“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” ~Albert Einstein
I believe in a loving, forgiving G-d and I believe that the universe contains both friendliness and hostility.
Inevitably, we will encounter both in our lifetime. So, the most important decision that Einstein proposes comes after the foundational decision: how do we choose to respond to all of it – the friendliness and hostility that the universe contains? Do we choose friendliness even when we’re faced with hostility? Our acceptance of the experiences we face and our reaction to them is the most important decision — it determines everything.
The other night I dreamed I was in a garage of a friend whose home I was watching over. She’d mentioned that sometimes snakes would find their way into the garage and to be aware.
She was on her way home, so I went into the garage to gather my belongings that I’d packed earlier that day. I stored them in an open bin close to the opening of the garage. As I reached for my bag, a snake with two heads (side-by-side) gracefully rose from inside of the bin–its body, a mix of muted oranges, whites and tans.
An unconscious reflex of fear took over and I pulled my hand away. And then something else took over my body and I stood very still, the fear was gone.
They weren’t hissing or attempting to lunge at me, rather, they swayed forward and backward, as though they were praying, growing taller with each undulation of their coppery trunk. I made eye contact with both of them, but they remained in their dance, their tongues darting in and out softly. And then without warning, they landed on the ground and slowly slithered off into the darkness of the garage. I woke up.
And! I wanted to see what happens!
Of course, I did what any inquisitive gal would do — I Google-d, “spiritual significance of two-headed snake in dream.” And, of course, I got a slew of interpretations, yet none of them felt right. As I’ve sat with the dream over the past few days, one word keeps rising to the surface — And.
I love the word ‘and.’ Experienced, talented writers tend to avoid it – it’s usually the easy way out, but literary slackers like me use it to connect sentences instead of getting dolled up in our syntax.
I love ‘and’ for its simplicity and openness — it is a friendly invitation for the next thought, because, there’s always another thought, another way of seeing things, whether that be the antithesis or compliment to our existing perspective. There’s always more to the story, there’s always more to do, to see, to learn, to understand.
The Torah is filled with ands. In this week’s Torah portion, Rebecca is introduced as Yitzchak’s mate. How did the man who went to seek out Yitzchak’s mate know how to pick the right one for him?
The answer was in the ‘and’ — when all of the other maidens offered him water after a long journey, he knew they weren’t right — they weren’t seeing the whole picture. He was looking for the woman who would offer him and his camels something to drink. Rebecca did. The ‘and’ is an awareness of reality and a sign of compassion.
And, in next week’s portion, when Rebecca becomes pregnant, she becomes pregnant with a righteous son and an evil son. They both exist within us and outside of us at all times — hostility and friendliness are a part of the universe. How we choose to respond to them, what part of ourselves we allow to interact with the world, is the most important decision we make.
The snake represents the oneness of opposites, the awareness of the whole and the parts, inside and out.
How I chose to respond to the snakes was the test – did I see the ‘and’? How can I continue to see the ‘and’ in each moment? And that’s the work, the purpose of life and the way we accrue “merit” in our lifetime — by deciding whether to greet each moment with hostility or friendliness. ~Rebecca