Category Archives: Inspiration

Breathing in the Corridor

Whoa — this is really the corridor, here.  That meeting I was to have about Happy Notes with a major industry figure had to be postponed.  I was really sick with bronchitis — got it the day after I wrote the last blog here, too — and I think money pressures were a factor in my immune system leaving its guard post.  So, it’s slated for “the week of May 19.”

How to breathe between now and then?  The intermediary who set up the meeting says, “Get ready.”  He explains that he’s not talking about material demonstrations — doing a printing of my newest designs, for instance.  He means, just be ready to be you.  Be ready to express your vision of your company and know what you have.  Be ready to be sure that what G-d has given you is good, is enough, is worthwhile.  It’s better than worthwhile.  It’s a good addition to this world — positive sayings in different languages, basically saying “I love you” to every culture that’s represented.

I’m in Swampscott, Massachusetts, right now (I live in the Bronx).  A couple of days ago, in a Staples parking lot, a guy pulls up next to me.  I don’t remember how we got talking, but he had an Arabic accent and a clear air of worldliness — we might call it “a continental air.”  (It turned out he’s been in the U.S. for fifteen years and owns several businesses.)  I knew he was Arab, but didn’t want him to know I could discern his faint accent so easily.  I say something about non-Americans being so elegant.  He replies with some incredibly lyrical Arabic saying in English translation.  I tell him about my business and how I need that saying and others in Arabic.  He readily agrees to send me a PDF of the saying, and seems thrilled to see his culture and language appreciated.   It’s Boston Marathon time, and the memories of the Tarnaev brothers’ demonic expression of misdirected Islamic pride are everywhere.

I tell him I’m his cousin, in Arabic.  I learned how to say that because all the bodegas in my Northwest Bronx neighborhood are owned by Yemenite Arabs, and I want them to know that I know we’re family.  (Jews and Arabs are all grandchildren of Abraham:  Jews, children of Isaac and Arabs, children of Ismail/Ishmael.)  I kind of push love on them and they send it right back.  One of them, Abdul, sends me Youtube videos of Yemenite Jewish singers, and his daughter found a kid’s song called, “Ya, Suzan.”  See?  My name in Arabic!

The power of mutual appreciation is transformative.  Is it enough?  No.  Is it a lot?  Yes.

This parking-lot guy, Balsam, says he’s from Jerusalem.  He’s born and raised in Jordan, but is Palestinian.  Who knows better than a Jew what it’s like to call a place you’ve never visited “home”?

Our chat is rushed because I need to be someplace, but while we’re chatting, his friend, Gassam, calls.  Balsam crows, “This is my friend, Gassam.  He’s Palestinian, too, and he speaks Hebrew!”  Gassam and I swap Hebrew, and I’m blindsided by a colloquial Israeli greeting I’m not used to hearing (“Mah ha-matzav?”  “What’s the situation?”  Like, “Wha’ssup?”).  Sublime — smiles all around.

I just realized that this kiss from the Universe can help me breathe until “the week of May 19.”  That meeting will either start my business or not.  But, it’s my job to trust that if good is to come from Happy Notes, it will flow inevitably, over rocks and sand, grass growing in sidewalk cracks.  It will be born if it’s meant to be here.

The corridor is its gestation place — its womb.  It’s the place that teaches me to keep breathing, in the dark, in the quiet.

My corridor is lined with windows which open.  The breeze is warm and smells of plumeria, a really fragrant flower I fell in love with in Hawaii.  There will be other corridors after this one, dark places where negatives develop into glorious sights.  If I can remember to breathe, maybe they won’t be such bad places, after all.