Thursday, February 19, 2015

Open Apology to Anyone Who Has Ever Texted Me

Dear Henry, and for that matter, anyone who is ever sent me a text message,
      I have to apologize for being so very bad at responding to your texts in a timely fashion. You see, dear Henry, and thousands of readers out there, the other day I had to send out dozens of text messages to recruit for a program we were running. Doing this chore with the fancy shmancy IPhone 6 was no easy task, but there was a cool feature. Apparently, on the iPhone, when you type in a number that you texted before, it automatically pulls up the whole texting conversation, from the last time you sent a message. I quickly realized there were many people to whom I owed a response; some people 
last texted me several weeks ago, and I realized that over the last few weeks they were probably anxiously checking their phones just waiting for that long awaited text from me. I figured they were waiting with as much anticipation for my text as I am anticipating consuming my Better half's legendary shabbos desserts. I thought to myself, "Danny, your a pretty swell guy. Your a responsible dude. What's going on big guy? Why so many unanswered texts? Don't you know that is more rude than a very rude person? Do you not care about the other person's feelings? Do you think you are so special and such a big shot you simply don't have time for them? That's messed up dude."
         Then I thought about it for a few minutes and I said, "Hey Dan-o, don't be too hard on yourself. Let's think for a minute why you don't respond to these text messages right away. The reason appears to be that every day, you do what you love doing: sitting down, meeting with good folks. During your meetings, sometimes, you get texts. But, you think it is rude to respond to the text whilst speaking to other human beings, so you go ahead and wait to respond to the text message, so that you can give the person to whom your currently
speaking the full attention they deserve. That's a good thing dude, don't be too hard on yourself. Sure, you should block out fifteen minutes every night to respond to the days' texts so you don't get too far behind, but by responding to the person texting you right now, you are basically saying to the person with whom you are speaking, " sorry partner, but you simply are not so important. The mysterious person behind the buzz in my pocket is more worth my time than you are. Sorry for being so blunt."
      So, to all the thousands upon thousands of you reading this blogg who regularly wait in anticipation for my text messages, please forgive me, I sincerely will try to get better about this.  But not at the expense of the person speaking to me at the same time you decide to text me. 

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Have you ever Looked at a Snowflake?

Dear Hank,
      This morning as I was walking home from synagogue on a lengthy two mile trek, I decided I would utilize this time for some good old fashion Danny Time. A great rabbi mentor of mine often spoke about how we live in a world where we are scared to be left to ourselves, constantly flanked with our Beats by Dre or Monster DNA headphones as the case may be, scared of silence, preferring to go to clubs where they blast "house music"which to my untrained ears simply sounds like a drunk dude banging on some dirty pots and pans. As I was walking up the street, I literally stopped in my tracks, much like a little deer cub named Bambi would stop in her tracks at the sight of a red Ford pickup truck speeding quickly towards her on an empty highway somewhere in Montana,  as one single, elegant snow flake danced down from heaven, and landed on my trendy Macy's jacket I purchased five years ago in a mall in SoCon (Southern Connecticut). I looked, and literally stopped walking, despite it being freezing, and awkwardly admired the single snow flake that fell on my black coat. It looked like a hexagon from 11th grade geometry class on Barry Bonds' steroids, decorated to perfection with little flowers and branches on each prong of the hexagon. My mouth literally dropped open in sheer admiration at this single snowflake, basking in G-d's brilliance. At first I thought this snow flake was possibly an aberration or some sort of fluke, or thread stitched into my jacket, but as the snow kept magically descending, I literally stopped to admire it  in the middle of the street another five times, and each time, the snow flakes were as perfectly symmetrical as the time before.  I was immediately reminded of the Rambam's (Maimonides) timeless words when he wrote, "How does one come to love and be in awe of G-d? By contemplating His wondrous actions and creations, and discerns in them His brilliance which has no end, immediately he will love and praise...and desire tremendously to know His Great Name." By contemplating G-ds creations in nature,  in the form of this pristine, perfect snow flake, I felt like I had attained a closeness to Him that rivals the feeling of closeness and connection I felt to G-d on Yom Kippur, or while I was praying at the holy Western Wall.
      This transformative and powerful experience reminded me of a very powerful lesson. The truth is, being from the great Rocky Mountain State, and then moving to the East Coast, I have seen my fair share of snow. I probably have experienced hundreds of snowy days in my years. And yet, I don't think I ever once stopped to acknowledge its beauty and how wondrous of a creation that G-d had made. Usually I complain about how it complicates our lives, messes up the roads or makes my socks wet and smelly; but I never had noticed its sheer purity, beauty, and immense detail. Once I did notice it though, it totally transformed my perspective, my mood and my overall well being. And I ask myself, how many other things are there in the world that I simply have never bothered to notice?  How many other wondrous creations did the Almighty gift wrap for me to enjoy that I simply ignored? It is incumbent upon us all to look in the mirror honstly and ask one simple question: Have we ever looked at a snowflake?

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff; Savor it

Dear Henry,
       Last Wednesday my family and I decided to embark upon our first journey since we our little princess was born. It didn't take long until I noticed that as hard as it was to get out of the house with five us, with six, it was nearly impossible. But thank the L-rd we were able to pile into the car, and all get our seat belts snuggly on. Besides for my two week old baby bawling like I did after watching Cinderella Story when I was 18 , and my two year old screaming because he is a middle child, there was a certain serenity that overcame us all in the car. I began to take a deep breath as I pressed the button on the garage door opener. But after a few seconds, I noticed, to my horror, the garage was not opening. I tried again, but to no avail. I remained as calm as Tom Brady was, down by 3 points in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, as I figured the garage door was stuck on some ice, and I began to dig around the garage door, to help it open. But when I clicked the opener, again, the silly door did not budge, the same way I wouldn't budge if you tried to cut me in a line to get cake. At this point all my four children were shrieking, as we shlepped them out of the car, and sent them dutifully back upstairs.
      That night, an incredible young strapping lad who we will call Dru came over and helped me open the garage so I could pull the car out; but when we shut it, we found that the silly garage would not reopen. That night, about 14 inches of snow fell innocuously on my unsuspecting car. For the next week, as we would load the car, we would be holding our children like footballs as we hurdled down our snowy icy staircase en route to our frozen beauty on wheels.
       The next day, I woke up to notice that the weather had reached a crisp -11 degrees Fahrenheit. As I walked to the sink to try to make myself an intensely caffeinated beverage, to my horror, the water did not turn on. Apparently, because my garage was operating manually, it was kind of cracked open, which let the frigid air into my garage, and this froze the water pipes. This meant no water, no showers, and best, no flushing the potty.
      What I wanted to discuss, dear Henry, is that these two experiences, (namely having my garage break, and my water freeze,) led me to a deeper understanding of what my 1st grade teacher Rondi used to sing to us in a song that she presumably wrote: "Don't it always seem to be that you don't know what you got till its gone; they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot." Henry, I will be honest with you. Despite loading my children in the car several times a day conveniently by using our indoor garage, I never stopped to feel grateful for being blessed with the ability to make use of such an amazing invention. Several times a day, every day, my kids walked through my warm house into a reasonably temperate car sitting cozily in the garage. With one slight movement of my index finger our car whizzes out, and we are on our way. I not once ever stopped to consider how convenient this garage makes our life, and how fortunate I am to be able to make use of it.
       More importantly dear Henry, is that I don't think I ever once stopped to consider how blessed we are to be able to make use of running water whenever we so desire. Without running water, not only would I be a zombie, being forced to function in the slow lane, but on a deeper level I would not be able to live in sanitary conditions with a working toilet, and more depressingly, I would not be able to survive without being able to drink water; as Matisyahu himself says in his best song ever, "If you got no water, how you gonna survive?"
      These experiences have shown with pristine clarity that happiness is not the attainment of money, nor wild and crazy escapades across the world; but rather if one is able to perceive the myriad of gifts in his life. The key to happiness is not  to sweat the small stuff, but to savor it.

Forever yours,
Danny Wolfe