Saturday, March 03, 2007

The God of Small Things

I don't really believe in one god per se, but I do believe in a higher power, an invisible hand that guides us along the meandering roads that determine our lives.

I place great stock in coincidences and believe that in almost every coincidental event or encounter, meaning can be extracted—whether it's something trivial or something life-changing. Think about those people who overslept and missed their subway that ran directly under the World Trade Center on 9/11. (My brother's good friend was such a person.)

I think coincidences are so important, in fact, that I think there should be a new word for them that conveys their profundity.

One of my main themes of this blog is that life is too short not to do what makes you happy. It's too short to sit in an office for 12 hours a day doing something you are not passionate about. Then again, some people are born without passions, so perhaps they are the correct beings to work office jobs.

Anyway, what to make of these latest coincidences that have unfolded in the past 24 hours?

In part due to my new "no day but today" mindset, the soundtrack of my life here at home has been the Broadway show Rent. I listen to it when I write, when I shower and, religiously, when I stretch. I haven't been keeping up with the meditation thing, but when I'm stretching and listening to Rent, I essentially am meditating. For those of you living under a rock who don't know the basic plot of Rent: Artists on the Lower East Side struggle with love, drugs, poverty, AIDS, corporate America, fitting in and producing meaningful projects by using their own differing creative talents. Some people find the show/movie depressing; I find it truly inspirational. Because essentially, the moral of the story is, "Do what you love. Love what you do. Never give up on your dreams. Life is short."

Yesterday was my dad's father's Yahrtzeit—the anniversary of his death—and in Judaism, we go to synagogue that night to honor our loved ones' lives.

I didn't know my grandfather that well; he died when I was in 7th grade. My memories of him are mainly from the nursing home. Before services, my dad called upstairs to me,

"Steph, come look at this! Hurry!"

I went downstairs and found him in front of the flat-screen, watching with glee a grainy, old video set to music. The little four-year-old boy looked familiar.

"Is that you," I asked, bewildered. My dad is sometimes on the news, but I couldn't imagine why he would be on TV as a child.

Turns out, dad took many of his very old childhood videos and had them digitally remastered.

"Um, was this just a coincidence that you got them back today, on the anniversary of poppy's death?"

"Yeah, isn't that weird?"

Indeed, weird. My dad was jubilant watching himself, his parents, his siblings, his dogs and his childhood friends, many of whom are still his best buddies, some of whom are dead or sick now.

Then we went to services. The sermon, by our very liberal and slightly off-kilter rabbi, turned out to be about doing what you love, following your heart and devoting yourself to what you were put on this earth to do. Again, weird. In Rabbi Matt's case, it's studying the Torah. In my case, it's writing and creating art. I thought this sermon couldn't come at a more opportune time, when my parents think that just because I sit at my computer all-day I am doing nothing. In fact, I am doing what I feel I was put on this earth to do. And if book publishers, magazine editors or whomever disagree—fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. (Except you guys, who obviously keep reading for some reason or another.)

As if that weren't enough . . . I stayed in last night to finish an artistic project I'm working on. At like 11 p.m. I'm scrolling through the 500 channels and what do I find on Encore? Rent, the movie. Some days more than others, you really can feel that invisible hand.

Now, I want to YouTube this video of my dad's but I've never YouTubed and I have the DVD but can't figure out how to do it. Any help would much be appreciated. It's a truly lovely video.