OMGabe

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

The First Law Of Thermodynamics

Teva, my sister’s golden retriever, is gone.

We had to put him to sleep.

About an hour before he took his last breath, I picked him up and put him in the back of the car. We stared into each other’s eyes for a few final moments and then my sister and brother-in-law drove him to the vet.

My nephews and I sat home in silence and sniffles.

I thought the three of us could all use some candy and on the way out to the car I said, “Guys, this just shows us, once again, that just about everything we worry about isn’t worth worrying about. Love is the only thing that matters.”

You’d think this would be lost on eleven year olds, but gratefully, it wasn’t.

I wrote similar words, in my head, as rushed I to my sister’s house this afternoon:

There is love and there is consciousness, and then there is the consciousness of love. All else is an illusion, albeit, as Einstein said, a very persistent one.

Thank you, to all of you around the world, who loved my boy as well,
gabe

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Consider You’re The Lilies

Although my first thought was, “What a careless, fucking asshole,” I am so grateful for my second thought.

Which was: I am so grateful to be the type of person who notices a flower with a damaged stem and does what he can to prop the little fella up.

I’m not taking any credit for this by the way. There’s no way to actually know where our thoughts manifest from. Free will? The butterfly effect since the Big Bang? Quantum calculations in neurons? God? Fate? Destiny? Complete chaos? Midi-chlorians?

Now back to the careless, fucking asshole.

My mom’s gardener.

I pulled into the driveway last night and saw that he must have stomped on the flower while doing the spring clean-up yesterday. And, as I’ve said, I’m so grateful for my thoughts.

I’m even more grateful to be the type of person who doesn’t automatically dismiss these types of thoughts and label them as “silly”, regardless of how I become conscious of them.

But this isn’t just any flower. It’s one that my dad planted years ago. And even after Hurricane Sandy destroyed our house and caused the sewage facility to overflow which destroyed the soil, my dad’s flowers persevered. They refused to be killed and thankfully, they keep coming back.

So, I got out of my car, gently lifted his little flower head and used one of his brothers to support his body.

The truth is though, I would have done this for any old flower.

Because the same mysterious force which animates a damaged flower, simultaneously animates my sister, and my mom, and you, and myself.

So how could I not extend a kindness if I’m in the position to do so?

Denying the impulse to do what I can, when I can, would be denying a kindness to myself, and that’s the ultimate unkindness.

Earlier I said that I’m not taking any credit for these thoughts. Trust me, I’m well aware there isn’t a long line of people waiting to dole out bushels of credit my way. I know my traits aren’t ranked high on society’s value list.

And I’m really okay with that. For better or worse, I can only be the expression of the universe that I am. I just do what I feel I must, so I can rest my head comfortably on my pillow before I sleep.

I’m not expecting a medal, nor do I think I deserve one.

Then why am I writing all of this?

Because I’m compelled to.

Because, if I remind just one person to connect with kindness, I’ve fulfilled my purpose.

Successfully.

thank you for trading your time to read my words – I’m truly grateful,
gb

P.S. If you enjoyed this piece, please share it with your friends so they can enjoy it as well.

P.S.S. My mom’s gardener is actually a beautiful, gentle person. He’s a cancer survivor and after my dad died from cancer, he checks on my mom often to see if she’s okay. Which, I’m so grateful to say, she is.

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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Let My People Go

Looking for Jews, I scrolled through the contacts in my phone.

It was time, once again, for my annual “Happy Passover :)” text message.

I zipped through the A’s, B’s and C’s, but when I got to the D’s, my heart sunk into my guts and I nearly asphyxiated.

I saw “Dad”, and for the tiniest of micro-seconds, the impulse to text him shock-waved through my body as if he was sitting at the kitchen table reading the New York Times and eating a burnt bagel sliced into threes.

But reality kicked in and caught up with me towards the end of that quantum time wrinkle.

I breathed a solid breath and skipped ahead to the R’s to find my dad’s best friend.

If anyone knows what it’s like to miss my dad, it’s him. They were pals since the second grade.

We chatted back and forth a bit and it was, to say the least, really nice. He’s kind of like a conduit for me. And I have to level with you, tears are now on my cheeks as I type this.

He wished me a Happy Passover and I resumed my messaging in alphabetic order.

For those of you who don’t know, or need a refresher course, the holiday is called Passover because the Angel Of Death passed over the Jewish homes when carrying out the tenth plague.

But I got news for you, he’ll be back. For all of us.

I’ll try to live as kindly, forgivingly, gratefully, gracefully, lovingly and thoroughly until it’s my turn.

Maybe you can try as well.

We owe it to our loved ones, lost and current, and we owe it to ourselves.

thank you as always,
gb

www.LiveLikeAFruitFly.com

www.WhereIsGodWhenOurLovedOnesGetSick.com

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Skin Deep And Deeper


Being beautiful can make you famous and being famous can make you beautiful.

It’s the latter I have a problem with.

Well, not really a problem, but it’s something I think about and it registers as a bit unfair and even unjust with me.

Walk into any Chipolte on any given day, and you’ll see at least five guys or girls who, if were famous, people would lose their fucking minds over.

Lose their minds, not only because they’re famous, but also because they’ll think these guys or girls are beautiful.

Why do I have/not-have a problem with this? Because goddammit, they’re already beautiful. And already should be inflicting onlookers with awe. But they’re totally overlooked and just blending in with the burritos.

Do you know what I’m saying?

Stick these chicks in the ridiculously redundant Divergent sequel and then, like clockwork, you’ll see them on the covers of Glamour and Cosmo. Everyone will want to be them or be with them. But now they’re nothing.

And that just sucks.

See what I mean?

Okay, let me put it this way: look at the picture of these two chicks I sneakily took. If you showed them to one hundred people, most would say they’re average looking. But shove them in some lame TV show, smear a little makeup on, somehow erase the memory of the hundred people so they don’t remember seeing the initial picture, and I bet ya everyone goes gloryhole gaga over them.

When I see someone, I try to remember to also see their inner essence. And as long as they don’t ruin it as soon as they open their mouth, I see them as being better looking than than most people do.

Why isn’t inner essence vision more commonplace? Because it will throw a wrench into the system. The system is set up to keep us separated and in competition. If we were taught to see beyond outer appearances, we’d end up seeing ourselves in everyone and in everything. And the powers that be can’t have that. Because the powers that be would soon be out of power.

Thank God for you and I.

www.LiveLikeAFruitFly.com

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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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