Friday, November 16, 2012

My Name is Asher Lev


My Name is Asher Lev

I enjoy reading novels and when I find an author I like I try to read all of their works.  Chaim Potok is one of my favorite authors and he wrote several books, one of which was My Name is Asher Lev. I read this and his other works many years ago, and these left a lasting impression on me.  Books have a way of doing that.

One of the neat things about living in NYC is the diversity of cultural things to do, and the live theater here is great. So when we saw that an adaptation of this book was playing at an off-Broadway theater, we got tickets and went to see it. 

It’s set in post-war Brooklyn and tells the story of a boy prodigy who must be a painter at any cost – against the will of his family, community and tradition.  It is a moving portrait of a young artist with a universal theme about following one’s passion. 

Following one’s passions was a fairly common theme for many in my generation, and the breadth of new and exciting opportunities presented to us seemed endless.  Art, music, science, technology, social mores, drugs – all of these cascaded around us with such intensity and attractiveness – it was a wonder than the culture of our parents survived. That’s what this play was about.

And now that we have kids and grandchildren, most of whom are facing similar challenges, it doesn’t seem all that intense or passionate.  Is that what now being of an age that once seemed so distant does to us?  Are our passions subdued, or have our experiences moderated those passions? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that the play was excellent, the acting was inspired, and the story was as moving as ever. 

Maybe a good story is what it’s really all about.  Maybe a provocative theme is forever inspiring.  And maybe lessons learned once carry on throughout our lives.  A good book, like great acting, has the ability to teach us lessons that serve us well. And lessons, at any age, are a wonderful thing!

One of my messages this week was about the joy of becoming who you are:

“The secret of happiness lies in the ancient saying: "Become what you are"  Alan Watts

What’s the secret of happiness?  Some will say it’s the love of their life, others that it’s their car; some will say it’s good health, others claim it to be good fortune; still others will say it’s fulfilling their career ambitions, others will say it’s their retirement; and then there are those who will say they’re happy no matter what.  In truth, to be truly happy one has to be in the full realization of who and what they are, to be doing the things that make them feel fulfilled, to feel that what they’re doing makes a difference, and to know that they’ve left nothing undone.  All of these have the potential to add to your happiness, and together these can form the basis for doing great things.  Because only by becoming what you are can you fully achieve the breadth and scope of your capabilities.  Do that and you’ll find happiness and greatness today!

Stay well!

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