The Upside of Good Deeds

Is there an individual soul, a grain that is carried through endless time, which is me, each one of us; that is reincarnated time and again, preserving some essence? Or is the breath of life we receive when we are born, that carries us through this life, and that leaves us when we pass on, has no unique essence in the simplified meaning of the word? Is it a form of spiritual energy that comes back to a larger pool, only to reform into another body, like a drop of water in the ocean of life?

This question is at the base of many philosophies and religious traditions. While many believe they have the conclusion, none can prove that theirs is the true and only answer. I, for one, do not know. I choose to believe that we have an essence, but it is what I wish to believe.

Contemplating this question, I looked at how the possible answers affect my everyday life. For some, their actions day to day may be affected by a wish for heaven, for good karma, for some sort of a future reward. For others, the approach is that we only have one life to live, thus we may as well make the best out of this life for ourselves. This can lead one to a life of a sage, or a life of a hedonist.

I looked at what makes me feel good. I know that when I do good deeds for others, it not only feels right, it also leaves me feeling great. When I am being reactive, when someone insults me and I respond in a negative manner, I may have short-term satisfaction, but in the long run, I usually do not feel I honored myself. Same when I indulge. It carries short-term satisfaction, but long-term ramifications.

Whether my soul is, as the Bhagavad-Gita 2.20. states, “For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain,” or whether my soul is that drop in a large ocean of energy, without everlasting existence of its own, I choose to offer service to others with the best of intentions. If I would be rewarded for that in the after-life, in the next life, or if I would never see benefits beyond this life, all this is irrelevant. Either way, doing good deeds serves me best whatever path I choose to believe.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash
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Finding Compassion

A memory. A child, maybe 8 year-old, maybe 10 or 12; helping my dad fix one thing or another at the bathroom. He gives me an instruction, and I misunderstand what he means. My father bursts in anger, possibly calling me a name. I contract in fear. An emotional scar is created; scar as a result of being scared. No wonder scar and scared seem related.

My father passed away forty years ago. He was a good and kind person, and not one to lose his temper easily. I have no doubt that whatever instruction I didn’t understand, didn’t deserve his furious response. But now, as a grown man, I can find compassion. My father was likely carrying weight from other events in his life, and that minor misunderstanding was the straw, the one last frustration that made him burst. God know how many time since then, I have been in that very same situation.

I find compassion towards my younger self, scared, not sure what I did wrong to bring about such anger; compassion for my contracting heart, a heart that, despite such events, learned to open.

I find compassion towards myself as a young father, making similar mistakes with my own children. Not yet knowing to identify the pressure building within, and finding ways to funnel it without scarring others. I hadn’t the maturity; I was still evolving; still am.

I find compassion towards my kids, for experiencing me at moments of frustration and anger. I am sorry. I only hope I haven’t scarred you deeply and that you would learn faster than I did, so that when you have kids, you would act better.

All that being said, I am good with this emotional scar. Like most scars, it is there to serve as a reminder; a reminder if I only chose to look and remember its lesson. This scars serves me as a guide, a road-sign, on the long and winding road from immaturity to compassion.

Picture 428

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What is my frequency?

I used to be a film buff, but I don’t often watch movies anymore. Too much violence and mindlessness. Granted, there are films worth watching, and those I do check out on occasion, but my overall feeling is that filmmakers busy themselves with action-hungry audiences, wishing to be mesmerized by special effects, blood and gore. My taste had changed.

I realized that it serves me better to connect with whatever vibrational elements I wish to obtain in my life. As I aspire to grow spiritually and connect further with the world at large; humans, animals, plants, and the earth, I seek that sort of frequency. This I do through music, painting, and the arts in general, as well as the books I read, the events I attend, and the people I elect to surround myself with.

To exemplify, a person who spends their time in bars and pubs, is bound to be attuned to that sort of nightlife vibration. One who spends time practicing yoga and meditation, is more likely to be aligned with a different frequency. Similarly, one who obsesses over sports, is yet in another type of vibration.

The question therefore to ask is, what sort of vibration I wish to have, and then follow the activities, environment, and people that are aligned with that frequency. This often means breaking old habits to make room – create space, for the new. A shift doesn’t happen all by itself.

While it is quite common that a life-altering event may start a shift, that must be followed by action. If one seeks to be less engaged with the world of matter, and more involved with the world of spirit, meditating daily is a step in the right direction. Although that alone would not suffice. Other elements require close examination. What do I eat? Where do I spend my free time? What’s my day job? Is the latter aligned with my core beliefs? If I believe in healing the environment but I am working for a company that pollutes, I’m creating an inner conflict within myself, one that is bound to throw me off my course and away from my desired vibration.

A wish for a different vibration also means that as I was shaping my new path, I had to let some people exit my life. This didn’t need to happen in a rude manner; it is a natural occurrence. The topics of conversation we once had, be it technology, politics, or movies, became of lesser interest to me, and thus my previous friends and I were left with little to talk about. I wished to discuss the world of spirits, plants and plant medicine, collective consciousness, and these were of no interest to them. The result was that we were meeting less often, calling each only once in a blue moon, until the connection faded away. The reason I bring this particular, seemingly obvious item up, is because sometimes we feel a need to keep a certain person in our lives, be it out of habit or co-dependency. Doing so does not serve them nor me. Thus I learned to let go. Yes, we used to be friends, and I have no ill-thoughts of them, but like the passing seasons, I no long hold on.

Then there is also the savior complex. “I’ve seen the light, and now I wish my old friends to see it too.” I believe it is for their higher good. I’m “saving” them. But who am I to decide what best serves their highest good? Maybe, and quite likely, their path is different than mine. Or maybe I’m doing this to prove to myself, as well as to others, that my path is the right one. I find this tendency with many religions, claiming their path is the only one; God-chosen. What I decided to do instead is to gently make my friends aware of my path, and leave it at that. If they are interested,  it will become an invitation for them to learn some more, an invitation I will gladly answer. Thus, no longer do I preach my “gospel” to others. That does not sit well with my belief in free-will which is part of my aspired frequency.

Finally, the work is never done. Even when the vibration I wish to obtain is at hand, it is easy to fall off the path. A glass of wine here, a cup of coffee there, a flirt, a dirty word jokingly mentioned. Anything can set off a slippery slope. When this happens, I’ve also learned to acknowledge and forgive myself. I am evolving, and I occasionally get off my path. A Buddha I am not. Just a human, learning and practicing at a school called life.


Clarification: in this post, I used the word vibration and frequency interchangeably. However, they are not one and the same. To expand on why will need a separate post. Yet for the sake of this topic, please consider them synonyms even though they are not.

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The Emotional Bladder

Have you ever held your pee for so long that it hurts? And then went to the restroom, yet the release did not come easy? The muscles have been contracted for so long that they did not give way easily. When peeing finally took place, didn’t it feel good?

I occasionally reflect on mental, emotional, and spirit matters, even when I visit the restroom. Such was the occasion not so long ago. It occurred to me that much like the physical bladder, we have an emotional bladder. We allow some emotions to build up pressure as, for one reason or another, we do not feel comfortable releasing. The more the pressure builds, the less comfortable we are. And when it is time to release, it does not always come easy.

Emotions, so it seems to me, are a result of the mental body processing what happened to it during the day. There are emotions that are processed on the go, yet much is processed at a later time. Some of us can manage an immediate release, which may or may not be desired. After all, much like pee, do we really want to release whenever there is the slightest pressure, that is, regardless of the environment and the timing? Some of us tend to hold for way too long, to a point it affects are mental and emotional health. What is then the right timing? That is a very subjective decision. What is the right way? Here too, it is all too subjective. Some may go to therapy as a form of discharge, others may do art, gardening, or cooking. Some are being assisted by plant medicine. All are legitimate ways, depending on what works best for that individual.

As for me, I alternate between different methods. Some days, confiding with a close friend may be the best path. Other days, it may be art or writing, playing music, or allowing plant spirit to guide me. Regardless, I am becoming more attuned of the need to release before the pressure builds too high. What is not good for my physical bladder is not advisable for my mental and emotional organs as well.

Speaking of which, much like the energetic bladder, all our body’s physical organs have parallels in the energetic realm. We can feel the energetic heart contracting when we receive painful news, or expanding when it is joyful. Matters of the heart have manifestation in the physical organ, but what we really feel takes place at the energetic layer. Same with the stomach, the brain, and all the other body parts. I am training myself to be more aware to the nuances of these happenings so I may respond in a timely manner, rather than allow disease to manifest. I believe that all our physical challenges start on the spiritual level, affecting the mental and emotional, and ending up in the physical. If I can catch the start of a challenge at the root, I can address it by learning the lesson it is intended to teach me, and avoid the ramification of it trickling down to the other layers. Being observant is key. Thus, back to the restroom, when you have a chance to pee, go ahead and do it. Getting stuck in traffic with a full bladder is no fun…

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Finding My Center

When I speak with people interested in Spiritualism, Yoga, or New Age, sooner or later I hear them say something like, “I connect with my center,” or “I stay in my center.” It is one of these sentences that became trendy some years back; fashionable, cool. But what does it really mean? When I asked the person I am speaking with, to elaborate, the explanation is often vague, using big words. Maybe that person knows and cannot put it to simple language, or maybe they wish for something that they themselves do not fully understand.

I admit that for years I didn’t grasp the idea of center myself, and thus refrained from using it. I would say that I am focused (at least some parts of the day…) or attentive, but not that I am in my center, as this was not something I was able to comprehend. Then, as my spiritual path took me via Taoism, Yoga, and other practices, all the way to South American Shamanism, the understanding came. The following is how I see the notion of center. For other people center may mean something else, thus this is my subjective experience.

Among the topics I teach at my Open Heart Energy practice, is Energy Shielding and Cleansing. Open Heart Energy, by the way, is the name of my business. Energy Shielding and Cleansing is a workshop that includes an introduction to the topic of Subtle Energy. The introduction is followed by a review of how, if we go unprotected, we can get contaminated. Such contamination is likely to result in a wide array of challenges; from the physical through the emotional, mental, and spiritual. I then teach different techniques for shielding oneself, and also how to cleanse in case contamination does happen. Even with the best precautions, infiltration of the peri-spirit(*) is bound to occasionally occur.

One of the best means of energetic protection is to stay at our center. To explain center as it pertains to energy shielding, I invite you to imagine a vessel, a container, a house. This represents our body. When we fully occupy that space, nothing else – no mocking spirits or other forms of challenging energies, can enter, as the space is already taken. It is like a full cup that will take no more liquids.

On the other hand, when we allow our thoughts to wonder off into unproductive territories, we evacuate the space and enable other energies to penetrate. Those energies are likely to be of darkness. My teacher, Kai Karrel, points out that, It is the way of darkness to act without permission, it is the way of light to honor our free-will. In other words, a law-abiding, decent citizen, would not enter our home without our explicit permission; even if we left the door wide open. A thief, on the other hand, will eagerly seize such an opportunity. Thus, when we leave our body’s door but ajar, the only ones who would take advantage of the situation, are likely to be of darkness. When this happens, our mood starts to shift. We may become agitated, or maybe depressed, anxious, angry, and even suicidal. This in turn may lead, over time, to physical manifestations of illness and mental breakdown. What am I to do? How can I stay at my center?

Like many situations in life, there is no magic pill nor an ancient spell that can fix this in an instance. Maybe someone else have found such a cure, but not one I am not aware of. All I can do is share my strategy.

For my approach, practice is needed; practice, patience, persistence, and forgiveness. Like an average Joe readying his body for attempting a marathon, we need to build the correct muscles slowly, patiently, and forgive ourselves when it doesn’t always work out the first time; realizing that it’s a practice.
What I did a while back in order to get myself started, is as follows. When I find myself veering off into those lands of the shadow; when my thoughts turn to judgement and criticism of myself and others, when I worry about things that happened in the past and that I cannot change, or things that are yet to come, and that my mind is playing games, telling me stories of negative outcome, I simply take note. That is the starting point and the most important part of the training. I don’t fight or deny what is happening; I just take note that right now, in this moment, I am telling myself a fictional story about the future, one that ends up as tragically. As this training progressed, I have conditioned myself to note this mind tendency promptly. That being said, I am still practicing, which means that on occasion I will miss a mind veer-off when it starts. Yet, as I practice repeatedly, the frequency of such instances lessens.

The next step in this training is not to argue with the mind. The mind is likely the most powerful organ in the body, and since it knows me all too well, I cannot readily cheat it. It is like an opponent that sees all my cards. Rather, I divert my mind onto a different line of thinking. Since the mind can only hold to one thought at a time (multi-tasking is a myth as, after all, it is just rapid switching between different single tasks,) if I task the mind with a different thought, like a child holding to a toy, being offered a shinier toy, it drops the first to grab the second. The new thought must be prepared in advance and include no darkness. For me it is my life’s purpose. I remind myself why I chose to come into this life, into this body. I am a healer, a servant of the light, an attendant of others who can make use of my assistance. Each person can have their pre-set thought, their torch to their center. In some practices this would be looked at as a mantra. The challenge I find with mantras is that they do not mean much to most of us. Yes, OM is very cool, but does it really achieve what is needed? For some that may be the answer and that’s okay. But if chanting OM (or other mantras) doesn’t really have an effect, here’s a different option. The pre-set thought should not be something that depends on others. “I am a mother to my kids” presents a challenge. What will happen if one day those kids will be no more? Therefore it must be independent of outside conditions. For example, I am an instrument of love and compassion to others, can work.

After I recite my reminder, I find a way to connect with my heart. What does that mean, connect with my heart? It is another term that is being thrown around often. For me it means literally feeling my heart beating, pumping blood, keeping me alive. It is doing its job relentlessly, no matter how poorly I sometimes treat it. The heart is a servant of the body, much like I aspire to be a servant of others under the light. When I reach out to my heart, I feel my heart warming up, followed by a sense of expansion. I come back to my center; I occupy the energetic temple of my body, leaving no room for slaves of the darkness to enter, expelling those who may have sneaked in when I didn’t notice.

As mentioned earlier, this is a practice that requires patience, persistence, and forgiveness. When I occasionally go amiss, I forgive myself and rather than ruminate, I simply return to the practice. At times I may find myself in darkness. I didn’t pay attention and my house was broken into. This is a good time to remember a quote by St. Francis of Assisi: “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of one single candle.” Our candle is always burning bright, always, even if we cannot see it. When I cannot see my candle, I reach out and feel it instead, through my heart’s center.

(*) perispirit is a subtle body of energy, closely surrounding our physical body from the outside, It is used by the spirit to connect with the perceptions created by the brain. The term was originally coined by Allan Kardec in his books about Spiritism.

Photo by Prateek Gautam on Unsplash

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On Relationships and Storms

Few, if any, long-lasting relationships experience no turbulence. Whether the relationship is romantic, friendship, job-related, or political, sooner or later friction is bound to happen.

I imagine a relationship as a structure lodged on the ground; a house, a hut, a water-tower, or a bridge. How well will it sustain a passing storm depends on multiple factors, as well as the type of force of nature it is facing. How deep are its foundations? How tall is the structure? What materials were used to construct it? Stone, wood, or Sheetrock? How well was it put together, and so on and so forth.

A mild storm may have but little effect on a weak structure built with poor foundations. However, even a well-assembled house may be challenged by a category-five hurricane.

Nature carries many parallels to human life and its variety of relationships. A new friendship is less likely to survive a small breach of trust that a twenty-year friendship may hardly be affected by.

The Afro-Brazilian tradition of Umbanda, derived from ancient African religions, realized this long ago. Within Umbanda, as with those other African religions, are the Orixas; forces of nature, represented as deities. Of these, Iansa is the goddess of the winds, lightning, and violent storms. Together with Ogum, she rules the line of Law. When things go out of control in our lives, a storm will shake us so that we may come back to our center. It is Iansa at work.

It occurred to me that the ‘relationship storms’ we experience, are fed by us. Meteorologists talk about a low pressure system. It is a large mass of air that rises due to warmer land or water underneath it. The air becomes hot and starts to expand. In this metaphor, the warm land or water may be our emotions kept unchecked. The air is just air, but when it gains momentum due to the circumstances, it starts to move and shift, and if it continues to be fed, a major storm may develop.

A typical friction in a relationship has a starting point: an inappropriate, or a misunderstood comment being made by a party to the relationship, an action of mistrust, a tweet by a public influencer. These can go unnoticed and nothing will happen. The storm will die before it was even born. Or, it can create a heated environment, ripe for a storm to grow and flourish. It’s just air, which, all by itself, is quite harmless. But when a storm ignites, the more we blow into it, the greater its power, the harsher it’s destructive force.

When I face a storm I ask myself as to the meaning of its eruption. What is Iansa here to teach me? Why did I call it into my life? What is not working in my world as it relates to my life’s purpose. What areas in my way of living need a shakeup?
A storm may be destructive, but it plays an important role in removing old patterns that no longer serve me. It is so I may grow further and develop into what I am to be.

I cannot honestly say that I eagerly await a storm. Yet when these show up in my life, I know it’s there for a reason. If I don’t pay attention, or if I fight and resist the storm, rather than learn from it, the experience it is here to teach me will return time and again in various forms until the lesson is taken to heart. Sometimes all I need is patience, patience and understanding. Other times I need to take action. Either way, a storm, as challenging as it may be, is a wonderful opportunity to study myself deeper.

“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching


Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash

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No other choice

I was pondering an expression we may occasionally use, or hear others say, “You leave me with no other choice.” How misguided this is.

Say there’s a couple. The husband turns into a religious follower and he demands of his wife that she accompanies him to church every Sunday. The woman is a free spirit and does not care for church. The husband may say, “In this case, you leave me with no other choice but to part ways.”

Curious, isn’t it, as he does have choices. He can accept his wife for the person she is, respecting her decision and not try to make her see things his way. Alternatively, he may try a compromise by asking her to join him for church only on special occasions. Or, as the only choice he declares he has, he may proceed with a separation. It is not about having no other choice. That declaration is but an attempt to force a choice one makes on another.

Words create reality. We tend to believe in what we say.
We always have choices. My friend Noa likes to say that when we state that, “It’s a problem,” it is because we have a solution but we don’t like it. Similarly, when we state that we have no other choice, we do (have choices,) we just don’t favor them.


Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash

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My Father’s Passing

Forty years ago today, my father passed away prematurely. If alive, he would have been ninety six. It was his heart that failed after the arteries got blocked. At the time, 1980, while bypass heart surgery was already available, it was too late for him.

At his passing, I was a fifteen y.o. teenager, and my life turned around overnight. I vividly remember the morning of his passing: my mother panicking, my older brother, who happened to be at home at the time, calling for an ambulance, the wait, the drive to hospital with switching ambulances along the way to one that was better equipped to handle heart-patients, the arrival at the hospital where I was told to stay outside, the attempts to revive my dad, and then a heart-wrenching cry I will never forget, coming out of my mom when she was told the attempts to save him have failed. I remember walking about dazed and confused, unable to comprehend losing my dad.
The days that followed, the burial, the Shiva’, the locked emotions I was unable to express; anger, fear, all boiling inside me at a time when therapy was not common. And then my mom developing a depression, and me alone at the house with her for the following three years (my two older brothers were already living elsewhere.) She closed in her room, and I am pretty much on my own. My mom eventually overcame her depression, although she never got over losing the love of her life.

Over the years I reflected upon how my dad’s death affected my life’s path and who I am today. The scars go deep. It took me years of self-work, including with plant medicine, to release the anger and fear I tucked deep inside at the time. But there were other ways in which my dad’s early passing shaped my perspective. For one, I learned that life should be experienced to its fullest at every single moment, as one never knows when their time is up. It meant that I was less into saving and planning long term, and more into follow my heart at any given moment; for better and, sometimes, for worse…

More so, with my father gone, my life’s path took a very different direction. He was a very strong and opinionated person, wise yet forcing. He picked career paths for both my older brothers, and had one in mind for me. Having our very best in mind, he directed my oldest brother to study electronics at a time when this was still an emerging field, sensing it will be a solid profession for the future. And he was right. Although I am not sure that, in retrospect, this would have been the direction my brother would have selected.
For my middle brother, who had no head for study, my dad picked car mechanics. That turned out to be not the best choice. After bouncing around for a bit, that brother settled for being a taxi driver for many years; a profession he both loved and hated, yet was a good fit.

As for me, the youngest, my dad rightfully saw computers as the rising wave, and he started directing me by his well-intended manipulation to go that path. His premature passing put an end to that. I still pursued my studies at a high-school that catered to students with enhanced academic skills, but found myself drawn more to humanities than to science. After high-school, as is the way in Israel, I did military service. I ended up as a submariner in the Israeli navy. My dad, who had until his retirement, an impressive career in the military, might have approved, but I am not all too sure.
After my service, I spent a couple of years trying to find my direction, and then ended up deciding to study animation in New York. Here too, I would have expected my life’s path to be very different if my father was still alive. He was a sworn Zionist, and me leaving Israel, even if just to study abroad, would have encountered strong resistance on his part. I would have likely never left Israel if he was still alive.

Studying filmmaking in NY, I finished college and decided to stay in the USA, later naturalization as a citizen. Curiously enough, my path led me to get involved with the internet during its very early days, and thus I found myself fulfilling my father’s wishes, working with computers. I guess it’s life’s irony.
Twenty two years later, I made a major career change, and moved on to work as a healer and mindfulness facilitator. I know not what my father would have felt about it. My mother was supportive.

When I look back at my life, and how different it would have been if my father was still alive, I am both grateful and sadden. I am grateful as I led the life that I feel best fits me, yet still sad for the loss of someone I greatly appreciated and with whom I had not enough time. Given a choice, would I have preferred my father to pass at the time that he did, knowing he would object and attempt to block several of my decisions? The answer is no, I would have rather him be alive. Yet, it is not for us, mortals, to decide what the Divine Plan has in store for us. I know today that we depart this world when our time is up; long or short is not our choice. And I accept it. I accept and have faith that things happen exactly in the manner they are supposed to happen. All we can do is observe and learn.
I thank you father for all that you had given me in the limited time we had together, and all that you had given me with your passing. I am grateful.


My dad and I a couple of years prior to his passing, on a trip to the Sinai Peninsula (when it was still controlled by Israel)

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The Two Friends

I have two friends. Well, I have more than two friends… especially on Facebook, but lets say two friends that I actually know in person for a while. One friend is always positive. When I speak with her, she is always fun; sharing inspiring stories, and even if things do not go her way, she seems to be the happy-go-lucky type. Nothing seems to ruin her day.

The other friend is mostly gloomy. Whenever we speak, he has some disaster to share with me, or a story about another person that did him wrong. He seems to be ridden with judgment and negativity.

My day is full – between clients, family, and mundane (and not so mundane) tasks, I rarely have a moment to chill. When I drive for a meeting or some other commitment, I enjoy the quiet of being. But occasionally I would use the time to touch base with friends. If I have only fifteen minutes for a call, which friend of the two described above do you think I would rather call?

The two friends I mentioned are somewhat fictional, yet somewhat not. I trust that we all have such friends. The question I started to ask myself is which of the two I am to others? Am I the inspiring one or the gloomy one? The inspiring friend, my ego immediately protested; how can you even question this? But when my ego resists, I have learned to pause and observe.

I admit that on occasion I am that other friend. These occasions are now rare, but I can see times in my life where I was too busy venting and not enough inspiring; wondering why my friends do not call me more often…

I invite you to sit back and observe. Note how you behave when conversing with friends. Which of the two types are you to your friends? I realized that it is easy to criticize others for being negative, but the work needs to start at home. One way to address it is to ask several close friends to call my attention if and when I become whiney or judgmental. I no longer wish to be that guy. I wish to live a life of inspiration. It had been part of my journey these past decade, and it made a huge difference in my life. People ask me why I smile so often. Explaining it would be futile. Or I can just reply that maybe I found the secret for long and happy life.


Image credits: Photo by Katy Anne on Unsplash

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House of Secrets

I have a secret to share. I grew up in a house of secrets.

My parents were of the Holocaust generation. My mom had her share of trials — on the run from the Nazis since she was just six years old. Much of her experiences of that time she did not wish to share. Her other experiences she buried deep inside and was unable to easily tap into. Whenever I spoke with my mom about that period in her life, I would get confused accounts and lots of tears.

My father was a young man when the WWII reached the USSR. He was recruited to the Russian military to help fight the war, and was mostly secretive about his past.

Growing up in Israel, much of the Holocaust generation’s personal past was veiled by those who went through the horrors. Their well-intended intention was to protect their offspring from the traumas they experienced. It is only in the past couple of decades, as the Holocaust generation is slowly passing away, that efforts were made to interview and preserve that past for the benefit of future generations. The passing years soften some of the survivors who were willing to go on camera and record what they still remembered. But when I was growing up in Israel, the past was still a matter not to be discussed.

In my parents’ house, secrecy was taken a step further. Especially after my father passed away, which happened when I was fifteen and my two older brothers were already living elsewhere. For example, when my mom would fall ill, she would insist that I would not to share this information with others, not even with my brothers, so “not to worry them.”

Serving as a submariner in the Israeli navy, the mindset of segregating information and keeping secrecy was further drilled into me. My older brother served in the Intelligence wing of the Israeli military and for him secrecy was even a greater given.

Over the years I didn’t give this matter of keeping secrets a great deal of thought. It was natural to me not to share with most people, including those close to me, about my health and other circumstances. My motto, which I’ve learned from  my mom, was — why burden others with information they can do nothing about? Even with the closest person to me, my wife, I would segregate information with the intent of protecting her. I recall a specific situation: she was away, visiting Israel on her own. I was home in the USA, experiencing sudden chest pain. When I was hospitalized, I didn’t wish for her to know as I knew she would not be able to sleep. Why worry her when she can do nothing about it from afar?

I would try my best not to tell straight-out lies, but the fine line between holding off on information and lying was, more than I wished for it to be, a grey one.

Very few people originally knew that my wife and I were going through seven long and exhausting years of repeated infertility treatments; a time that was very challenging for us. Just a handful of people knew that I had a stent put by my heart when I was in my early-mid forties (a result of a defected gene in our family). And even fewer people knew that I was misdiagnosed in my late forties with an aggressive form of testicular cancer and had to endure the related ramifications.

Sharing such information was, in my mind’s eye, a form of vulnerability. At the time — thirties and forties, I was running multiple businesses and wished to appear powerful. Disclosure of such information, it seemed to me at the time, would have put that image people had of me, in jeopardy.

Luckily I was blessed with a wife that is the opposite of me in several ways; sharing being one of them. While over the years our differences caused friction between us, I realize, more in recent years than prior, that my life-partner is there for a reason – to challenge my behavior patterns and thus allow me to grow. Friction goes hand in hand with that process. It is not that everything she says is right, but it puts in question what I take for a fact.

I am also fortunate these past few years, to walk on a spiritual path that teaches me to never rest; always inquire, be challenged, observe my resistance to change, listen, learn and modify old patterns.

These days my middle brother in Israel is facing a major health challenge. He is hospitalized and goes through his trials. My mom is not aware of the severity of his situation. Both my brothers and their families keep that information away from her. She is under the impression that his hospital stay is due to milder circumstances. My mom is in her late 80s, still has a sound mind but a frail body. The concern my older brother expressed to me is that in disclosing the truth to her, she may try to get to the hospital on her own. My mom is a hardheaded woman who refuses to have helpers. If she loses her balance while en-route and falls, which recently happened resulting in a fractured hip, it may be the end of her. In short, the way my brother presented the situation to me is that if I disclose any such information to my mom, it is as if I would be handing her a death warrant. It may sound melodramatic to some, but the thing is that I am pretty sure my brother really believes it. I decided not to play the role of the whistle-blower. I respect the decision of both my brothers even if I feel it is misguided and stems from old patterns. I live in the USA and they reside in Israel, close to her. Thus I accept that by making a choice to live oversea, my decisions should be taking into consideration the ramifications to my brothers. Round and about, my mom is not online. If you know her and you are reading this, please do not pass this information along.

At this point in my life, this is what I came to understand:

That keeping secrets, especially in the long run, hurts intimacy and creates distrust. Yes, there are plenty of reasons, some justified, as to why one should not be sharing every small detail of our lives. Social media prove this daily as, no, I don’t need to know what you just ate for breakfast, nor do I care when you last visited to the toilets… I am also not an advocate of blasting your ex on Facebook or making public disclosures about your annual earnings. But when it comes to information relating directly to our close relationships, I am learning that hiding it from people I care for, and whom care for me, has ramifications. I am learning to let go of old patterns and invite new ones that better serve me in my growth.


Photo credits: Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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