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There is life.

Life is that every day monotony of chores and work, cleaning and shopping, running and sleeping, debts and responsibility.

And then there is living.

Living, I love you!

It is when your soul is free; when your body is a slave to your soul and not the opposite. Those blessed moments of drinking coffee on the patio with friends, listening to music, meditating, exercising, loving, dancing and celebrating those moments when life lessens its death grip on you and allows you, even if only for a moment, to feel free.

Living is the reason that I tolerate life.

We work hard and struggle with our daily responsibilities for the simple god damn reason to be able to live our lives.

My grandfather lived by the basic principle of life that he felt encouraged the nurturing of happiness and satisfaction in our lives:

“If you can’t do what you like then like what you do.”

He died of a heart attack when I was 12 after servicing a community as their Rabbi for 36 years. He loved being a Rabbi but it took its toll on him. Life was different then. I know that. Still I used to wonder if maybe it is indeed possible to like what we do and maybe (oh just maybe God) to do what we like? Does one really need to be exclusive of the other?

My sister Deena is an inspiring example to all of us Humanoids on knowing how to live life. She has travelled the world over, to Japan, Vancouver and back to Israel again all with the basic life goal of doing what rocks her world. Recently she quit a stable job to pursue her love of writing even further. Life isn’t dictating it’s rules to her; she is dictating her rules for living.

Freedom of speech.

Freedom of religion.

Freedom to be.

We are free and not free. Why is it that we tend to live our lives in a self-induced state of bondage?

This concept is painfully real in Adam Baker’s TedxTalk where he explains his own journey towards freedom.

In his video he quotes the following:

“There are thousands and thousands of people out there living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours, at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

-Nigel Marsh

I don’t have the freedom to open the uncertainty door like my sister does. I know that. Many of us don’t. I, personally, look after 5 kids who need me and need the simple basics such as food in the fridge, heating, clothing, education, shoes and oh so much more than just the basics. Sometimes it becomes so much that the responsibility hurts.

That’s when I make sure to look around and count my blessings. Counting blessings is liberating.

My kids.

My work.

My family.

My health.

My home.

Check check and check. Blessings counted.

All such enormous blessings that I am terrified to ever take any one of them for granted. Those blessings are all part of what signify a certain part of my personal freedom.

It also seems to be that I DO love what I do. Maybe it’s because I have been raised, instilled and constantly surrounded with the basic principles of positive thinking and personal responsibility or maybe it’s just because my life really is so freaking wonderful. Whatever the reason, I make sure to like what I do because what I do is good. Truth.

Positive attitude rules! So before you can let the good in, you need to let the bad out, or to quote Bob Newhart “Stop it!”

The first step is to STOP giving a rat’s ass about what anyone thinks. Make sure you like what you see in the mirror. Live according to your own rules. Our personal accountability is oh so personal. You are the one who lays your head on your own pillow every night; No one else, just you. Remember that.

Secondly, STOP doing the “right” thing. Do the good thing. Do what is good for you, your family, your kids and your world. Going to pray in synagogue is the right thing. Playing cops and robbers with your boys in the living room is the good thing. I do the right thing too sometimes. Trust me. I do it even if it means that I am like a little sulking kid who is forced to wear boots in the rain. But I do it because sometimes I just have to. It’s not the default plan but it’s a part of the overall plan.

Thirdly, STOP wasting time, money, energy on the wrong things. Remember that our resources are limited. Make the most of the time you have. The world is a gym so save the money you spend on those ridiculous monthly health-club memberships and go for a walk. Don’t keep upgrading your life with purchases that you don’t really need. Don’t spend time around negativity and do allow the people who make you soar to be a part of your life.

It took me time. A lot of time. But I did it. I finally figured out how to live and how to be free.

It is a constant, never ending battle but it is worth it.

Stop being a slave to life and start living.

(Originally published on the Times of Israel March 14, 2013)