Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two Yogis on Yom Kippur

I saw two photographs yesterday.  One was of me.  And one was of a yogi who used to be me.  I looked at the yogi and thought “Yes, that used to be me.  Strong, muscular, fierce.  And now I have become something else.  Waif.  Thin.  Everything is temporary.”  

But I didn’t feel sad or maudlin.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur and it was the perfect time for me to look into the eye of this transformation and not hold it as permanent.  

I did not fast this Yom Kippur, as it would have been counter to my health.  But in past years, as I used to, I always found fasting to bring me to a very quiet place.  I didn’t need that this time.  I found that place without the hunger and without the thirst.  Without that primal ache.  That knowing exists inside of me now.  It is a stripping down.  A place of no ego.  But a place of clarity.

I went to a very quiet place outside and I listened.  I listened to the cicadas.  I listened to the wind.  I listened to the river.  I waited to see what more the river had to offer me before I made my next offering.

I moved about to get comfortable on the sand because I could feel my tailbone speaking to me.  “Too thin.  You’ve gotten too thin.”  Was the voice I heard.  (I’m sure it was my beloved grandmother speaking from afar)  I breathed.

Yes.  It’s true.  Within a short time, my body called for something else from me aside from asana.  And where I was once strong, in body, I no longer “appear” to be so.  But as I sat, I realized that I have had to become strong for myself in newer ways.  Ways which cannot be taught (unless beaten into you through Navy SEAL training and that is not the kind of teaching I mean since it lacks every type of tenderness known to humankind).  


I sat at the river and made offerings to those hearts I could feel were in need of healing.  I prayed for them.  I listened to my dialogue with myself.  And with god.  I felt buoyant.  

Every other year, this ritual of Yom Kippur was lengthy and pierced a place inside of my heart which was painful.  On this day, I felt at ease.  I felt STRONG.  Staring out at the river, I realized that there was nothing else to do but let the water find the stillness inside of me and cleanse and soothe the places which need it still.  For all of us.

As my teacher described recently, I too, had a trip around the sun these last 13 months which now included 3 surgeries and that time period took me into very deep silence and very deep places of learning how to forgive in ways which I had not accessed before.  I recall hitting a bump along that journey that was quite agonizing and made me think it was going to take several more trips around the sun until I would find some peace.  

But a big shift occurred which was seismic and profoundly healing.  

Forgiveness, for me, is a lifestyle.  

I don’t just show up at shul on Yom Kippur and pray for it.  In this case, that wasn’t a possibility.  

I take that trip around the sun every day and every year.  And just hope, for the sake of my own heart, and the hearts of others, that it pays off.

So, the gift of Yom Kippur for me was in the silence.  In recognizing how much stillness happens amidst the constant movement.

Let there be nothing to do but let the water find the stillness and cleanse and soothe the places which need it still.  For all of us.

In health and happiness.  And another trip around the sun.


Jill Bacharach

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rosh Hashana

My heart is beating fast.  

Everything is perfect actually.

Monday is the first day of Rosh Hashana.  The time leading up to the holiday, which is called Elul, is the time of repentance in preparation of the holiest time of the year.  Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the Day of Judgment and the Day of Atonement.  It is a time to begin a process of granting and asking for forgiveness.  A time to work out problems, let go of grudges, a time to put energy toward working out issues you have with others.  It’s a ripe time of preparation and intention.

Monday is the first day of Rosh Hashana and I will be having a cervical spinal fusion.  Two discs which are at the point of crumbling will be removed.  The gap will be filled with pre-made sizer bones and secured with titanium.  

Monday is Rosh Hashana.

I will be opened up on the same day that Torah is opened.  

I bow to all that has come before this day.  Every relationship I have cherished.  Every relationship I have lost.  Every heart that I have hurt.  Everything that has been broken.  Everything I have pieced back together.

I regret every part I played in creating a misunderstanding.  In creating mistrust.  In creating fear.  I regret everything that was tossed away and hardened or broken or changed irrevocably.  

I hold and cherish every heart I have loved and awakened and inspired and helped catapult forward.  I cherish every life I have ushered forth into another life.  

As all who gather together on Rosh Hashana, I bless them.  I bless their hearts.  Their frailties.  Their limitations.  Their hurts.  Their joys.  Their endowments.  The losses and challenges they’ve endured.  I hold their hearts in mine.  That they may each find their way.  I pour love into the places that need it most.  I keep pouring love.  

I thank everyone, near or far, here and gone, who has ever poured love in my direction, if even for an instant.  It has changed the fabric of who I am.  I have been thrown into the sea many times but came swimming back to shore every time with something new to say, to question, and to offer. 

As a young child I was daring and free and went at things with a ferocity that may have looked overly risky to an outsider.  I had a few serious accidents as a result.  One very significant one when I was six which rendered me unconscious for several days.  

Thirty-eight years later, within the span of 2.5 years, I will have had 4 major orthopedic surgeries.  Who knows why.  A lot has happened in the span of those thirty-eight years.  Is it congenital?  (The hips supposedly were.)  Is it emotional?  Is it psychological?  Is it karmic?  Who knows.  But here I am.  And this is what there is to tend to now.  

I am not broken.  I am changing.  I am listening.  Something else has been called for here.  

I have learned many things.

If you are not listening to your body, then what are you doing?
If you are not listening to your heart, then who’s life are you living?
Love the people you love well.  
If you really want to love a person, be sure to learn how they want and need to be loved.
Things are not always what they seem.  
When someone looks well, that may not be the whole story.  
Ask a person how their heart is. 
If you don’t know how your mind works, you have no defenses against it.
Always tend to your inner landscape no matter what.

Monday is Rosh Hashana.

It reminds me to take nothing for granted.  We never know what lies before us.  
May we each be able to identify the blessings we actually possess.  

Whether you are of my tribe or not, whether you will be ushering in the new year or not, alone or with others, may you bear in mind that every day is a day worth truly and entirely “waking up” to.  

“There’s Only Now
There’s Only Here
Give Into Love
Or Live in Fear
No Other Path
No Other Way
No Day But Today.”
(from “Rent” lyric by Jonathan Larson)

L’Shana Tova.  
I wish you all a healthy new year.  

Jill Bacharach

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lion Love

I have had a penchant for drawing very charismatic people towards me.  Some have been leaders of their communities and some have been famous people.  Some have simply been magnificently larger than life.

One of my roles has been like that of the secret service.  I have been the beholder and protector of privacy.  Outsiders would ask me questions about these people and forget about it.  I have been a faithful guardian.    

And I’ve come to see many things along the way.  The lion is considered to be the King of the Animal world.  Female Mountain lions are extremely protective over their mountain lion kittens and have been known to fight off large mammals, including grizzly bears, with success.  Its lifestyle is solitary and it has powerful forearms, powerful paws and a muscular jaw.

I am like this Lion.  Extremely protective when that is what is called for.  

It is the lion’s nature to go off on its own.  And I know how to roam the mountaintop alone with adeptness and skill.


Lion power:  Vitality.

We have all fantasized about being friends with famous or larger-than-life people.  Imagined that if they only really knew us, they would want to be our closest and dearest friend.

I don’t know what that is for others, but what has been real for me is something important.  I know it is sheer and utter projection, because I have no life experience with most of these people, but...

There is a reflection of a humor, a life-force and an energetic juice that when I see it “over there,” reflected outside of myself, I want very much to have it closer to me.  I also know that I can only see it because I possess it inside of me.  And so, I am not just responding to projection, but a great reflection of myself which I wish to share and express, and express more and more of by someone who is expressing this vibrancy so clearly and beautifully and perhaps vibrating in the very resonant magnificence which I know I wish to tend to but perhaps have not achieved as fully.  

I have achieved this expression quite spectacularly.  But I have allowed life to get in the way and pull me off course and practically pull me from remembering this expression of myself until I hear myself laugh or gesture in a certain way and find myself all over again.  What it says to me is that I am not in the full expression of my life.  I have veered off course.

Signal: steer the train back on track.


I am experiencing a distinct arc at the moment of making decisions and experiencing real plateaus.  Some things are being asked of me and some things are simply not moving at all.  

I am asking myself very big questions on all fronts.  What do I want?  Who am I?  Who am I becoming?  Who do I want to become?  What have I come here to do?  What do I need?  What can I give?  What is my highest purpose?  Who is there left to forgive?

And right now it is also lovely to just watch the tennis.

That’s not a joke, actually.

I saw a photograph and it was a life which did not belong to me.  I asked my friend if there was a television at the function.  And I immediately felt a deep ripple of feelings inside.  

Indignance possessed my entire being.

The thought which came to me was this: “Well, then, I just wouldn’t go to that function! That would be non-negotiable. It’s the U.S. OPEN!”

Then another ripple.  

“That’s so rigid.  Look how isolated you keep yourself...”  It went on for a while.  From how those who seek me out in friendship are not so available to how I actually isolate.

It was a tricky moment.  If something that I love (tennis) brings me more deeply into who I am, and helps to bring me back to myself, brings me home again, I may not be willing to give it up.  Except under emergency circumstances.  Emergency circumstances trump everything as far as I am concerned.  

It may not actually be petulant or stubborn.  It may be wise.

This lioness doesn’t mind being alone on holidays if the matches are on.  Even if she knows how to rabble-rouse with the best of ‘em!

So, maybe one of the reasons charismatic people are drawn to me is because of my own inherent charisma.  But maybe we always need to take leave of one another and go to our own sides of the court more often than not because the flip side of having charisma is a longing for solitude and quiet.    

A longing which keeps me contentedly roaming the mountaintop.

In full expression of joy and tears when my players win or lose.  Protecting.  Loving.  Persevering.  And truthfully, having a ball!


Jill Bacharach