A few things were on my mind over Shabbat and afterwards.
One is whether my friends secretly hate me. I know many of my friends think very differently to me regarding politics and religion. I don’t judge them, but I wonder what they think about me. A lot of people can be judgmental about religion and politics, particularly politics; in this country it’s assumed by a lot of people that anyone even slightly right of centre is just Evil and hates poor people and wants to exploit them. I haven’t, for instance, mentioned my relief at the election result to those of my friends who think it’s terrible, because I know that while it was probably the least-worst outcome for me and the Jewish community, lots of other people think otherwise, and if they didn’t experience the fear of the last few months, they’re not going to understand the relief. Nor am I going to give them a mini-tutorial in economics (I did A-Level Economics at school) and how that influences my voting, or explain how being on benefits and a long-term NHS user has influenced my views of state welfare (clue: it’s not the way it’s ‘supposed’ to have influenced me).
OK, my friends probably don’t hate me (I don’t think they’re two-faced), but do they think, “Luftmentsch, you’re a nice guy, but how does that fit with not voting for X” or “Luftmentsch, you’re really clever, so how come you believe in God? And a really fundamentalist one at that?” I’m not really one for debating with people. If people feel differently to me, I’d rather change the subject to something we have in common than try to convince them or even explain my point of view (although I do get angry inside when I’m told how great the NHS is and how lucky I should feel to be in its caring hands). I wonder if that’s the right thing to do.
One crazy thing that happened on Friday, which I ran out of time to blog, was that, when I fell asleep mid-morning (after a night of insomnia), my Dad went to get the medical certificate that I need to claim benefits only to be told that the doctor had not written it and it would be another ten working days. Then, in the afternoon, someone phoned to offer me an appointment at the Jobcentre next week, which is pointless until I get the medical certificate. The one time the state is actually efficient is the one time I could do with some stalling for time. I had to turn down the appointment, and the woman I spoke to wasn’t authorised to offer me one in January, so I’ll have to spend nearly an hour on hold again in a couple of weeks to get approved again so that I can get another appointment somewhere down the line.
Despite having only had three and a half hours of sleep in the last thirty-five, I couldn’t sleep on Friday night, although unlike Thursday I did eventually fall asleep (and then slept through shul (synagogue again). I sat up late reading Doctor Who: Ground Zero, the latest Doctor Who Magazine comic strip compilation, containing a story I’ve waited literally twenty-three years to read. So that was good.
Three thoughts I’ve had lately that are positive:
- I feel somewhat more accepted at shul. A few people do talk to me in a friendly way, even if I am not always sure how to respond, or how to deepen the friendship. The two people I sit with were concerned that I was not there last week, when I was staying with my sister and brother-in-law. Also, although I complain about being more “modern” in outlook than the rest of the shul, I think part of me does like being on the boundary between the more modern and ultra-Orthodox streams. That said, I did chicken out of going to a shul social event tonight, because I can’t see myself being happy in such a setting (lots of families, tempting junk food, people just milling around and chatting rather than something more structured).
- I am beginning to accept that my writing is somewhat good and that it can improve. Some of my favourite authors clearly developed over time, not always for the better and sometimes not in a straightforward way. Likewise, some of my favourite authors were not deemed successes in their lifetime. My first novel doesn’t have to be my best.
- I am beginning to accept that I am, on some level, a good Jew, or at least trying my best to be one. I am trying not compare myself to other people as much as I used to. To be honest, hearing about the success (regarding religious involvement/prayer/Torah study, finances, career, or family) of my peers doesn’t seem to bother me so much these days, perhaps because I’m so far behind them that it’s like I’m living in a parallel universe. Success in my world and success in their world are just two completely different things and I can’t cross into their world and succeed like them. It’s just not possible. So, I try to succeed in my world.