The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.



I sometimes think I’d be very content living in a teepee, mountains and wild life surrounding me. Or – a small cabin on the edge of a lake filled with fish for my dinner, weeping willow  trees lining its banks and an herb garden at my front door.  For the most part we don’t live like that.  There was a time in our history when nature was primary in everyday lives but that is no longer the case.   Today it plays a secondary, walk-on role in our lives.

The question is: how did that happen? What is the driving force behind the subjugation of nature brought about by politics, religion, education and business? Assuming such a power exists, one might at first say GREED.  But how does greed play into education? Is it conspiracy?  Again, when it comes to education, that’s not the answer.  Does education even belong in that list? I think it does.

Poor student performance – kids who can’t read – is indicative of the fact that education is not doing its job. And the inability to provide what people need also applies to religion, politics and business.  None of our formal institutions provide us with the proper tools to do justice to maintaining our natural world.  We simply don’t know how to do it.

If  it’s not greed, not conspiracy, what is it?  Could it be egotism?  Is egotism – the desire to be recognized to the exclusion of all else – the desire to be ‘top gun’ – the force that underlies the subjugation of nature.  Egotism, I think, does apply to all four categories though you have to look beyond the classroom to find it in education. There it can be found among the publishers of text books who resist change with a vengeance and refuse to admit to the extraordinary capacity of very young children to learn.

I’d also have to say that organized religion bears some responsibility for the subjugation of nature.  Invented deities replaced Mother Earth and, for the most part, those invented deities offered mankind no guidelines for living in tune with nature.  I don’t dispute their guidelines for living in tune with others but their emphasis was certainly not on nature. Those of a religious persuasion would reject egotism as an explanation but isn’t “my God’s better than your god” egotistical? Doesn’t egotism, to a large extent, drive General Motors and Boeing and Sara Lee?  I don’t think you can question it in relation to politics

What does subjugation of nature really mean? It means a failure to appreciate the wonders of nature: it’s never sitting quietly in a forest and watching the birds overhead and the critters at your feet; it’s not experiencing  a sense of awe at the sight of a snow-covered mountain or a leaping dolphin.

It’s not understanding what these people said:

          “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” – Rachel Carson

          “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with  your hair. – Kahlil Gibran

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it . . . People think pleasing God is all God cares bout. But any fool living in the world can see it is always trying to please us back.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple

          “In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. – Charles A. Lindbergh.

          Just think how different our world would be if the powers that be in the four components of that insidious fork subscribed to those statements.

Post a comment. What do think it is?

Julie Rose


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Jerusalem– city ofHope

Birthplace of the world

A sanctuary of confidence

The utopia of faith in the future


There “break a leg,” “good luck,” “best wishes,”

“forever yours,” and “l’chaim” were coined

There, in spite of guns and mortars,

Industry thrives and great minds enrich humanity

There, the persecuted come to rest

Find solace from outstretched hands

Home also to generations of war

Hate and destruction

Against which hope has prevailed


The sliver of land we callJerusalem

Has taught mankind that

Hope outshines, outlasts suffering, despair

That optimism transcends terror and fear

Born there, hope remains

Never willJerusalembe its grave


Simcha  – 5/12


Julie Rose


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Somebody once said to me, “I would like to be one of those who lets nothing important escape him.”  Are there such people? The implication of that statement is that one always knows what the important things are. I’m not sure that’s true either but I am sure that what is important at one stage of one’s life is not necessarily what is important at another time. If the things we consider important didn’t change, we’d all be stuck where we were at 18 or 19 or 20 and heaven help us if that were to happen!


The statement also presumes a sort of universality of importance when what is more likely, I think, is that we all have our own agendas as to importance. Yours and mine may be similar but you might find it more difficult than I to put down Melville or Keats in favor of taking a walk. That doesn’t mean you wouldn’t. It just means that on a scale of importance, you’d place a little more weight than I on the book in your hands. If you stayed with Keats and I took a walk does that mean you’ve let something important escape you or that you’ve opted to stay with what you deem important?


Certainly our understanding of what is important  changes with time. I do think, though, that there are things that are universally important. We all have our own opinions about what is important, but heaven help us if we ever get to the point where we cannot agree about the value, the goodness or evil, of some things. I deplore the sociological relativism that has stripped us of reasonable opinions of right and wrong, along with traditional values, and replaced those with absolutely nothing, as some of the social scientists, to their dismay, are beginning to discover.


It’s important to me that I continue to learn and not allow my brain to stagnate. My children and grandchildren – my blue ribbons – are important to me.Israel, Judaic values and the Jewish community are on my list of what’s important. So too is the exercise of whatever creativity I’ve been blessed with. It is important to me that I always keep in mind the oneness of mankind; that, to the best of my ability, I don’t neglect those in need; that I am tolerant of the views of other.


I have a copy of a poem by George Eliot on my refrigerator door. It serves to remind me what’s important. Eliot had it right:


If you sit down at set of sun and count the acts that you have done

And counting, find one self-denying deed, one word

That eased the heart of him who heard

One glance most kind that fell like sunshine where it went

Then you may count that day well spent

But if, through all the livelong day

You’ve cheered no heart, by yea or nay

If, through it all you’ve nothing done that you can trace

That brought the sunshine to one face

No act most small that helped some soul and nothing cost

Then you may count that day as worse than lost.


What are your  priorities?  Post a comment.


Julie Rose


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I sometimes ask myself what I have learned.  Usually I am dissatisfied with the answer.  It feels incomplete – as though by the age of 75 I ought to have learned a good deal more.


I have learned to be content with less than perfection. I accept the fact that I’m not going to win the Nobel Prize or be entered in the Guinness Book of Records. I’ve come to understand that my contribution to our troubled word is that I managed to raise three well adjusted kids, all of whom are considerate, honest, caring people. I take some pride in that and am past striving for more.


I have learned how little I know – how little I understand. There is a whole world of unread stuff – a universe of un-understood things – that beckons me every day. I have come to realize how insatiably curious I am. I always feel that even if I taste it, I won’t have digested it. I want to feel about something the way Helene Hanff feels aboutLondon– to know all its nooks and crannies, to weep at the sight of the Towers. I want to be inside the skin of an Israeli whose village is threatened – to be able to intelligently discuss what happened at the Finland Station – to comprehend Joyce, Shakespeare, Descartes and a host of others – to spend hours upon hours inside the world’s great museums and come away understanding something – and on and on .


I have learned that anger and self pity, jealousy and envy are self-defeating. I have learned and appreciate the fact that mankind is one kind and I strive to incorporate that point of view in all I do and say.


I have learned not to waste worry. I know I am too trusting but I have no desire to be anything but.  ‘Parlous’ times are not familiar to me. I have learned to value and take pride in some personal qualities that, some years ago I didn’t recognize. I like my flexibility, my open-mindedness, the things that make me caring and loving, whatever creativity I possess.


One of the most important things I have learned occurred one day on about the 50th lap of a one mile swim in a pool.  Like a bolt of lightening I suddenly realized that subjecting ones self to unpleasant living circumstances only causes one to lose self respect.


On the other hand, I have failed miserably to learn anything about cynicism or skepticism. Essentially (foolishly?), despite all evidence to the contrary, I  believe  good will triumph over evil and that people are basically kind and honest. I have been sensible enough, however, to have taken my phone number off the number/address tracking line and I don’t walk down dark alleys.


I have also failed to learn much about patience and how to control my impulse to snoop.  If it wasn’t illegal I’d probably open other people’s mail.  Nor can I control my tendency to be critical of those who butcher the English language.  I haven’t learned how to participate in small talk nor how to reach out and make friends.


In a discussion about satisfaction I was given a quote from an inscription at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, Japan. It said: “I am content with what I lack.”  I don’t lack the essentials but I am not content with living alone, the lack of enough resources to travel, my medical problems.  I have, however, learned to be content with what I lack.


Surely there’s more – more I’ve learned and more I’ve failed to learn. I’ve yet to determine what they are.


What have you learned? Are you content with what you lack?


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Julie Rose


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Once in a while I attend Sabbath services and most often I don’t open the prayer book to the correct page but to a selection of supplementary readings that appear at the back of the book. There I often I find words that ‘click’ for me.

Neither of these selections is ancient Greek poetry or Shakespeare but I find them thought provoking and comforting.

Each year should be the best year we have yet lived

Each year we are more learned in the ways of life

Each year we are wiser than the year before ……

The sunrises are one year more familiar

The sunsets one year less fearful

And the peace of the night is one year closer.


Is the first line of that intended to be inspirational?  Is the last line intended to offer comfort?  Is it true that we become wiser year by year?


Another from a memorial service.

“We are children in a park filled with many gardens,

playgrounds and azure tinted lakes . . .

Come with me, it is your bedtime

Stars shine in the canopy of eternity.”


I have no fear of death though I hope the grim reaper will wait a few more years to claim me.  I’d like to be around when my grandchildren marry – perhaps long enough to have a great-grandchild.

I do, however, resent the cost of dying. It would suit me just fine if my children dug a hole on a shady hillside somewhere and threw me into it, or if they wrapped me in a white sheet, took me to the middle ofLake Michigan, and dumped me overboard.  Why should it cost thousands of dollars to dispose of a body? Why do people break the bank to erect marble headstones?

I do not want a headstone and thus cannot write my own epigraph, but I can write my own obituary. It wouldn’t recount my history or announce to the world I was a decent cook and could sometimes be witty. It might say:


Proud mother and grandmother

of people who epitomize what

God intended when he created mankind.

            Julie Rose


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