Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

What we waste

One of the frequent conversations in our household is the imperative to finish everything that is on your plate. From my standpoint, one should eat until hunger has been satisfied and the state of satisfaction has been reached. The other approach is that you are obligated to finish everything on your plate.

Is there one correct answer to this debate? The reasoning behind everything that is on your plate is that it is a crime to waste anything, be it food on your plate or leftovers in the refrigerator. My position is that the world isn’t negatively impacted by leaving some food when I have eaten as much as I want or need.

Here is the question that I offer to you. What truly constitutes waste? Is it leaving food on a plate or cooking enough for 45 when there are only two or three who are eating? What is the consequence of cooking too much? We deplete food sources and supplies but is this really harmful? My response is that it’s only harmful when others will not have the food they need as a direct result of our gluttony.

If we extrapolate a bit, how can we reduce waste of many of the resources to which we have access. For one, it seems to be a waste of gasoline to drive to a nearby location when walking is easily accomplished. From there, it seems to be a waste of resources when we use too many plastic bags and fail to recycle them. Likewise, paper bags can also be recycled if we spent the time and a small amount of effort.

Better yet, use the heavy duty bags that are available in large chains and grocery groups, eliminating the brown and skimpy plastic bags. In other words, it’s clear that a large component of waste is pure laziness or lack of concern for protecting and preserving our world. Somehow, it all amounts to doing the right thing for our planet and the smaller parts of it in which we reside. I’ll stick with my belief that the world isn’t harmed when I don’t finish what’s on my plate unless I have purchased and prepared too much food to help those who don’t have enough. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

The words we use

If you are at all like me, you have the occasion to visualize someone from your past for no particular reason. From there, you recollect one or more conversations with that person.

Sometimes you may be able to reconstruct those chats, completely or in part. Sometimes you simply can’t remember what was said by you or the other party. But what if somehow you had the ability to recover whatever part of whatever communication you wanted?

I’m not talking about some kind of voodoo or magic. But let’s imagine for just a quick second that you could go back to any time and place you choose. The reason for going back there is to remember precisely what was said.

The first step might be the venue. It could be a graduation or wedding ceremony an interview, a first date, or an accidental encounter. Maybe it was last week or maybe it was nineteen years ago.

Once that is established, the other party may or may not be a given. If I consider my college graduation, for instance, there were at least two or maybe three people there to celebrate the occasion. What I am seeking is the exchange of words between those present and me.

You may choose to delete a particular day or place and simply relive the experience of being with someone in particular. It may be an afternoon or an evening that you spent with someone who has since passed away.

The chances are pretty good that multiple have, do, and will think of you and the words you shared. We can’t control recollections of the past but we can certainly control remembrances of those conversations that we are having or are going to have.

My recommendation to students is never to say anything that they want to retract. While I hope that those who remember me recollect the good words I’ve uttered, I can’t guarantee it. All I know for certain is that since I’ve learned the importance of choosing speech carefully, I hope that I haven’t created an unpleasant recollection for anyone. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle · Writing, editing, editorial, philosophy

If only

To my knowledge, I have never before wondered how it would feel to imagine how an inanimate object would feel if it were suddenly alive and capable of thought or emotion. It’s pretty ridiculous, after all, to wonder how your car feels when you get into it or how your shoes feel when you insert your feet. On the other hand (or foot), I have allowed myself the literary license to imagine what my new book would be experiencing if it had feelings.

There are good reasons for my wandering down this path. The book is the product of many years of the hardest work that I have ever done, other than teaching. It represents many hours of research, pages and pages of notes, and five edits once the book was completed. No, I haven’t lost track of reality. It’s my author frame of mind that causes me to wonder what the book would say if it were capable of speech other than its printed pages.

One message that has been delivered loudly from this item is, “I am your miracle.” It’s difficult to express how the word miracle became attached to this volume except that I worked on it for so long that at times, it was beyond comprehension that it would become reality. After that, the book is telling me to make it available to those who can benefit most from it. This is a long list and while I would love to have the identity of all those who fit into this category, I can only guess (and hope).

Although we are losing Holocaust survivors every day, some remain. Many who do are determined to tell their story, both to provide hope to those suffering in any way and to make certain that the tragedies of World War II are never repeated. Jews were not the only group of people who were targeted. Approximately two and a half million Russians were killed by the Nazis after Germany invaded the Soviet Union. And so, not only the Jews wish to derive hope from stories such as mine; but also, others share that goal.

If my book had the ability to speak, I suspect that it would also provide encouragement to those who seek to create a book or play or musical composition but do not have the determination or confidence to do so. Twenty years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be an author. Now I have two of my own books in print, one collaboration, and three more in progress. Never give up faith in yourself or your abilities. All you need to believe is to remind yourself that you have the initiative and the talent to proceed.

Finally, my book would be saying that I am entitled to feel the joy and gratification that I do each time I look at it. The majority of that joy is directly I attributed to the fact that I have succeeded in sending my message to those alive and remembered, that their memories are for a blessing. We shall never forget what they endured and for as long as God sees fit to continue my life on this planet, I will do everything I can to honor them. Shalom

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

House on fire

Reorganizing my bookshelves today, I rediscovered a treasured book that offers hundreds of suggestions on subjects for writing efforts. It’s my blessing that I seldom have trouble identifying subjects that are worthy of pursuing in this blog but the book is provocative and extremely interesting.

The one that I seized for this moment has to do with a fire starting in your home and the need to select one item that you could take with you. Thankfully, I have never had to survive a fire so I cannot speak from experience on this subject. And while I would like to believe that I would have an opportunity to grab more than one thing as I left a burning house, that would defeat the purpose of this exercise.

It’s not an easy endeavor. My first thoughts were the pictures of my family. More than anything else in the home, these pictures can never be duplicated. Second was my purse. It has my wallet and critical pieces of identification. The cash isn’t a consideration – while I never have much cash, the banks and other companies would ultimately provide access to whatever finances I need or would need after leaving the house.

My next thought was my jewelry box. It contains treasures that I could never replace, either legacies or gifts. The bedroom (and jewelry box) are closer to the front door but the unknown becomes, where is the fire most serious and requiring the greatest amount of avoidance? The advantage of taking one item from the bedroom is that there is a door to the back yard, seldom used but certainly available in a fire.

After I examined these three choices, the last is the most obvious to anyone who has known me for more than ten minutes. That which has the greatest and most incalculable value is my laptop. My published book and its successor are there, as well as another book in progress to which I have probably dedicated several hundred hours.

We can hope that I will never need to make such a decision and that a house fire is nowhere in my future. But as I submit the idea to you, it’s an inquiry that I believe is absolutely worthwhile. What do you need to preserve more than anything else. Needless to say, spouses and children are excluded from the exercise because their safety is paramount.

But after that, what do you want to save? What can’t you replace? It becomes a commentary on that which is part of your bank account versus part of your heart. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Ethical dilemma

Relaxing in my recliner yesterday afternoon, I was beginning to feel guilty about the process of sitting there, doing nothing. You’ve just published a book, I reminded myself. There are numerous actions you can take to promote said book. A few people in your address book haven’t been told about it. You could always create a press release. And on and on it went.

Suddenly, I began to think about the Protestant work ethic that we learned and practiced, no matter what our religion, geography, philosophy, socio-economic level, or shoe size. The gist of that was that if you work hard, and are thrifty and efficient, you would be entitled to eternal salvation.

To those of you who are too young to have heard of the Protestant ethic, we were introduced to it when we were forming methods with which we would be living our lives. Laziness is not an acceptable option. Neither is wasting time. While my personal religious beliefs don’t allow for buying or working my way into heaven, it’s curious that I was feeling that I was committing some type of sin by doing nothing at all.

How do we get to such beliefs? One easy answer is that many of us make ourselves responsible for ongoing hard work and producing results – at all times. In other words, if you are relaxing, you are not accomplishing anything and that’s bad. In addition to working on promoting my book, I could be working on cleaning some clothes out of my closet, dusting, writing my next book, or beginning dinner. In other words, sitting on my chair with only my thoughts for entertainment was a mistake and something inherently negative.

Clearly, I need to redo this type of thinking and allow myself the ability to do nothing without benefit of guilt. But before I do so, I will still need to persuade myself that the Protestant ethic as I interpret it is obsolete or irrelevant.  I’m pretty certain that demanding activity and energy from myself is a reasonable expectation. But maybe, ethics, Protestant or otherwise, can and should be suspended in deference to peace of mind and self-preservation. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

The right thing

One of the expressions that I use constantly, both inside the classroom and in the rest of the world, is that you never need to apologize for doing the right thing. I have dedicated quite a bit of my thoughts to this subject. Near as I can tell, I created it while many have issued variations of it throughout history.

Sometimes, doing the right thing is much more difficult than doing what’s easy or convenient or undetectable. This may be taking responsibility for an action that wasn’t necessarily committed by you, for the sake of leaving another party blameless. If, for instance, you are in a parking lot and see someone accidentally drop some trash, you pick up said trash and dispose of it. Or a child leaves the classroom door open and you suggest that maybe it was your omission.

This doesn’t mean that you need to continue exempting others from the actions that they completed; it’s simply taking the blame for some liabilities that may have a negative impact on the one involved.

In other cases, while it may seem unusual to refrain from apologizing for doing the right thing, sometimes our beliefs drive those decisions. You contribute to the political party of your choice when those closest to you support the other party. Or you vote for the candidate of your choice while others hold that candidate in low esteem. Being true to your principles is the process of doing the right thing.

All of this is the same as not apologizing to any one at any time for being who you are. It doesn’t matter how you got there, how many feel otherwise or what you excluded to be in the position that you occupy. Doing the right thing is as personal a choice as there is, not subject to justification or rationalization. Always do what you feel is the best choice and most likely, it will be the morally and philosophically correct path to take. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Two papas – a tale of impossible Holocaust survival

Following is the synopsis of my new book, released this week. Book is available in paperback or Kindle format. If you enjoy the book, I will greatly appreciate your writing a review and sending the link to someone you know with whom you want to share my work. Here is the link:

Two papas: a tale of impossible Holocaust survival.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/BO8G3PGK41/ref=cm_cm_sw_r_sms_api_XUPpFb3XK9JNX

Two papas – tale of impossible Holocaust survivals is a twentieth-century story of hope, determination and vision. A baby girl is born in a Nazi death camp and she is hidden and raised by her two papas. They live through their Treblinka imprisonment and escape to begin a new life. Her partner will spend two years in a Warsaw attic to avoid Nazis who have destroyed the Warsaw Ghetto, making the city unsafe for Jews. Finally, they meet and find love in Soviet-occupied Warsaw. Together they relocate to Israel and create a family in settings that are removed from hate, oppression and terror. Their survivals become a tribute to faith in God, the powerful will to prevail and strength of the human spirit.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Editors

One of my greatest amusements or frustrations is seeing how many typographical or grammatical mistakes prevail in the world. As an editor and writer, I confess to being more aware and potentially more sensitive. But almost daily, I see areas where the general public should employ the services of an editor and do not, for reasons I will never understand.

A very good one had to do with two celebrities who have been extremely public about their relationship. The article described them as being, “…attacked at the hip.” While that conjures some interesting images, it is clear that they were attached, not attacked.

One of the local TV news stations has come up with some interesting mistakes. They described a nearby community as “Bernallilo” instead of the correct “Bernalillo” and I am certain that the locals of that community were not happy.

And in another case, I saw some news coverage of a local movement that described a “Buisness” instead of “Business” that was open. Do any of these have lasting significance? Probably not. But every time I see one, I think of my dad’s favorite statement, “Any job worth doing is worth doing right.” Another local one that I just saw was the blatantly incorrect use of the objective case when the subjective case was needed: “To whomever was shooting off fireworks.”

If you are one of those who are shy or tentative or disinterested enough to enlist the services of a competent editor, I wish you all the best. I don’t know about you, but I have no interest in releasing something that says I was not careful or thorough or concerned. My services are always available to you, as are thousands of other editors who have become readily available, thanks to online access.

Another worthwhile expression crosses my mind: You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. If you take the extra minute and dollars to see that your work is accurate, you will make a first impression that is editorially correct. That must be worth something. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

To sleep, perchance to dream

To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come – Hamlet

 William Shakespeare

Most mornings, I don’t wake up feeling Shakespearean. When I do, I find it to be a good idea to determine why – both for the wisdom inherent to feeling that way and to find a way to share that wisdom. In this case, the quote refers to Hamlet considering suicide – a concept that has no relevance to me whatsoever. But it’s a good exercise in spending a few minutes of my day in reflecting on he who used language more fluently than anyone before or since.

None of my training as an educator or a writer has enabled me to do legitimate dream analysis. Because of that, I always attempt an amateur version of it. For the sake of simplicity, we can delete the dark, suicidal message of this quote and simply think of dreaming.

My most recent and important analysis concerned a dream about meeting with a publishing committee about the book that has been my focus and priority for over a year. This was the essence of the dream – the committee said they liked the plot but I need to work on other components and they would publish.

What does all of this mean, you ask? For one, I’m thinking that whatever occupies my daytime hours will appear when I sleep. That is not a message to stop thinking about my book. Most likely, that won’t happen until it’s published. But in some way, it tells me that I am on the right track, maybe to worry less about its reality.

In no way am I suggesting that we do our own dream interpretation. We have a responsibility to think positive as often as possible. It may be awake or asleep. And that inspires us to plan for success as one of the best choices available.

The objective for the book has always been to educate and inspire. Whether that will affect one person or many is really out of my control. When I am ready to authorize publication, I will be certain that I have written, edited and dreamed enough for it to be everything I want it to be. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Seize the day

It took only three or four minutes to write and send the email and I found myself wondering why it had taken me so long to dedicate that small sliver of time. Thankfully, I sent my most recent blog to my rabbi, the man who had more influence on my life than anyone before or since, other than my parents.

Not surprisingly, he responded within several hours and by doing so, made me happier than I can remember feeling about any email. In his honor, I will receive his return correspondence strictly as a learning event, rather than feeling guilt or regret that I waited so long.

You never need an excuse or justification to re-establish contact with someone you value. The opportunity to make a huge positive impact on someone is staggering. If you have doubts, think about someone with whom you haven’t recently engaged and imagine how glad you would be to hear from him or her. Return that feeling by making the first step toward communicating.

Once you have identified the recipient of your letter, email or text, don’t load that with reminders of how long it has been since the two of you have spoken. Taking responsibility for that hiatus will feel much better than handing it off to another. And I recommend that you make the message positive rather than negative. Your frustration with the quarantine is universal and boring. It’s old news and probably not worth sharing. A new hobby, family event or simple celebration of life will be much more joyous to receive (and to send).

As you’ve heard many times from many sources, today is the only certainty and tomorrow is guaranteed to no-one. If you have a person in your past or present who would be enhanced in any way by hearing from you, make it happen today.

From this desk, I will send more emails to my rabbi and others whom I treasure. I’m hoping to be able to do so tomorrow but I have no way to be certain that it will be a reality. It is time to seize the only day that is truly mine.  Shalom.