In my last post “Oh My Papa”, I told of the man my Father was, his strength, attitude, and approach to life on the occasion of his having just passed.
Since then I have been taking trips down memory lane. Some of that was done through viewing old pictures I found in going through his home.
In looking at some of the old pictures I was profoundly struck by something in particular that I wish to share. It is a lesson for all people, on dealing with life’s struggles.
I saw pictures of my parents and some relatives, all Holocaust survivors, in a displaced persons camp in Italy, where my parents met after the war, and some pictures of them soon after they arrived in America.
What struck me, was that in all of those pictures, they were smiling and looked happy. If one didn’t know their story, one would not have been able to guess what they had just experienced. To most of us, it is unimaginable to be smiling having just endured the unendurable and unimaginable.
What I saw in those pictures and learned from watching my Parents, was that they and all Holocaust survivors carry the weight of their past suffering with them all of the time, yet they are strong enough to continue to move forward. To move forward to a better life. They came to America and other places and built lives. They got married, had children, served the community, gave charity, and made a living.
They were able to do this because consciously or un, they believed that their life had a purpose and meaning. They had faith and hope. If they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t have survived in the first place.
This is a powerful lesson and reminder for all.
P.S. This Thursday, April 16, 2015 is Yom HaShoah, the annual Holocaust Remembrance day
P.P.S. This strength, faith, and hope is what Dr. Viktor Frankl witnessed when he was in Auschwitz and wrote about in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”.
Sam Fox, My Father, A Holocaust Survivor
1929 – 2015
I wish to share with you some of the many lessons I was privileged to learn from my Father.
When asked by my Brother, “What is the secret to a successful and happy life?”, despite having experienced the Holocaust, in which he lost his parents and five siblings….despite then sitting in a wheelchair because of a paralyzing stroke….. despite that his wife, my Mother, was dying in the other room…..He said
“In life some people have it easy and make it hard and some people have it hard and make it easy”
The value of charity
“When I first came to America I had nothing, yet I always gave to charity. When I did, it always made me feel rich.” – from an acceptance speech upon receiving an award
The value of the pursuit of good
“The pursuit of the good is the noblest of character builders and one of the sources of true gratification”. There are other things in life besides self-interest. Personal involvement in others challenges, in community affairs are the greatest sources of personal achievement and success. Too many people refuse to understand what it means to be involved and to help others. They are truly missing something. There is nothing as gratifying and self-fulfilling as helping others. Why don’t you try it? If you do, I can assure you that you will arrive at a similar conclusion. Try it, you will like it”. – from another acceptance speech upon receiving an award
These were just some of his words. The valuable lessons learned by all who had the privilege of knowing him, came from watching him turn those words into deeds.
*Listen to Eddie Fisher’s beautiful song
Words are indeed powerful.
“Words should be weighed, not counted.” – A Jewish Saying*
We know of and should constantly be aware of, the impact that the words we say to and about others can have. It’s also very important to consider the impact of the words we say to ourselves and about ourselves . Our Inner Speak (see the Inner Speak series here).
What do you say to yourself when you strike out in your social life, or strike out in your dating, or strike out in a job search, or….
Do you say to yourself things like “I’m a loser”, or “I’m no good”, or……. If you do that, then you will continue to strike out. This approach becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
If you say to yourself, “I’m better than this”, or “I can and will do better, or….. Then you are on your way to getting many hits.
Saying to yourself “What’s wrong with me” (a negative) is different than saying “Am I doing something wrong” (a positive).
“You become what you think, even if you don’t think so.” – Dr. Morris Mandel
The next step to improve your chances of getting a hit, is looking to see if you are indeed doing something wrong and if so, what you might be doing wrong. Just like a batter in baseball who is having a bad hitting streak, he would ask himself and/or a coach to look at his stance, his swing, or is it just that he’s swinging at bad pitches. Then once identified, correcting and improving it.
Always asking if you are doing something wrong when you’re not getting the results you want is a positive. You are saying to yourself that you can, want to, and will improve.
Believe in yourself and your possibilities. If you don’t, no one else will. If you don’t, why should they?
You cannot climb your mountain by keeping or pushing yourself down.
Heart and Soul
*see the “Words should be weighed, not counted” series here.
For those of you who didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, here are some thoughts on your search for your soul mate. This may not apply to you, but it does to someone you know.
Let’s go back to the “Life As Your Coach” concept and apply it to dating.
Life as Your Coach, or your ultimate personal trainer G-d, will send you tests and struggles (drills and exercises) all designed to help you find the you, you are meant to be. What is sent your way may not be what you want, but what your coach knows you need. He knows you and knows your strengths and weaknesses. He will, over time, send you these tests designed to improve upon your strengths and turn your weaknesses into strengths. Viewed this way, allows you to accept that these tests are for your good.
How does this apply to dating? One of the things that Life as Your Coach is preparing you for, is your soul mate.
Let’s use the sport of Boxing as a metaphor again to help explain.
A boxing coach will have you do all sorts of drills and exercises, designed for you, to prepare you to enter the ring. He knows you and what specifically it takes to get you ready. When ready, he will have you spar or fight many different kinds of opponents. All of the experiences and all you learn from these opponents, will make you a better boxer and prepare you to go pro. The longer it takes you to learn (that’s up to you), the longer it takes before the coach let’s you go pro.
In dating, life as your coach, will send you all kinds of people to meet and date. You will date the good, the bad, and the ugly. You might meet a frog, kiss it and hope it becomes a prince or princess. You might meet what you think is a prince or princess and find out it’s really a frog, then you kiss it and it’s still a frog. All of these people, dates, and experiences are meant to make you kinder, more sensitive, a more giving partner, and prepare you for your Ultimate Match (pun intended).
Keep this in mind……..Your Ultimate Match, your soul mate, is also going through the same type of preparation at the same time, getting ready to meet you.
Like Michael Buble’s song says “I Haven’t Met You Yet”. If you haven’t met yet, it’s because you’re not ready YET!! Keep your heart open and you will be!!
Heart and Soul
With Valentine’s Day approaching, here is a thought on love and romantic relationships.
A couple are arguing, with one party complaining that the other treats them poorly and says “you treat me like a dog”. The correct response is “you should be so lucky”.
The relationship between a dog and it’s owner can be a lesson for us all in how we treat the humans we have, or wish to have a relationship with.
When I was a young man my family had a dog named Butch. My Father once said this about Butch, “When I come home from work, Butch is always happy to see me, no matter what kind of day Butch had”.
In other words, a dog loves it’s owner unconditionally, not just or only when it feels like it.
Dog owners love their dogs unconditionally also. They lovingly give and care for their dogs no matter what the owners life was like before they got the dog, or what is going on presently.
Why does one love their dog unconditionally, yet has trouble doing that with the humans in their life? Dog owners love their dogs unconditionally even though they have to pick up their poop, yet they can’t pick up the poop of the humans in their life (this is a metaphor!). Why is that?
Does the dog love it’s owner unconditionally because it knows it’s loved unconditionally, or the other way around, or both?
“Any love that is dependent on something — when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on any thing never ceases…” – Ethics of the Fathers, 5:16
Here are some other quotes on love to ponder
“I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me” – Song of Songs 6:3
“Love is a special word, and I use it only when I mean it. You say the word too much and it becomes cheap.” – Ray Charles
“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” – Jalal ad-Din Rumi
“Love comes unseen; we only see it go.” – Austin Dobson
Click on the titles below to read some previously published thoughts and quotes on having, keeping, and finding love
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”
Why couldn’t all the king’s horses and all the king’s men put Humpty back together again?
First, Humpty had to want to be put back together again. Secondly, and most importantly, only Humpty could put himself back together again.
Everyone else could lend a supporting hand, an uplifting hand, be a cheerleading section, but it was all up to Humpty. Humpty could continue to be a Dumpty, or he could choose to be an Upty!!
We all sometimes stumble, we all sometimes fall, and we all sometimes get knocked down. What you do when that happens determines where you go and you determine the determining.
“Why do we fall- so we can learn to pick ourselves up.” – from Batman Begins
“The righteous may fall seven times, but they always rise again.” – King Solomon Proverbs
If you were a boxer and got knocked to the mat, you might say to yourself (consciously or un) “if I stay down I can’t get hit again”. That is the self-preservation instinct born of fear, protecting you from getting hurt again. The odds of winning are zero if you stay down.
The ultimate self-preservation instinct should be to get back up again in order to fight for the life you want. How much do you desire that life? How hard are you willing to fight for it?
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair
Know that you will fall or get knocked down again. Accept that and understand that it’s part of preparing and learning. The trick is to train, learn, and prepare yourself so that each time, you not only get back up, but you get back up quicker.
Heart and Soul
You have probably heard about the amazing and inspiring feat of Rob Konrad, a former Miami Dolphins Fullback. He was fishing off of his boat alone, about nine miles from shore when he was suddenly thrown overboard at night without a life vest.. He swam the nine miles for sixteen hours. A seemingly superhuman feat.
How and why did he not give up? Yes, he is a trained professional athlete, but not a good swimmer. The key was he had a purpose, he had/has something and someones to live for. He said he prayed for help, thought of his family with wife, Tammy, and two daughters, eight and 10. Then he said to himself, “Look, I’m not dying tonight and I’m going to make it to shore”.
In “Man’s Search For Meaning”*, this is what the author, Dr. Viktor Frankl witnessed when he as a Jew was in Auschwitz.
He saw that even in the most unimaginably extreme circumstances, the will to live comes from having something/someone to live for, and/or a meaning/purpose to their life as yet still unfulfilled.
In your most trying moments search for your meaning. You may not know what is. You may not think there is anyone in your life. If you don’t know it, or think there is anyone as Rob Konrad did know, then try this:
Go fishing. Throw out a fishing line and you will catch it or someone. In plain English, reach out to others. You will be pleasantly surprised that there is always someone who will take your bait, someone who needs what you have to give them.
“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to his life”. – Dr. Viktor Frankl from “Man’s Search For Meaning
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. – Dr. Viktor Frankl from “Man’s Search for Meaning”
Heart and Soul
*If you haven’t read this book…..Do