Advice to My Son
The trick is, to live your days
as if each one may be your last
(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(for they go slow; if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell).
To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
beauty is nectar
and nectar, in a desert, saves,
but the stomach craves stronger sustenance
than the honied vine.
Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
Show your soul to one man,
work with another;
and always serve bread with your wine.
But son, always serve wine.
I too have survived “the shattered windshield and the bursting shell” and a whole host of other traps and pitfalls. I am sure many of you have as well. Looking back through my life, though, the encounters I have survived with the most “scars” have involved crossing paths with toxic people. The idea itself, of someone being “toxic”, is a relatively new concept for a lot of us. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I never heard that term applied to a person. We would describe someone as a “weirdo” or use another slang expression. But, “toxic” was never related to a person or their actions.
In my later years, as my eyes opened to God’s Torah and all that it reveals, I found much self examination to do. I started to see myself quite differently regarding what God requires of me as a created human being, and became more aware of how God’s perspective is so different from our own. Many of my behaviors had to go, along with their intricate and complicated drivers. My awareness of “self”, the impact others have had on me, and the true nature of people, began to come into sharper focus.
While listening to a Tom Bradford teaching, I felt prompted to study the attributes and characteristics of Satan. Shortly afterwards, an article on narcissism caught my attention. The article not only explained the origins of the term itself (the Greek mythology character Narcissus), but also its current use in describing a person with certain “toxic” personality traits. Having the Satanic attributes study fresh in mind, the article on narcissism really resonated. It appeared to point to the same list of character traits. The more I looked into it, the more I realized this was no mere coincidence.