Consider for a moment that your story is an important one and that you’re the only one who can tell it.

Only you know how you continue to struggle or how you’ve overcome your struggles, or both. Your story will help someone else find their way, or get through something they think is unbearable, or simply escape from real life for a little while.

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How Do We Know That What Happens To Us Isn’t Good?

I spend more time than I would like wondering what will happen. I want control of not only my input but the outcome. Yet when I look back at my life sometimes I see that not getting what I want has been the best thing for me.

A few years ago there was a job I wanted. It would not have paid enough for me to cut back on freelancing, but I thought it would be a steppingstone in my career.

Today I thank G-d that I didn’t get it. I wouldn’t have completed Sinners and the Sea. At least not anytime soon.

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When I find myself getting overly invested in what I think should happen, the best spiritual medicine for me is reading this short-short by Amy Hempel. I hope it helps you too.

A Little Lump

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a rabbi talk about God from a Kabbalistic perspective. God as Ein Sof. Ein meaning “without,” Sof meaning “limit.” The God that Rabbi Glaser spoke of was one I’ve always wanted and have struggled to believe exists, a God that is love. I’ve heard “God is love” so many times it’s like water off a duck’s back. God manifests in the goodness between people, etc. But at the end of the lecture he said something that stuck with me. He said that there is enough love in the world, but we don’t let it in.

The Monday before I’d gone to the doctor for an annual physical. During the breast exam the doctor had put my hand on my breast. My left hand was behind my head, making me think I must look rather glamorous, and he brought the right one across my body, below my nipple, and moved it in a circular motion. “Do you feel that?” he asked.

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I assumed he was showing me how to do a breast self exam. “Yes, use a circular motion.”

“Do you feel that little bead there?”

It still didn’t register that something was wrong. Breasts aren’t always perfectly smooth and I’ve always been healthy. “Yes,” I said.

He left the room and came back with a piece of paper titled Diagnostic Breast Imaging Physician Order.

I’ll just get this over with, I thought, I’ll do it without hardly noticing. I’ll be untouched by it.

But I wanted someone to care. I told my friend Inna and she offered to go with me. “No, that’s not necessary,” I said immediately, instinctively. Several other friends offered and I said no to all of them.

The Sunday after listening to the rabbi’s talk I was in yoga lying on my back in Final Savasana and I started thinking of Ein Sof. I splayed my arms out and felt, as the cliché goes, embraced by the light. I lay there after everyone else had said Namaste and put away their mats.

I told Inna I wanted her to come to my appointments. And she did. To the mammogram and the ultrasound and the biopsy. In the waiting room we told dark jokes and drank tea and laughed so hard we scared the other women in white robes and surprised the radiologist who said uncertainly, “It’s good you guys are still in good spirits.”

The day after the biopsy the doctor called to say it was benign, it was nothing. I had a moment of relief followed by thoughts of the women I know whose ordeal with breast lumps didn’t end this easily. My own ordeal is over but it wasn’t nothing. I wasn’t untouched. I’d been given the opportunity to feel some of the limitless goodness in the world. I’m grateful I was able to let it in.