Written by Benjamin Seaman
Do you struggle with what to write?
Why not start, like I’m doing, with an image:
Consider the Orthodox Jew. Every day on the subway ride to my office I sit among them, the young men and women of Yeshiva University in
Washington Heights, in their conservative Jewish attire. The women wear these buxom wigs and horsy skirts. The men cut handsome frames in their formal slacks, spotless white shirts, close-cropped hair and yamulkas. The women have an easy gossip about them, while the men run their fingers back and forth across the pages of their Torahs. Or they chime in here and there with the women.
Paint the image as lushly as you can, and then let your mind wander. Where does it take you?
This is where the image takes me: I fantasize that the ills of my youth — precocious sexual activity, wandering streets unsupervised from New Haven to New York, adolescent close-calls with danger — that never touch these Children of Zion. They are safe. They have been trained to be safe. Religion, I heard once, is for people who cannot avoid evil all by themselves. The whole performance of Judaism, then, or any other religion, is by my light, a hedge against danger — to avoid harm, to avoid doing harm.
So many of us rail against organized anything, forgetting the hunger, disease and treacherous behavior between men that might have inspired human beings to invent a loving parent – God – who might tell us how to act.
So now that you’ve happened upon an interesting point, do you see a way to make it universal?
What occurs to me is that we are all Orthodox something in some way, clinging tightly to the humble codes passed down in our own families, codes that were meant to allow for a small circle of friends and a minimum amount of trouble with the law. We think we are so wild. But when we sit down to write, we freeze. We’re full of ideas that would pour out like wine from a proverbial Greek urn, but increase the audience by just a few and it’s What Would They Think? Then we beat ourselves up for having writer’s block and it’s like a young student of Yeshiva at a mosh pit, flagellating himself for not being willing to unleash that movement expression inside him.
Now give your audience some counsel
Easy brother, we get it. You’re not from around here. Start small. Move your hips like this.
Yeah, that’s it. This is how we unleash a creative spirit. It’s by embracing our inner goodnik — he is the vessel of our spirit — and inviting him lovingly to shake that thang a little bit. Following rules is fatal out here. What is it inside you that is burning to come out? When your wild mind bursts through the wall, seasoned but not diluted by an awareness of your audience, that crazy thing you do on the dance floor doesn’t bother us…it’s possible, even, that you’ve opened a path for us.
Benjamin Seaman is a psychotherapist, writer and painter, and of course, a small business owner in New York City. Mr. Seaman specializes in unleashing self-expression for individuals, relationships and business owners. You can reach him at www.benjaminseaman.com.