Monday, May 26, 2014

An Open Thank You Letter to the Dude who Taught me about Relationships

Dear Dude who lives on Manning Street who who I see outside every morning at 7:15 AM,
      You do not know who I am, and I don't know you; but you inspire me greatly. You don't know me, and likely have never seen me, but I feel like I have known you for years. I, like many other passengers in automotive vehicles frequent the street in which you live. Your street helps me get from one point to the next. And by passing your house every morning, I have observed you do one thing for which you have become a profound role model: You spend time time with your daughter. In the freezing winter, this meant simply waiting with her in the bitter cold, as she awaited her school bus. In the spring it has meant playing catch with a baseball in front of your house, awaiting the bus. But you don't just spend time with her, playing catch when you know it will only be for a short time before her bus comes. Because I have also seen you outside on the weekend with her, with no place to go, tossing a ball back and forth with lacrosse sticks.
      At first I was unsure why exactly watching you had been so inspiring to me. And then I recalled my own youth, where my parents did the exact same thing: My pops played catch with me, coached my baseball teams, and hit my groundballs. And my momma was cheering me on in the bleachers. And perhaps without even consciously realizing it at the time, the love that they were showing me seeped into my bones, enabling me to feel secure, confident, happy, and beloved. 
     One of the three things the Torah contractually requires a man to provide for his wife is "onah." There are different understandings as to what exactly this word means, but I have heard quoted in the name if a tremendously brilliant and righteous rabbi, that in its most simple form, "onah" means time. In modern hebrew, "onah" means "season." Thus, according to this most literal understanding of the verse describing a man's legal obligations to his wife is that he must give her time. Perhaps this means that they have dinner together. And during dinner, the TV is off, the cell phone is charging in the other room, and the newspapers (if the couple is archaic and still gets newspapers) are put away. It is just one-on-one time-- an opportunity for the couple to connect and to convey the feeling of how they thoroughly enjoy being in the presence of their beloved. 
      This idea is a secret for success in any relationship today in which we find ourselves: with a friend, a spouse, or a child. We need to give one another time. Sometimes it is hard, in a world with so many distractions: we could be checking our email on our iphones, or speaking to Siri, or avoid spending time  with someone by emailing or texting them. Yet it is obvious that the most cherished, scarce, fleeting gift we have is time. What possible better way to show you love someone, than by investing your precious time in them. 
     For this profound lesson, Dude who Lives on Manning, I thank you.

Danny Wolfe

Friday, May 9, 2014



Dear Henry,
       I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I am SMH. Sorry for being such a negative Nancy, but I cannot stop SMH. For those of you out there in the vast universe who are currently reading my blogg, who are not as updated in the the times we live in as I am, let me explain what SMH means. SMH, oh Henry, means "Shaking my head." It means shaking my head in disgust or bewilderment at something one reads, sees or hears. And Henry, two days ago, I was SMH when I read an article on excitedly describing how two former athletes, Gilbert Arenas, and Tracy 'T-Mac' Mcgrady "trolled" the struggling center for the Indiana Pacers, Roy Hibbert. (For those older readers out there, "trolled" is a nicer word for "bullied" ( Arenas posted a fake jeopardy answer on his instagram page, describing how this "all star" is averaging 1.7 rebounds per game in April, and a picture of someone who posted a meme, describing how Hibbert was Mr. 0'0- 0 points, 0 rebounds. Retired ball player TracyMcGrady tweeted, "Me and Roy Hibbert had the same amount of points and rebounds tonight."Mcgrady, was watching from his couch, while Hibbert was playing in the game. The ESPN article then goes on to excitedly post other comments from random people on the internet, further making fun of Roy Hibbert.
     After reading this article, I was sickened. Call me old fashioned. Call me reactionary. Call me radical. Call me extreme. But whatever you do, please do not call me late for dinner. This article was disgusting, and down right cruel. It is one thing to talk trash to someone you're playing against in the heat of an intense game. Its quite another thing for retired players to smack an innocent, very talented guy, when he is down. And the fact that ESPN proudly posts this article, is yet another reason I am SMH.
       (As I am editing this blogg post, ready to post it, I come across a post on twitter from, condescendingly reporting that " Even the NFL’s official Twitter account mocked Johnny Manziel’s draft fall ." Johnny Manziel is a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns who was drafted last night. He was once projected be one of the very top choices of the draft, but he was passed over by team after team during the draft. The Official Twitter handle of the NFL posted "#SadManziel?")
      One has to wonder: What exactly compels people to berate others when they are down? Why kick someone when they are in pain? If I would find someone in the street suffering, and I slapped them in the face, what would that say about me? Am I so weak and pathetic, that I think the only way to attain happiness or respectability is by making other people feel like dirt? Lest you say, "he makes millions of dollars, he deserves it," is that really true? Just because a person is fortunate enough to make a good living, people have a right to be downright cruel and hateful? I am not a psychologist, but it seems to me that the only types of people who would act in such a manner are people with an extreme lack of self-worth, and a boat-load of insecurities. And for that, I feel sorry for T-Mac and Arenas.
      The Torah teaches that one should love his neighbor like he loves himself, and the Talmud elaborates with the famous statement of Rabbi Akiva that," One should not do to others what he would not want done to himself." If Tracy Mcgrady and Gilbert Arenas would not want to be taunted and ridiculed after humiliating games in their careers, they have no business making fun of Roy Hibbert.

Danny Wolfe

PS. Thank the Lord Above for real role models like Kevin Durant, who so beautifully thanked his mother for his success. (Go to 23:00 of this video, and hold a box of tissues as you watch.)