One day I lost my iPod cable. I had left it on a hotel nightstand, curled next to the phone. But when I called the hotel, they said that they couldn't find it. And then I began to panic. I couldn't find a store in Israel that carried the missing cable. Not one store. And that’s when I realized that I was addicted to my iPod. Without my downloaded classes I couldn't do any chores. Without my songs, I couldn't run.
Then I realized the deeper problem: It was so quiet, I could actually think. And I wasn't used to thinking much anymore. With a house full of children, a job, and my daily workout routine, I had managed to actually stop thinking!
Then the hotel called to say they had found the iPod cable and that it would reach me in few days. That's when I realized I had also created a life that wasn't conducive to waiting, either. With all of our instant messages, instant meals and my naturally impatient personality, I didn't like waiting. For anything. How was I supposed to get through the next few days with no music and no classes?
I stared down at my uncharged iPod in dismay, and began to go through what I now call "iPod withdrawal syndrome." This is characterized by long periods of silence broken up by unfamiliar, sometimes unwanted thoughts. Like: Who am I? Am I accomplishing what I set out to do with my life? And if I'm not, what is holding me back? And if I consider myself a relatively spiritual person, then why is it so hard for me to wait?
This tiny cable may be so small that the cleaning staff couldn't find it, but without it, the iPod won't work. And I began to think about how this cable is like the link to meaning in our lives. For example, in our relationships with our spouses and children, we can create all the external routines and furnishings of a happy home, but if we forget the deeper purpose of building our homes, then we begin to feel disconnected. When we work, we can go through a whole list of tasks, but if we forget why we're working in the first place, then all the projects are just empty shells.
And just like my tiny iPod cable, the deeper goals behind our actions can seldom be seen. They are so subtle and need constant re-examination. Who are we? Why are we alive? What kind of homes are we trying to build? Where are we going? The answers to these questions give life to everything that we do, and re-examining them is crucial to recharging our lives.
The Passover Connection
In Egypt, the Jewish people had sunk to the last level of disconnection, the 49th level of impurity. But there was still that tiny, invisible cable of purpose left. When we called out to God with all of our hearts to save us, that last line of meaning re-charged our souls. On a very deep level we still knew who we were and where we wanted to go. We didn't even know the words to express our yearning, but we knew enough to cry. We knew enough to ask for re-connection. We knew that the greatest pain was distance from meaning, and so we uttered a wordless prayer to be re-connected with our true destinies.
Ever since my first child was born many years ago, I think of Seder night as the heady moments right after birth. (After all, the Sages explain that our years in Egypt were like a pregnancy, and the Exodus was the birth of the Jewish nation.) We can feel the freedom of someone one who has patiently hung onto that umbilical cord of connection even in the dark, silent womb. We hold the baby that we suffered for, and we realize that our pain was not only meaningful, but worth every second of discomfort.
On Seder night we hold a cable that re-charges our lives as we speak about our own personal redemptions. We see how every experience in our life was a crucial part of our growth. We realize that every detail of life has a purpose and brings us closer to the goal.
What I remember most vividly from the Seders of my childhood is the way my whole family lit up when we reached the song “Dayeinu.” When I was little I always thought that the reason everyone seemed to love that particular song was because it had such a catchy tune. But as I started to understand the words, I realized that my grandparents and great grandparents were focused on the meaning of the song. They would sit around the long, beautiful table covered with the snow white cloth, and their faces would glow with joy. If He would have just brought us out of Egypt, it would have been enough. If He would have just given us the Shabbos, it would have been enough…Everything is enough.
I couldn’t understand the sparkle in my grandmother’s eyes as she sang these lines, because I didn’t see how it would be have been enough for God to just take us out of Egypt. Why was that enough? But each year, I understand these words better. If we are deeply connected with our ultimate goals, then every experience that we have is in itself enough. Even if we can’t see the next step in our journeys we can appreciate the meaning of where we are now. And in the dark, silent moments when we are lost and confused, we can remember that even if we only move one more step out of our own constraints, it is enough to begin the process of re-charging our lives.