By Lindy Diamond, Editor Cape Jewish Chronicle
When my husband and I were married, our Rabbi and Rebbetzin gave us a book as a gift from the shul. The book was The Committed Marriage, by Esther Jungreis and it’s a precious part of my Jewish book collection.
I dip into it every few months when I’m in need of some soul food, and one of my favourite concepts in it is where the author reminds us that we should look at the world with a ‘good eye’.
She says “There are two ways of looking at every situation. You can see light or darkness, blessing or curse. You can see the world with a good eye or a bad eye.”
This idea has stuck with me for nearly 11 years. Such a simple concept and yet totally transformative.
A good eye changes everything.
I sometimes find myself taking offense at someone else’s actions and I have to remind myself that from their perspective, the truth of the matter could be totally different. It often is.
The slights we perceive others to have inflicted on us are usually misunderstandings, and choosing to see everything with a ‘good eye’ not only fills our lives with positivity, but I’m sure could save on botox bills and high blood pressure meds in the future.
So it’s all about practice. And really, this isn’t burpees or training yourself to like eggplant if you actually hate it. It’s pleasant to be pleasant! This should be the easiest training programme in the world. And yet…
The author stresses how our world-view is coloured by this, “… depending on which eye you choose, you can become either considerate or bitter, patient or angry, giving or niggardly, content or miserable, warm or cantankerous, loving or critical — it’s all contingent upon how you train your eye.”
I feel this most strongly when I am at a funeral. I have listened to eulogies of people I thought I knew well and felt totally inspired by their lives. Lives I had been a part of, but hadn’t been looking at with a purely good eye.
I have been at funerals to support my friends when their relatives pass, and left feeling a true sense of loss at never having known the person who had died, because now all I know of them is their eulogy, a life story told with a good eye.
The eulogy or hesped is the one time we all look with a good eye. We stop harping on about that farible from 1983 and ‘that one time she didn’t greet me in Checkers’.
We speak of people as their best selves, we mourn them with a good eye. Imagine how amazing life would be if we lived like that too?
Esther Jungreis completes her thought by saying “…[a good eye] is the legacy that you leave behind. That is your eulogy.”
As we come into the month of Elul, a time of self-reflection and repentance, I’m thinking about how wonderful it would be if I could live a life today that is truly worthy of the eulogy I hope will sum up my time on earth when it comes to an end.
Or to put it another way, as author and entrepreneur Paul Dunn says, “My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”