I wrote to a friend after staring out the back window in distress at my beloved daffodils bowed over with snow, their petals freezing. I wanted her to know that I see her neshama, her soul, in the drama in my back yard.
She is like the daffodils. They bloom with such joy and hope in screaming yellow, yet when snow and frost hits, they are by far the sturdiest and yet most lovely flowers on Earth. They may sag for a day or two, but they will bounce back and be the stronger for it.
This friend is, like so many of us, living the aftermath of an abused childhood. I wrote this to her on the first day of Pesach (Passover), and this is now the sixth day of counting the omer, Day 6 of 49 days of preparation, reflection, and growth from Pesach to Shavuot (Pentecost), in order to receive the great gift of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
This year, my focus is on reasonableness. What is reasonable to expect of myself and others? Where do I belong, and what kind of choices are in sync with reasonable expectations? My tendency to strive, overachieve, overdo, overthink, and overreact is clearly not aligned with reason. It is madness disguised as intelligence, arrogance disguised as helpfulness, and recklessness disguised as bravery.
I want to get real with all of that this year. I want to be able to walk away from the various encounters in my life knowing that I looked first for the genuine intelligence, helpfulness, and bravery, all of which can only spring from a heart that loves the truth above all. My overdoing is just like yeast in the dough—it puffs things up beyond what they actually are and in doing so, poisons the natural, reasonable system that was set up to eat matzo, manna, and the fruit of the Earth.
I need to become like the daffodils in the snow. If I’m going out on a limb to blossom when all other flowers are wisely remaining hidden in the ground, I must learn about reasonable timing and about my actual limitations.