All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 10 August 2008

My Nine(teen) Days

Those of you who know me well (and there aren't that many of you about) are probably aware that beneath my sunny, modern exterior, there lies an intensely religious individual.

I can't help who I am. I can joke, tease and have fun, but, take a moment to look behind the smile and you may be surprised at what you find.

I write all of this because I've just come out of a twenty-five hour fast and I'm probably hallucinating on an unhealthily sugar rush. After all, this is only time (i.e. after a fast) when I'm not ill that I bother to drink tea.

Two cups noch.

So where is all this coming from? Why the philosophy? Why the thoughts? I should just take it easy, enjoy the novelty of feeding and watering myself and let things lie. It has been a long emotional and exhausting day, as I wrote in my last post. Relax Mr Scribbler. Relax!

But I can't do that because my Deeply Religious Insides (TM) are bursting to let forth and I now feel the need to explain my behaviour over the last nine days - and probably to warn all of you out there that we've got another ten days for me to deal with before I can be the warm, fuzzy scribbler that some of you profess to like.

OK, here's a little secret. I don't do stress well. I really don't. It freaks me out. Always has. Always will.

There, I've written it.

So what's new?
Am I different to you?
Do you cope better?

Some explanation is required.

There are two periods of the Jewish calendar that seriously....and I mean seriously...stress me out. They are the Nine Days we've just come through, from Rosh Chodesh Av (the 1st day of the Hebrew month of Av) to Tisha B'av (9th Av) and the ten days that make up the first week of the New Year, from Rosh Hashanah through to Yom Kippur.

As long as I can remember, I've coped pretty disastrously with these nineteen days.

Is it because I dread the upcoming fasts (which nine times out of ten aren't half as bad as I'd imagined) or are my Deeply Religious Insides (TM) troubled by the seriousness of each respective period of time? In other words, am I freaking out because I fear that I've done something wrong and I will exact divine retribution during this period or beyond? Or have I developed this fear of "losing it" which makes me do it automatically?

Let me put it this way.

During the Nine/Ten days, I know that I am not myself. I withdraw into this bizarre shell; pull the metaphorical hatches down and act like someone who is out there alone in the Artic, walking into a raging blizzard.

Maybe my soul is trying to tell me something. Maybe it's that conscience - the one I attempt (pretty feebly I must add) to control or even ignore? I honestly - and I mean this wholeheartedly - honestly do not know. All I can say is that something within me switches/turns/transmogrifies my physical and mental state when the Jewish calendar rolls on to the 1st's of both Av and Tishri.

I know that this is case because of the way I feel as soon as the dates are done - or more precisely - the fasts are over. I feel the weight of the world being lifted from my shoulders and the sunnier aspects of my personality actively driving the dark - oh so very very dark - clouds away.

It could be the fasting. It might be my relief that the refrigerator's contents are once again there for my taking, without the worry of having to wait for a day to reach out and ingest them.
I would like to think that the reasons are more meaningful than that.

It could be that aspect I talked about at the start.

Perhaps my Deeply Religious Insides (TM) are reminding me that being sunny is all well and good, but at the end of the day, it means diddly squat if there isn't a little rain cloud waiting in the wings - without which, the sun would never receive it true appreciation.

Finally, am I alone in fielding these emotions?

Can you relate?

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