The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Friday, September 17, 2004

I Am Evil

As you may know, yesterday was Rosh Hashana. Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the Jewish new year--supposedly the day that God either created the world or the day that God created Adam and Eve. Depends on who you ask. Rosh Hashana is followed ten days later by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The ten days in the middle are called the Days of Awe. You are supposed to spend these ten days thinking about all the ways you've screwed up over the past year and, of course, trying to fix all of that. Dented your neighbor's car around 2am in February? Go find him, confess, and say you're sorry. Got change for a $20 when you gave the cashier a $10? Make it right. The stakes are high. God is giving you one last chance to get your name into the Book of Life and Blessings. The alternative is the Book of Death and Misfortunes. I think the choice here is clear.

Although I am not Jewish, I can't help thinking about all the ways that I've been bad this past year. Two big ones stand out. The first is the way I treated my mother after my grandmother's death. I wasn't mean to her, but I kept my distance. I could tell that she wanted to grieve with me. She wanted to comfort me, and she wanted me to comfort her. But I didn't want that. I can't explain to you my history with my mother, but I do not look to her for those things. In fact, I empathetically do not want them from her. After my grandmother's death, I felt like I was walking a tight rope between what she needed and what I needed. I like to think that I did the best I could for her, but a part of me thinks that I was selfish. And let's not forget that commandment: Honor your mother and father.

My next big sin is the way I've treated my friends, Angel and Carrie--Carrie in particular. You may remember them. Carrie was trying to get pregnant the same time I was, only she managed to do so. She's now in her seventh month of pregnancy. Her little boy is due on 10/31. Ever since I found out that she was pregnant, I've pulled sharply away from the friendship. It is so hard for me to be around her. Obviously, she hasn't done a damn thing wrong. But I just can't take seeing her. Again, I've tried to do a tight rope walk. I've tried to spend as much time with her and Angel as I can in order to maintain the friendship, but "as much time as I can" is not very much. We saw them last night, and that was the first time since June or July. I'm messing up another commandment here: You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor's.

Even though, again, I am not Jewish, I've thought about going to my mother and my friend and confessing my sins to them, asking for forgiveness, but I don't think I have it in me. I'm not sure what can come out of it anyway. Will I be fundamentally changed by that experience? Will I turn a corner so that I can care for my mother in that way? Will I stop hurting when I see Carrie because she has what I want? I don't think so. I am inclined to do nothing, except realize that I am a bad person, and I am not willing to do anything about it.

6 Comments:

  • While I think you are overly hard on yourself, as a Jew I appreciate the attempt to embrace the spirit of the holidays. Makes me think of all the times I've earnestly tried to enjoy trimming the x-mass tree and eating those bizarre Cadbury Easter eggs.

    I've got my own Rosh Hashanah post in the works. It will be quite different.

    Anyway, found you through Metrotronic. I enjoyed your writing.

    By Blogger Gonzo, at 10:57 AM, September 17, 2004  

  • Mmmm... Easter candy...

    Oy vey, you're not evil, you're just human. At least that's my perspective. The fact that you recognize that you may have done something bad and want to make it right is a good thing. It doesn't negate what you did, but it's a step in the right direction.

    By Blogger Newell, at 2:31 PM, September 17, 2004  

  • Listen to Newell...those are some great words of advice! Just know that you're not evil.

    By Blogger D.T., at 7:58 PM, September 17, 2004  

  • I think holidays are all too often times that we get caught up in the wrong things. For instance, we usually end up stuck in the groove of being a better (insert religion here) or even worse, we get caught up in getting the best gifts known to man, which more than likely, have nothing to do with the spirit of the season.

    And this is why the older I get, I see why holidays are really for the young.

    By Blogger Janet, at 6:45 PM, September 19, 2004  

  • hjm, Welcome to the Bean Blog. Where's your Rosh Hashana post? Give up on that?

    Newell, I think you're missing the point--which is that I DON'T want to make it right. I realize what I've done wrong, but I do not wish to apologize and therefore get forgiveness. Hence the problem. It's one thing to do bad things without thinking about them. It's another to do them, realize they're wrong, and refuse to correct them.

    DT, It's true, I'm not evil. I went a little overboard with the title. Thanks for the reassurance though.

    Janet, I'm not sure that I am getting caught up in the wrong things in this instance. The difference between Judaism and Christianity--in my opinion--is that the rituals are very directed to adults. They make fun things for kids to do, too, but the holidays seem to be rather thought provoking, unlike Christianity where it's just like, Jesus was born! Let's get presents! Nothing much deeper than that to them, as far as I can see.

    By Blogger Oz, at 4:51 PM, September 20, 2004  

  • I'm with Newell. The fact that you've recognized that you have room for improvement is pretty much all that matters. You didn't set out to hurt anyone. You were simply being human. If we were perfect from the get-go, this whole life thing would have no point.

    Fundamentally, you seem like a good person, so don't beat yourself up over how you have responded to some obviously stressful times in your life over the past year.

    I think every religious holiday can be interpreted in a shallow manner - let's get gifts - or in a more meaningful way. It's all about how people choose to celebrate them. It is sad that so many of our holidays in so many religions have become corrupted by commercialism. It's a lesson I hope my kids appreciate.

    By Blogger Carmi, at 10:42 AM, September 21, 2004  

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