't let me play monopoly or read "the Hardy Boys" until I'm ten years old (ha!! I showed them!)) that love is a verb. I'm not so sure that is grammatically true but the actions prove the state. And if I'm not actively helping out my fellow Jews, spiritually; mentally; physically; emotionally, then my love is just a vague intellectual concept. I want to love G-d. To know Him. I want to daven like a mentch. I want to be strong and healthy. I want to be kind, considerate, patient. I dream of all these things. I want to know how my car works, how to build a table, wire a room, carve, whittle. I want to know where I left my shoes, my keys, and my light meter. I want to be honest, open, real. I want to wear tweed jackets with leather elbow patches, brown boots, professor glasses. I want to not care how I dress. I want to be a scholar.

Usually I dream of all three together. And my dreams are intense, detailed. One day I want to live in Safed. There is this dilapidated house at the outskirts of the old city I have my eye on. It's vacant, has a huge yard and from one side falls straight down to a valley below, with a magnificent view of the Galilee. It's owned by the Breslov mafia but I'm sure I can get them to sell. I'll have a few goats and chickens, and a nice garden. Teach in the seminaries, yeshivas, and Ascent. Get some other young families to move there. Take photos and sell them. Wake before sunrise and learn on a mountaintop.

And while the third category is most important, followed by the second, I spend most of my time dreaming of the first. It's after all a dream, and the less concrete the more intense. Larger leaps are always more romantic.

Dreams are like potions. Elixirs. Healthy, even needed, but only in small doses. It must be dripped into casks of contemplation and barrels of reality.

In the words of Victor Hugo (yup, still reading "Leh Misérables"):

“Thought is the toil of the intelligence, revery its voluptuousness. To replace thought with revery is to confound a poison with a food.”

Granted, revery is quite different from dreaming but the path between is short, steep, and deliciously slippery.

The Rebbe spoke often about Moshiach and how all we we have to do is "open our eyes", and live as if we already had world peace. As if we already got along. As if we did see G-dliness everywhere.

Lately I've been thinking about my dreams, and realizing how lazy and wimpy I really am. Although they come in wholes, they are but sums of parts, and I could be living those parts now. Starting with the third category and moving up. Inconspicuous leaps, tiny jumps. Working towards the dreams.

And that's my resolution for this young fresh year. I can write, learn, teach, love, now. I dream about living in nature but do I make the time for a walk in the park? Nay, this is the year I practice living, you know, to get good at it. So to the dreamers out there I wish you courage to make small changes, and to the do-ers out there I wish upon you the power to dream.


I'll be on the East Coast the week of October 20th and possibly a bit beyond. If you're interested in joining a quickshoot to help out my brother in law (see here for the details) or to book a documentary session, hit me with an email and let's make it happen!