May 4, 2012 ~ 12 Iyar 5772 (27th Day of the Omer)
While many flocked to Jazz Fest, this year, we took the kids to the Zurich Golf Classic. I’m not sure you can find two more opposite experiences! On the greens, everyone is hushed with each stoke and you would be out of place without khaki shorts, a polo shirt, and preferably, a sporty visor. There is a serenity in the air and lots of neatly manicured grass and trees. At the Fairgrounds, there is noise everywhere, coming at you in every direction. No two people look the same and there is commotion and constant stimulation all around. You don’t find yourself looking up or down at the scenery, but rather straight ahead, following the rush of the crowd and engaged with the music at hand.
The dance moves are a bit different too. Elyon found himself up against the ropes at the ninth hole as a drive shot bounced on and over the green and rolled quickly right at him. With good reflexes he did a split and the ball rolled right between his legs! At the Fest, I doubt you’d see too many ballet moves – more like lots of twists and grooving.
Obviously, both events are terrific and they embody two very different emotional and spiritual experiences. But perhaps what was most striking for me, was that this year, I could not go to Jazz Fest. On the Jewish calendar we are in the middle of the Sefirat HaOmer period, counting the days between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot (Today is day 27). Traditionally, much of the first 33 days is observed as a mourning period, remembering the sudden and tragic deaths of Rabbi Akiva’s thousands of students. One of the customs observed in this time is to refrain from live music concerts and dancing. This year, all seven days of Jazz Fest fell out during this period, so we chose to pass it up. (A number of years ago I actually created a “10-Year Jewish Jazz Fest Calendar” indicating which days of the festival each year fall out during a non-mourning period!)
But in choosing to pass up the Fest, we found the gift of a totally other kind of enriching experience. I am not yet a golfer. (My older colleagues keep telling me that I have to use the word “yet” in this sentence.) My brothers love the game, but I have tended to favor more team oriented sports. But, this past Sunday, I was able to appreciate the wonderful qualities of the quiet outdoors and the calming energy of being a golf spectator. It was a helpful attitude adjustment to appreciate that perhaps we don’t really miss out on life; we simply find ourselves with an opportunity to experience something else.
“There is a time for every season; a time for every experience under heaven…”
See you in shul!