By Rivka Perlman

January 6, 2012

There’s a Bull in the China Shop!



Live from the airport:

Last night I got a call from my sister that a close relative had a serious scare and needed to be hospitalized. She said “everything’s okay, he just wanted you to know that he had a procedure but he’s fine.
Okay, here’s what I heard “He’s in the hospital.” Period.

That he was okay, registered, but I still needed to be there. Never mind that I have a job and a house full of kids. Somehow I was going to get there, I had to. My adrenaline was pumping.
Here’s a little background info; dropping everything to go, may be an ordeal for some, but me, I actually like  last-minute plans.

There’s something about wanting something now and getting it that’s exciting. There’s some kind of perverse freedom in not being tied down. And its a  lot more fun!

The thing is, none of that works real well when you’re trying to be a loving, present, balanced person.
I’ve come to learn – and this really bugs me – but its true; that every action has a price and you have to asses if the price is worth it. Even a well-meaning action.
It was only a few weeks ago that I said to my husband after Shabbos, “I want to take the kids to Cleveland to visit my parents.”
“Uh hu”
I had it all worked out. I really had good reasons! If I didn’t make the time to see them, we would never have time. And we can’t wait until its convenient to take a trip b/c face it, it’s never convenient. And it would be quality time with the kids. And I’m ready to drive the 6 hours myself!
I can be SO sure I’m right. I’ve got all the reasons.

Does that ever happen to you? Have you ever done “the bull in the china shop” routine? That’s where you set your agenda and anyone who gets in your way better move aside. I’ve been there. It’s when you’re so sure that you know better. It’s when you end up fighting for a position that really could have been discussed calmly, except there’s not a calm bone in you at that moment. It’s when you’re so wrapped up in what you think that you don’t pause to ask, “What does G-d think?”  And it’s so close to healthy conviction that it’s easy to mistake it for something good.


But if there’s one thing I really want, it’s to not wake up in 50 years with all the same issues! And that means I have to look at this tendency.
So I paused, trying to tame the self-righteous bull and to think about how my going would affect the larger picture; to do the dreaded assessment.

My son would miss his speech therapy appointment. My husband would have double the responsibilities for the day. My housework would be left undone. I’d come back exhausted with Chanuka 2 days away and a party and a Chanuka Retreat to plan.
You would think it’s a no brainer but it took actual energy for me to say, “I’m not going.”
So today when I woke up wanting to catch a plane, I had dread in my heart. “On no ,I just  know I wont be able too. It’s my crazy bull in the china shop driving me again”

And then the rebel came “Why can’t I go? I have to go. So what if I’ve got things to do” I had a thought of calling up my husband at work and just letting him know that it was an emergency and I had to go. But I”m learning…..
So instead I drove over to his office and told him what I wanted and waited. I waited for his response. Would he be okay without me? Was it the right move? Would we manage with carpool?

I waited, because in those moments of waiting were  kernels of choice that were popping in every direction.
I waited because bulls never wait when they’re charging through. And by the simple act of being willing to take in a another point of view I reigned in the bull.

And when we decided I should go, I felt good. A peaceful feeling came over me as I drove to the airport. Being willing to see outside my own desires gave me a chance at finding out the real right thing to do.

Imagine there’s a circle right here on the screen. That circle represents your world. There’s you, a little stick figure, off to one side viewing your world. What you see basically looks like a slice of pizza. A little slice of the big picture is all you get when you stay within your own narrow vision.

But if you let go of your stance and humble yourself to walk into G-d’s will, you land up in the middle of the pie, with plenty of room to look around and see all the possibilities that are out there. You begin to see other people and their needs and see yourself more objectively. And the serenity that follows is more than worth all the effort it took to get there.

 From a Breslov Book of Prayers

G-d, I want
To be so many things,
To do so much,
To achieve so endlessly
But can anyone
Be everything,
Do everything,
Have everything?
You alone understand
The fragile balance of my soul.
You’ve invested in me
The potential
To make of that balance
A perfect creation.
Now help me fashion myself
Into just such a creation,
“In accordance with Your will

Let me know I’m not alone. Do you ever find yourself struggling with balance and impulsiveness? – Rivka Malka

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