When You Are Stuck Look Up

Josh Siegel -- My Brother and My Teacher

Here is a great article we can grow from:

"When You Are Stuck, Look Up"

by: Sunny Levi, CPT

The enlightened ones say we can choose our emotions; that we can’t control the circumstances of our lives, but with mindful effort, we can control our reactions to them.  

It’s simple enough when things go our way.  It’s easy to be happy.  But when stuff hits the fan?   Feeling that freedom of emotional choice feels impossible.    

On a recent visit with my brother Josh, I packed a picnic and took him and my 6 kids to the park, in the western suburbs of Chicago.  I always bring my kids and a sack of food when I visit Josh because, well, aside from sitting and eating, there isn’t much else we can do together.

So there I was at a picnic table, my baby on my lap, my 4-year-old at my side, my older kids running loose in every direction, and my big brother across the table with his arm outstretched, waiting for me to deposit the next bit of food into his hand. 

As I spread cream cheese onto crackers rapid-fire and alternated between feeding my young kids and feeding my 45- year-old disabled brother, my mind drifted into the murk of a sad dismal reality. My brother, stuck in his condition, would never be able to have children, or travel, or work to support himself; he would never even be able to spread cream cheese on crackers, pour a cup of juice by himself, or take himself outside for a walk. 

Josh held out his hand to me again. I gave him another cracker and he chewed rapturously, humming and swaying as he savored each bite.  His enjoyment so tangible, but his reality, as I understood it, too bitter for me to swallow. The juxtaposition of the two of us -- brother and sister, grown adults now -- me with my kids, my abilities, my senses, my life, next to him, trapped in a life sentence of blindness and severe delays, was all I could see.   “It’s not fair,” my mind said.  “The differences between us, his situation; it’s just not right.”  The familiar agony of anger and guilt.  

The more I focused on our differences, the worse I felt.  I have traversed this mental terrain many times, and it has gotten me nowhere. Growing up with this everyday, I often felt trapped in a cerebral maze of winding circular roads and bleek cul de sacs.  I felt surrounded by brick, impenetrable walls of negativity, and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t see out. 

I studied Josh as he continued to bliss out over his crackers, and all of a sudden, he turned his face upward and flashed his big beautiful smile to the sky.  He was so happy.  And in that moment I decided to mimic my big brother and gaze up with a smile too.   

Looking up, I remembered a higher perspective, a higher truth. I recalled the light of G-d and the goodness of life and how all situations are brought about by the Creator, which means Josh’s situation, too.  I remembered the concealed perfection and kindness that is G-d’s mysterious plan for each and every one of us. I saw the sky and remembered that “life doesn’t happen TO us; it happens FOR us.” Looking up, I remembered the wisdom that everything God does is for the good.

Looking up, I realized I no longer saw the brick walls of self-pity and unfairness around me. Instead, looking up allowed to me to focus on what I do have, as opposed to what I don’t. Looking up, I realize how great it is to be of service, to be a giver, and to be able to help my brother by simply feeding him, taking him out of his group home for some fresh air, holding his hand, and giving him love.

Looking up, I felt the most profound sense of gratitude rush through my veins; gratitude for the small things in life that I often take for granted. I began to realize, yes, it’s a choice. I can learn from Josh and experience joy from the most simple things, like the afternoon breeze and the picnic bench, to the bigger things like my breath, my vision, my mobility, and my special relationship with my big brother. 

Looking up, helped me understand that God is communicating with me, and that through the channel of Josh, my silent inspirational preacher, God is teaching me that when you feel stuck -- when you’re trapped in a  self-made shroud of darkness, look up and pierce through to the light.

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by: Sunny Levi, CPT

Sunny is a writer and speaker living in Scottsdale Arizona. For more of her articles check out...



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