Ok, you’re right. It’s not just any book; it’s my book. And my free—ish association goes to the song lyrics, “It’s my party I can cry if I want to”. And maybe this says something about the connection between joy and sorrow, at least in my life, and in ways, my book as well.
I like the association, and it’s a bit like my idea of “talking out loud” (I have a whole chapter on this subject). Talking out loud, internally or externally, can lead to new thoughts, or old thoughts that become available, and much more. And for now the notion that I don’t have to have just one set mood is freeing.
Okay, so you ask, what is the title of the book? Okay, already, I’ll tell you. It is The Human Climate: Facing the Divisions Inside Us and Between Us; and Dignity Press is publishing it. Another point that has proven important to me is the number 18 in the date of publication. At first I hoped it would be the beginning of 2018. What a kick, to have a book come out on January 18th of 2018. And I admit, it might have even been a thrill to have a book be out by 2008, since I was already at work on it. But alas, even if the book is small (130 pages if you’re asking), the process and progress went in fits and starts, the latter day vision and version as much a shedding of other books and manuscripts that had to be discarded if not forgotten, as anything else.
I am coming to the number 18. The website Thought.Co says something about the number 18 in Judaism, and yes, you’re right, I use it because I am Jewish, but perhaps you could already tell by my way of talking—at least in this particular missive. Written there is the following: “Because it means ‘life,’ the Chai is consequently a symbol that captures an important aspect of Judaism. For Jews, Chaim (the plural form of the word) symbolizes the value of life and the hope that supports it. It also represents the will to live and serves as a reminder to the Jews to live and protect life.”
There is a reference to the use of multiples of the number 18 used as money gifts for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and other occasions which in some way merit or call up the association. And I am pretty sure many of you are familiar with the term “L’Chaim” whether from a toast or from “Fiddler on the Roof”, or both. It has a happy connotation, the idea of toasting to the positive, to the possible.
I probably have more superstitions than I even know of and I can’t exactly claim the good luck of 18 being one of them. This is because I think of it as more of a wish than any assuming of good luck. The luck feels more something present in the doing, the having– the owning of the experience.
There are so many things that no book will do, certainly for me. This book, for example, is shorter than I thought it would be. It took me longer than I thought it would (I confess I just typed in “older” instead of “longer”) and yes there is the fact that I would have wanted to be younger when my one big (emotionally so) book would in fact come into being.
And yet maybe I can take advantage of the momentum of that number 18 coming up any second to wish myself some of the aspects of life that can be good. For one, I can wish for the book (and myself in so doing) that it be what it is, who it is. I can wish that I be who I am as much as possible in what I write about the book and its content, and what I say about it as well. I can admit to the book being a reflection of how I think and feel and write, even if it will not meet the criteria of those more studious than me. And I can admit to the fact that I put lots and lots of blood, sweat and tears into this, even if at moments it feels too thin for that to be true.
I can thank the book and the process for reinforcing the limitations of any and all of us, in realizing that any book—to me at least—that I would write, would be bound to be a beginning. I didn’t know this really, at the book’s beginning but I’m compelled to realize it now. I can only write what I can, as the person I am, in the context in which I live, bound by my prejudices even as I work to modulate them with more awareness and the capacity and will to pause in the middle.
I hope you will join me in partaking of coming to know what lies in this book, but at the very least I thank you for looking at these words that testify to the dignity of my attempts.