Sunday, November 21, 2010

Press the "Shuffle" button

That song was stuck in my head again. My head swayed gently to the melody, until I got up to the part where I couldn’t remember the words. Or the tune for that matter. Wait, how did it go next? Where did I even hear that song, I wondered. It was a Jewish song so I knew I couldn’t have heard it anywhere. It kept getting stuck my head, but I only knew part of the song. Don’t you hate it when that happens? I kept desperately trying to remember how it might go next, or at least to remember where I heard it so I could listen to it again. That way it could get stuck in my head properly and not all choppy. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how the song went. And it might not have bothered me quite so much, but it kept getting stuck in my head and though I tried pretty hard, I could not get it out!

Fast forward a few weeks.

I was sitting on the floor in the corner of my room, taking a break by relaxing and listening to music. I had put my iPod on shuffle, letting myself be surprised by whatever song was randomly selected. And that’s when it came on. That song! I opened my eyes and sat up alarmed and stared down at my iPod in shock. There it was! The song that had been stuck in my head for weeks, which it turned out was on an old Miami Boys Choir CD that I had purchased ages ago, and apparently hadn’t listened to very much. A huge smile involuntarily spread across my face, and I could not stop grinning. I listened attentively as the song played through, taking in each note, each word as though it was just for me. There are many songs that make me happy, but I can’t put into words the intense joy and pleasure I received from listening to that song.

It was not because the song was such a great song. The song is relatively decent, but not incredible. What was amazing was the discovery that the song that I spent so much time searching for, was in fact something that I already had, it was already in my possession. I longed to hear the song again so badly, only to realize that it was already on my iPod! My search was over. It had been bothering me so much, and now, not only did I get to hear the entire song to hear how the rest of it went, but I could listen to it over and over and over. Which of course I did.

This happened a long time ago, but I put my iPod on shuffle recently and this song came up, and it reminded me of how happy I was when I heard it that time. Every time I hear that song I remember how intensely happy I was at that moment and the potential intense happiness that occurs when you discover you already have what you want. When you appreciate something that belongs to you, and you don’t have to go searching for it or chasing it down, but it belongs to you, it is a great feeling. It can be painful to want something intensely, but not be able to have it. The reverse is simply wonderful. Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have. We forget how much we would want it if we didn’t have it, whether it is something significant such as our health or food to eat and clothes to wear, or whether it is something insignificant such as a favorite mug that we assign value to.

At the beginning of the book “Battle Plans,” by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller and Sara Yocheved Rigler (a great book by the way, which I highly recommend!), a book about how to fight your Yetzer Harah, they quote the Maharal who says that the Yetzer Harah is the voice that tells you, “You don’t have what you need.” The Yetzer Harah emphasizes that something is lacking in your life, and so you try to fill that lack inappropriately and so you sin. They write that one solution to this problem is to realize that Hashem has given you everything you need. I thought this was a great point, and have found it to be true. I find that when I focus on what is missing in my life I’m not as happy as when I focus on all the amazing things that Baruch Hashem are in my life.

A lesson I learned was that sometimes we need to put our mind on “shuffle.” We need to dig through to find the things we take for granted, to try to seek out the positive, instead of playing the same songs that we always listen to, focusing on the same negative thoughts over and over. The good thoughts are in there somewhere, we just have to find them, although sometimes they show up when we expect it the least.


  1. Great post. I remember reading something similar by S.Y. Rigler on, IIRC.

    Thanks :-).

  2. Very inspiring and true! Thank you so much for sharing.
    It's amazing what lessons we can draw out from "regular occurences" in our daily lives.
    Sometimes when I've overly positive, I feel like I'm just lying to myself, though. But that feeling, too, is the yetzer hara. B'simcha and b'machshava have the same letters just rearranged--- b/c happiness is a choice and all up to us! It just depends on our outlooks and thoughts. :)

  3. Sun inside Rain- I love Sara Yocheved Rigler's articles...I will have to try to find that one!

    Sefardi Gal- I know what you mean about lying to yourself. There were times when I forced myself to pretend to be happy when I wasn't, and I supressed my feelings and it wasn't good. The key is to acknowledge how you feel and accept that you are not happy and then to try and reinforce positive thoughts in your mind until you feel them. That is very hard, and a lot harder than simply thinking positive thoughts. Also, when you're sad, it's really difficult to remember that you can get yourself out of it cause sometimes it seems impossible.


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