OMGabe

by Gabe Berman – the author of Live Like a Fruit Fly

Found In Translation

Lost In Translation is a transcendental meditation which originates innocently on screen, but soon blossoms, delicately and tenderly, outward through my soul.

I watched it for the first time tonight since seeing it in the theater fifteen years ago. And when I say transcendental meditation, I’m not referring to Maharishi’s TM. I mean transcendental, as in something that transcends.

Transcends ego. Transcends everything that makes us less human. Less beautiful. Less separate. Less loving.

Because deep in the moment, underneath everything, all that’s there is love.

And if you allow yourself to really be with this movie, if you allow your senses to open to it completely, if you surrender to the experience of it, a subtle hum of raw love will overtake you. Almost intravenously.

A raw love for the spaces between sentences and thoughts. A raw love for the uncertainty between what’s happening and what will happen. A raw love for the truth that tugs on our pants like a wide-eyed child. A raw love for a love which moves so slowly, and so solidly, we must pause to feel its presence.

I always pray to feel less sad, but if it means I’d have to feel even an ounce less alive and less content and less grateful in times like this one, I hope that prayer is overlooked and unanswered.

It’s late at night as I write this and I know the world will be right back in my face as soon as I awaken but maybe, just maybe, a trace amount of this effortlessly enlightened, lighthearted dewiness will continue to reside.

I hope the same for you.

www.LiveLikeAFruitFly.com

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I Do All Of My Own Stunts

I listened to Charlie Parker as I cooked dinner tonight.

Jazz isn’t out of the ordinary for me, and it’s not like you can listen to anything else after watching Whiplash on demand.

So it was me, and Bird, and the sound of sizzling Brussels sprouts drenched in sriracha sauce. All I needed was a glass of Cabernet and it totally would have been a scene in a movie.

It surely felt that way.

But right now, my life feels like what happens to characters after a movie ends. The credits roll, and in the theater you’re like, “I wonder if he became a famous musician after all of this? Do you think he got back together with that girl?”

And the person you’re with says, “It’s just a movie. Nothing happens with them next.”

And you’re like, “I guess you’re right.”

But you still think about it silently on the car ride home. And again before you go to sleep. “He really was a great drummer. Maybe he got a gig at the Blue Note. And I hope he stabs that J.K. Simmons bastard to death.”

And then you start worrying about him in jail after he kills his teacher. “I wonder how many push ups he could do?”

And then you start thinking about The Shawshank Redemption. “His first night in the joint, Andy Dufresne cost me two packs of cigarettes. He never made a sound.”

And then you fall asleep.

So, I’m like a movie character after the credits. Guy gets his book published, lives on the beach in Florida, guy’s father gets sick, guy moves back to New York, father dies. And then the movie ends and you turn to the person you went to the movies with and whisper, “I wonder what he’ll do next.”

I’m kind of just waiting. Seeing which way the universe will unfold. Listening to jazz. Writing this to you. Yes, you. The person reading this right now.

After I ate, I was interviewed by some blog-talk radio station and then I sat back in front of the TV. Not much else to do with this continuing blizzard outside.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was on. A true story about a writer who at the age of forty-three, suffers a stroke that leaves him completely paralyzed. Completely paralyzed except for his left eye. Which he blinks out the alphabet with.

I turned it on during a flashback scene. His father was sick and he was shaving his face for him. They jokingly mock each other back and forth and then his father says, “I remember what I wanted to tell you – I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you.”

Coming out of the flashback, voiced over, the writer says something like, “Praise from my father. We’re all children, we all need approval.”

Jesus man, what are the chances of “coincidentally” turning the TV on right at this scene? It really is like I’m in a movie.

I remember my dad’s scruffy face so well. I rubbed my face against his right after I watched him take his last breath.

And on the couch tonight, watching this movie about this guy who can only live through memories, I decided to feel grateful. Really grateful for everything.

My breathing. The heat that kicked on in the house at that moment. Etcetera etcetera.

But then I started to question it all. Once again. Is it okay to feel grateful after realizing and re-realizing the abhorrent suffering of others?

I guess the answer is yes. Anything that causes you to feel grateful is okay in my book.

And maybe that’s the answer. The answer to the question I’m always asking myself. What’s the best way to live this life of ours?

In appreciation.

In appreciation of all the little things. Always.

Because the big things just seem to happen. With or without our approval, asking for, or understanding of. They just seem to happen.

Listen, I know I’m not saying anything new here. We’ve all heard the “be grateful” rap before.

And I honestly had no idea I’d end up talking about this when I first opened my laptop. I was just thinking about that kid in Whiplash and I just wanted to write about how much I miss being young. Being young with myriad possibilities.

Alas, such is life.

And what happens to me next in this movie I’m in?

Who’s to know really.

Maybe the pages have already been written by the great scriptwriter in the sky, or maybe it’s being written as I go. Maybe it’s a quantum combination of both. No one knows for sure and be wary of anyone who professes they do.

Here’s one possibility for the next scene though: A woman found my book Where Is God When Your Loved Ones Get Sick? on Facebook and she fell in love with it. It turns out that she’s friends with Robby Krieger, the guitarist from The Doors, and since I mention his old band a few times in that book, she’s giving it to him this weekend.

Maybe he’ll tell the world about it and I end up living happily ever after.

I’d like to see a movie like that.

thank you for trading your time to read this – it really means the world to me,
gabe

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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Lazarus

What does a miracle sound like?

A dog breathing.

A dog breathing calmly. Unrestrictedly.

Specifically, Teva. My sister’s golden retriever.

I woke up up this morning to the sound of him breathing beautifully but three days ago, I found him faced down in the carpet, swollen and panting, with blood dripping from his nose.

The vet said it’s probably a cancerous tumor in his head. Like with my dad.

I called my sister as soon as I opened my eyes the next day.

She was crying.

Teva was barely moving and his left eye was now swollen shut.

I drove an hour and a half through a snow storm to get back there.

It was Sunday, and I knew he would have to be carried into the vet’s office to be put to sleep on Monday.

He’s almost a hundred pounds and I knew I’d have carry him, but only if a miracle didn’t unfold first.

During the drive, I experienced all sorts of thoughts: I’m just going to give him as much love as I can on his last day because chemo and radiation are too brutal for a dog. Why is life so awful? This is too much for me to take now. I don’t think I’ll be able to handle this so soon. Maybe I’ll just surrender all of my hopes for him because the universe is acting at as it must and maybe this is his best case scenario. How can there be a god? What’s the point of life?

But with about twenty minutes to go in the car, I sat up straight and had a change of heart:
Fuck this. I’m not going to be dictated to. Not even by divinity. He’s going to live. I don’t care how he looks or feels. I don’t care what the vet says. I don’t care what’s posted on the Internet about pure breed goldens of his age. He’s going to be okay. Miraculously. And that’s the end of it.

I turned off the depressing classical station I was listening to and allowed myself to jam out to some Zeppelin.

My sister, along with Teva whose tail was wagging, greeted me at the door.

“I don’t know what happened but his eye is less swollen and he’s been running around,” my sister reported to me.

His nose stopped bleeding by nightfall.

The vet was perplexed on Monday morning and instead of just the two of us walking out of the office after the appointment, we were accompanied by Teva and he sniffed around in the snow before hopping back in the car.

I’m looking at him now as I type to you and it’s fair to say he’s 95% better.

And I am so grateful.

So very grateful.

Now listen, I’m not prepared to say anything about this in either direction. Maybe it was a miracle. And if so, maybe it would have unfolded regardless of my “fuck this prayer” in the car. Maybe this was all fated. Predetermined. Or maybe it was a combination of chaos and dumb luck.

But I will say this: where there’s life, there’s hope.

And as tempting as it is to give up hope to soften the blow of the a worst case scenario, we mustn’t let ourselves.

Throughout history, the world has depended on the bravery of heroes.

And maybe we can expect more miracles by choosing to act more miraculously.

may god bless you,
gb

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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Keeping My Mouth Closed – Not Likely


My friend doesn’t have cancer.

I was standing right next to him when the surgeon said, “All of your pathology finally came back. All of your nodes are clear. You don’t need chemo or anything.”

Tears of relief spontaneously squirted from his face.

He hugged the surgeon, wiped his eyes, and then hugged me.

Now lets go back a few weeks.

He doesn’t have a car so I drove him to the grocery store. He’s sixty-four and I wanted to save him from catching busses in this glacial weather. Especially with surgery looming in the near future.

“What’s wrong with this fucking place?” he screamed in the middle of the pet aisle.

“What happened to the damn kitty litter? What the fuck are they doing here? ” he continued down this path to a complete coronary.

Because he was so stressed about the possibility of cancer, understandably so, I said nothing other than offering to take him to a different store.

However, it wasn’t just his health causing him to boil over. He tends to get angry at non important things often. As most of us do.

Today, I was hoping he’d have a more evolved disposition in the grocery store.

But people don’t change. Even after dodging a life threatening bullet, they don’t change.

There was only one bag of the type of kitty litter his cat likes and he totally flipped out again (just an FYI – cats shouldn’t have the right to give a shit about what they shit on).

I said nothing.

I said nothing for maybe about a second.

I considered allowing the universe just to unfold as it will. But since I’m part of the universe, I had to unfold as I will.

“Jesus man, after everything you’ve been through, you’re still going to let these little things ruin your day?”

Life is so bizarre.

And how we treat it is even more bizarre.

with love and gratitude,
gb

www.LiveLikeAFruitFly.com

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Go(o)d Luck

“My god, she’s so stunning.”

I said this to myself, about Jennifer Aniston, while thumbing through People magazine’s Red Carpet Edition at my sister’s kitchen table. I was drinking a Fresca. Which, of course, has nothing to do with anything other then it being my dad’s favorite soda. Well, it was his favorite soda. I don’t know if they have soda in heaven. Or for that matter, if there is a heaven. But if so, I hope they have Fresca in their vending machines up there. And I hope they’re free. That’s the least God could do for us.

One of my nephews, who’s ten years old, was standing behind me and looking at the pictures over my shoulder.

“All of these people are so lucky,” he said.

I straightened him out with, “Actually man, some of them are ridiculously talented actors.”

“Yeah, but they were born that way,” he responded.

To look him in the eye, I twisted my head around as far as I could like an owl and I told him that he was right.

This is when I’d normally make a pithy point about using your gifts so you can become lucky too. Or maybe I’d say something about not comparing your gifts to others. But then again, I could take this in the direction of idolization of celebrities who are probably thousands of leagues below you on the evolutionary scale.

But to paraphrase the Oracle in Matrix Reloaded, you’re just going to have to make up your own damn mind about what you want this to mean. If anything.

Because right now, the only thing I care about is what happened forty-six years ago today. My parents got married.

Is there luck in life?

I don’t know.

Is there a heaven?

I don’t know.

Is there a hell?

Yes. For fucking sure there is.

It’s the stew we sit in when we’re trapped in our haunting thoughts.

So, I’m going to get up from my laptop and figure out how to spread some kindness today.

Especially to myself.

It’s the least, or maybe the most, I can do with my day.

Maybe it’s the path to whatever heaven there is. While we’re still here.

As always, with love and gratitude,
gabe

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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Returning To The Lion’s Den

The elevator doors opened on the eighth floor of the NYU Medical Center – the Labor & Delivery floor.

People were hugging. Shaking hands. Wiping away happy tears. A brand new baby was brought into this world of ours.

Like a hummingbird sucking the nectar from a flower in full bloom, I absorbed as much of this lovely snapshot as I could before the doors closed and we continued our descent to the lobby.

I breathed and smiled.

It was exactly what I needed.

Exactly.

A minute before, I was deep inside my reoccurring nightmare of the twelfth floor.

It’s where my dad almost died three years ago in an acute care unit (before he actually died a few months later).

My friend is recovering from surgery, quite beautifully, in the adjacent room and I trekked into the city for a visit.

I hope that perfect new baby never has to see what I saw. Or feel what I still feel.

I wish, just about more thank anything, the same for you.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…

love and gratitude,
gabe

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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I Wish…

I wish I could sit on a bench on the boardwalk and stare comfortably into the ocean while seagulls glide by without feeling the restlessness of thinking I should be doing something else. I wish I can write the way Springsteen’s “Born To Run” sounds. I wish I could look into my dog’s eyes again. He was such a good boy and I can still feel his fur against my face as if last night was the night I was was ten years old, resting my head on his tummy as he breathed a few of his last breaths. I wish kindness and compassion and generosity were the measures of success. I wish I was less affected by the anger of others while waiting in line at the post office. I wish they were less angry to begin with. I wish nothing horrible happens to them or their loved ones but if something should and they’re fortunate enough to survive, I hope they return to the post office with a more evolved perspective. I wish you knew how much I believed in you. Yes, you. Regardless of your past “failures” or hard times. I wish you knew how much I loved your essence. So much so that I need to keep from crying right now. I wish I could time travel back to my youth and tell myself that almost nothing I worried about is worth worrying about. I wish my mom continues to live happily and healthily for a long, long time. I wish, more than anything, that my dad crosses over from the other side and flips, from heads to tails, the penny I placed for him on the dining room table so my belief is confirmed and I can live the rest of my life as lightheartedly as a leaf lifted off the ground by a gentle breeze.

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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Nothing Left To Let Go

I’m broken wide open.

Gloriously so.

All I am, right now, is an exposed heart.

Warm. Loving. Gentle. Full.

Unaffected by any anxiety.

It’s the way I get after seeing a truly lovely movie.

I wish I can feel this way forever.

Because I’ve felt enough of everything else.

Like the last bit of sun at the end of a summer’s day, I will sit in this for as long as I can.

I wonder if there’s anyone else in this moment who feels the same.

I hope so.

I really hope so.

with love and gratitude,
gabe

www.LiveLikeAFruitFly.com

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The Best Medicine (Maybe)

I went to sleep smiling last night for the first time in a long time.

Trying to make some sense of the day and of the world, I usually watch Eckhart Tolle talks on YouTube or videos about the quantum nature of the universe before going to bed. And that was my exact intention last night but you know how it can be with YouTube – a serendipitous “wrong” click can bring you to the unexpected right place.

I somehow found myself watching Louie C.K., Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais having a semi serious sit-down about comedy.

I didn’t uncover any answers to the Big Questions which are always ricocheting around in my head, but at least I wasn’t sad. In fact, I was pretty happy.

But maybe that is the answer.

Maybe, when you break it down, our search for enlightenment is actually a more adult way of admitting that what we’re just trying to somehow regain the smiles of our childhood.

We strive for inner peace so we can help work on world peace but maybe the truth is – we simply and purely just miss being happy more than we’re sad. Or worried. Or stressed.

If this is the case, it seems like I skipped over the steps by watching those comedic virtuosos last night. Why watch videos of Buddha level gurus when you’re really just trying to lightheartedly laugh your ass off? Just find something that leads to lightheartedly laughing your ass off and voila, you’re good to go.

But, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Not really. Because laughter, although lovely, doesn’t last.

YouTube is just another drug. And like weed or whisky, you can’t partake in it all day.

Life always sneaks back in. And although the particle theorists and ancient sages might be right when then say that everything is an illusion, we still have to live in it.

That’s why we strive for enlightenment. Because we want to maintain a light heart after the YouTube clip ends. We want to smile through whatever life throws at us. We want “happy” to be our natural state. Of course there’s a lot in life that will rattle us, but we’d like to return to happiness after the slings and arrows have settled.

How do we get there?

Together.

Together through kindness. Together through less expectation – of ourselves and each other.

And yes, together through laughter.

thank you for spending this time with me,
gabe

www.LiveLikeAFruitFly.com

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10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1


Handel’s “Concerto Grosso in F Major” is gorgeously cinematic and inspires with such simplicity and spaciousness.

It’s in my headphones now while I’m sipping a coffee at Starbucks and staring at leafless trees through a window. Birds fly in and out of frame. It’s still bright, but the sun will soon set.

My goal was to sit here and force myself to write something that contributes beauty to this world. Something out of thin air. Something that stirs souls.

But how can I compete with Handel or this water colored sky or these trees or the mysterious essence of life which surrounds me in here?

I can’t. I just can’t.

All I can do is allow myself to receive these gifts in this moment.

Maybe that’s the secret to adding beauty to the world when we’re in between ideas. We can breathe consciously and give ourselves the permission to become fully permeable to the beauty right in front of us when the opportunity arises.

It probably arises more often than we think.

And when it does, we should abide there. While we still can.

I wish everyone a healthy, happy new year –
gabe

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