Honoring Complicated Things

Recently, I find myself opening social media platforms, news podcasts, and news outlet sites only to quickly tap the close button as Middle East related content comes rushing towards me. I waiver between wanting to be informed and wanting to hide from it.

The dread and distance I feel isn’t only due to the fact that I live in the United States and this is unfolding 6,000 miles away. It grows from watching anti-semitic attacks and rhetoric surge, from seeing increasingly polarizing sides take shape, and maybe more than anything from (what I perceive to be) a new argument that things between Israelis and Palestinians “aren’t complicated” and that calling things “complicated” is an attempt to rewrite the story.

But of course this, like nearly everything, is complicated.

And there are degrees.

Things can be slightly complicated like trying to navigate social plans these days, or overly complicated like our tax system and trying to sort out stuff with self-employment.

Even if we think something should be straightforward, we often forget that we’re all human and bring human emotions, pasts, and expectations with us wherever we go.

I bring all this up to both shed a light on and to honor complicated things.

The work of the Be.Side Project is about seeing, hearing, and exploring the pieces of our lives that are blurry and steeped in complications including perceptions about end of life carried over from childhood trauma, how and when to talk to loved ones about medical wishes, and how religion may or may not inform all of it.

What might feel easy to navigate for one person, might be a mountain to climb for someone else.

I hope we can stay aware of the layers that each of us brings to life because, if we can, we might be able to listen deeper, understand more fully, and approach each other with empathy and kindness.

Wishing you a peaceful end to the week and a Shabbat Shalom.


Episode 06: Holly Blue Hawkins

Holly Blue is a natural death care advocate, educator, community organizer, cemeterian, author and poet, and the Rosha of her local chevra kadisha.

Heading into the conversation, I expected we would focus on the present day, but it was in the journey that I found myself wanting to stay and listen. It's a reminder that how we get to places is as important as the places themselves.