The same night, he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and Jacob crossed the ford of the abook. He took them and sent them across the stream and everything else that he had, and Jacob was left alone.
And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched Jacob's hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.
Then the man said, Let me go, for the day has broken. But Jacob said, I will not let you go unless you bless me. And the man said unto him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob.
Then the man said, Your name should no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and you have prevailed.
And then Jacob asked him, Please tell me your name. But he said, Why is it that you ask my name? And there he blessed him.
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, For I have seen God face to face and yet my life has been delivered. The sun rose upon him as he passed Peniel limping because of his hip.
Therefore, to this day, the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob's hip on the sinew of the thigh.
It is, of course, a fable.
First thing, notice that Jacob is alone, existentially alone. Everything he has is gone. Everyone he has is gone. Technically, isn't the same state like Job, much later in history, is a human alone, faced and facing the universe.
Being human is about fighting nature, fighting the angel of God, fighting men, fighting the universe. It's about not being. It's about nothingness, in the sense that you have to renounce everything outside yourself.
And in the eyes of society, and in the eyes of the world, you have to become nothing.
We all end up wounded, some of us at the hip, some of us all over. But we all end up blessed.
If we choose this path of struggle, this path of withdrawing from the world and from the suffering it can inflict, happiness comes naturally from the inside.
It is a slow and steady and safe unfolding. It is not the ephemeral pyrotechnics of fireworks.
Happiness never depends on anything external, never depends even on anyone.
Happiness cannot be bought. Happiness, therefore, can never be sold.
It is a state of mind, not a state of affairs.
Happiness is self-love and self-acceptance without the narcissism.
Happiness flowers in the least expected moments and it brings to life.
The moribund refreshes the stale, infuses everything with color.
Happiness is being and nothingness at the same time.
We all pursue happiness in the wrong ways.
Nothing is more sad and lonely than having casual sex in order to feel less sad and lonely. Nothing is more deceitful than brutal honesty because brutal honesty pretends to offer empathy and succor, but it is merely camouflage sadism and hatred.
Nothing is more vainglorious than false modesty and pseudo-humility. Nothing is more hateful than the ineluctable expiry of love.
And nothing is more wrong than being right all the time. Nothing is faster than life and nothing is slower than dying.
And we spend life dying. Nothing is more attractive than the self-sufficient. Nothing is more attractive than those who don't need you. They are self-sufficient and nothing is more repentant than the clinging and the needing.
Don't be one. Nothing is more corrupt than conformity. Nothing is more noble than being oneself in splendid isolation. Nothing is more dignified than honoring others and nothing is more hopeful than what we already have.
Nothing is more blind than merely observing and nothing is more deaf than merely hearing. Merely observing and merely hearing. These are disabilities. Nothing is more present than the past. Nothing is less certain than the future.
No gift is greater than a smile and no harm is more deleterious than rejection. No risk is grander and no reward is more substantial than to live life to its fullest.
Only the craven and the foolish extol and recommend death or asceticism as bravery or wisdom. They are not.
Reality is in our mind alone and what is out there is solely what we make of it.
Go forth to this new year, to this new world, to this new normal and be brave. Make them love you. The way out is your only entrance. Your exit strategy is the only strategy. Exit the world, not physically, not foolishly. Exit the world mentally so that you can experience yourself above all else.
What did life teach me? I'm 60 years old and I've led the combined lives of 10 people, at least. I have learned that life doesn't always accommodate your plans and wishes, but it always turns out to be far better than your fears.
If you just let life happen, life takes care of you. We have only limited information. Life has a lot more.
Events that look like disasters are usually agents of positive change. Trust life. Do not fight life. Plan flexibly. Execute wisely. Retreat smartly. Advance promptly. Invariably celebrate all these steps on the path that is who you are, your being.
Assume the worst. I am no Pollyanna. Assume the worst, but expect the best. Settle for the real.
Even when you're stuck, you're carried forward at blinding speed. Love the innumerable gifts that you had been given. Life first and foremost amongst them.
Cliches are golden truths forged by experience. Setbacks are opportunities. Raw gold never glitters. The grass is green and every cloud has silver. Tunnels always end in light. These are all truths.
Be positive and not gullible. Positive but not gullible. Assured but not grandiose. Happy but never euphoric.
Some emotions are bad advisors. Others, indispensable counselors, know which is which.
And yes, change what you can but only what you can.
Do not aim for the stars. Let the stars aim for you who are made of stardust.
Remember, this dream you're in, it ends one day. It ends one day. We all wake up to our mortality.
The only things we take with us are CPM memories and they're the only thing we live behind.
Work on having a life worth remembering by both yourself and others.
And if you are the victim of this treatment and abuse, resolve. Resolutions are notoriously fragile and ephemeral but you can't afford this cavalier attitude.
Your mental, your physical health depends on strictly observing at least some promises to yourself.
I will treat myself with dignity and I will demand respect from others. I will not allow anyone to disrespect me. I will set clear boundaries. I will make known to others what I regard as permissible and acceptable behavior and what is out of bounds. I will not tolerate abuse and aggression in any form or guise. I will seek to terminate such misconduct instantly and unequivocally.
I will be assertive and unambiguous about my needs, my wishes, my expectations from others. I will not be arrogant but I will be confident. I will not be selfish and narcissistic but I will love and care for myself. I will get to know myself better. I will treat others as I want them to treat me. I will try to lead by example.
If I'm habitually disrespected, abused or if my boundaries are ignored and breached, I will terminate the relationship with the abuser forthwith. Zero tolerance, no second chance would be my maxims of self-preservation.
The world is changing because the world has always changed. Change is the way of the world. This is the new normal. Make it yours. Make it yours by focusing on the only thing that matters in this world. You. Only the only one that matters to you. Yourself. Nothingness is not about rejecting life. It's about embracing life. Nothingness is not about ego death. It's about reality testing, which is the hallmark of a healthy ego. Nothingness, above all, is distilling the wisdom of the ages and leveraging this wisdom to finally, maybe, experience happiness.
Good luck in 2021.