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All You Got

I was first introduced to the Marcus Brothers approximately ten years ago. It was before they recorded professionally, before they had become an official band. They had written a few songs and recorded them. Someone got hold of the songs and copied them onto a CD. Someone got a hold of that someone and made their own CD. That someone passed it on to a few someones who passed it on to a few more people until it reached my sister. By extension, it reached me as well.

From the very first time I heard their music it sparked something within me. It kindled my imagination. It resonated.

Over the years they’ve become a band called 8th Day and put our professionally recorded albums. On my recent trip to New York I discovered that the Marcus Brothers had put out a new album. I immediately bought it and on my bus ride home listened to it. The bus is dark and silent. The baby is, thankfully, sleeping in the seat beside me. I put in the ear buds and begin listening. This song. Wow.

This is my favorite song. The truth hit me hard, smacked me in the face, took my breath away, made me marvel. I need to internalize this message. I’ve got to give it all I got.

 

All You Got

after one hundred and twenty-five years

you go up to heaven you climb all those stairs

they won’t ask you were you wise like Solomon

they won’t ask you were you strong like Samson

they’ll ask just one question

and you’ll give just one answer

it’s the end of the game

and only one thing matters

they’ll say did you give it all you got

 

because in this life you only have what you got

so give it all you got

 

in this world we only have what we got

so give it all you got

Such a clever play on words. We only have what we’ve got, but we’ve got exactly what we need to give it our all. That is the only thing that is expected from us; that’s what we’re capable of doing.

 

if you say it’s easy I’ll say it’s not

you gotta give it all you got

if you say it’s not for you I’ll say it’s your lot

you gotta give it all you got

if you say you’re tired I’ll say tick tock

you gotta give it all you got

you could put my album on the shelf to rot

just give it all you got.

No excuses. This is your lot whether you like it or not, it’s what you’ve got, so give it your best shot. (Put my album on the shelf to rot – I love their self-deprecating humor.)

 

after working so hard and wiping those tears

you look in the mirror you face all your fears

don’t be a fool trying to be wise like Solomon

only the weak try to be strong like Samson

I love those last two lines. Don’t be a fool trying to be wise like Solomon and only the weak try to be strong like Samson. True wisdom and strength is to be myself and not try to be like anybody else.

 

I did what I said

I got no one to blame

only one thing matters

at the end of the game

they’ll say did you give it all you got

This is a question I should ask myself every day, during every challenging moment of every day. Am I giving it all I got? Because at the end of the game, when I climb all those stairs, I want to be able to answer: Yes, I gave it all I got.

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My King is in the Field

The king is in the field.

Thank you to fifty percent of my Facebook friends for reminding me. Should I actually click on the link to chabad.org and read the article?

Maybe.

What does it mean?

The king is in the field?

If I put a question mark at the end it turns it into an incredulous tone. Can it really be that the king is in the field?

It’s obviously a metaphor.

A field is a wide open space, it doesn’t belong to anyone in particular. It’s emptiness, vastness, freedom.

The king who is normally cloistered in his palace is now in the field, open to visitors. He’s accessible, approachable.

All I have to do is close my eyes and imagine.

The field stretches, seemingly endlessly. The grass is browning and crunching under my feet. The sky is blue, scattered with clouds and rays of sun. I can feel the kings presence. I hesitate. Do I have the audacity to approach the king with my sob story? with my excuses? with my bumbling effort at a fresh start?

His presence is so palpable and surprisingly not intimidating. He smiles, invitingly waiting for me to  step forward and address him. Trembling, I lurch towards him and speak.

Dear King,

I’ve come because you are here, I’ve come because I can, because I’ve been waiting all year for this opportunity to speak with you.

There is so much I can say, I should say yet it is so difficult to express myself. There is so much that I’m afraid to say, to admit.

Dear King, I’ve screwed up, many times. You’ve told me not to do certain things and I’ve gone ahead and done them anyway. Please, don’t take it the wrong way; I didn’t do it to make you angry or to purposely defy you. It’s just that… I did it. I knew I shouldn’t, I sort of hoped that I had enough strength of character not to do it, but I screwed up. It’s so lame. I don’t even have any proper excuses.

I’m sorry. Really, I am. I can’t even say that I didn’t mean to do it because I did. I did it knowingly. Yet it’s written that a person doesn’t sin unless a spirit of folly enters them. Right?

My spirit’s been pretty folly-full. I know that. And I know that you know that too.

I want to change. I want to be a better person. I want to have a better relationship with you. I don’t want to have to rely on this once a year arrangement where I can cry, beat my chest, say I’m sorry, and wipe my slate clean.

I pause; my thoughts swirling, I’m trying to pick up on one stream of thought. Trying to express that feeling, that movement  in my heart

And yet with all the things I’ve done wrong you’ve come out here, onto my turf, into this g-d forsaken earth.  You’ve given me a chance.

So really what I’m trying to say is this:

When you go back to the palace, I’m coming with you. I’m coming back with you onto your turf. Because I love you. Because you love me. Because we both know that we’re meant to be together. We’re in this relationship together and I’m committed to our relationship.