Chicagoan Hasidic Spirit Guide
A few days ago I was walking around downtown Chicago in the late evening. The air was still humid from the preceding day. It rained periodically throughout, now, soaking the dark asphalt. The streets colorful from the reflecting array of flashing signs and stoplights making me glow a nice green yellow color as I strolled. The grates at my feet vented the subway beneath billowing clouds of thick steam every hundred feet or so on the sidewalk. Tomorrow is a workday, so I stroll alone, my friends were early to bed. I’m currently job hunting a, to my surprise, grueling and exhausting process that leaves me feeling defeated at the end of everyday.
I walked and walked exploring, taking in the people and the atmosphere of a potential new city to inhabit. The ‘after rain in the city’ smell was pungent, accompanied by the stale beer undertone released from a broken concealed forty in a soaked paper bag on the ground, what a drag for that bum. Pods of hybrid looking guys wearing polo shirts, Seven jeans, over-gelled hair, blinded from the world surrounding them by their fog of Armani Aqua Di Gio cologne, stomped by bro-ing it out hard, talking about the evenings viable female conquests while they hit and pat each other in homo erotic ways playing it off as manly affection. Couples walked briskly arm and arm whispering sweet nothings to each others ear, giggling as they made their early exit from the bar without any of their friends noticing. I think to myself, do these people work?
I diverge from the main road, bored of seeing the same kind of dupe that unfortunately often occupies this tract. I broke down a darker road. Through one of the steam flowing grates materializes a Hasidic Jew. He asks me for a few dollars because he is trying to get he, his wife, and seven children, Aaron, Daniel, Rachel, Esther, Jacob, Joshua, and Mara, – yes he did list them all – to Israel. I gave him the few singles I had in wallet and said “B’chatz L’cha” (which means good luck in Hebrew), and began to walk away. The man then runs around to my front and points at me and said in his best shtetl-ese, “You look troubled, everything ok my boy?” I wanted to answer him honestly, I’m in the process of getting over an overseas dalliance and currently job hunting, I was pretty down. I simply told him, “I’m currently looking for work and its tough.” (I felt bad saying that to a person who has become desperate enough to beg). He looked at me with the Jewish parental ‘I know you’re not telling me everything’ glare, like the one my mother gave me when I would stumble in the front door from a night out during high school. He then put his hand up in a stop position; he clears his throat of a mighty tickle and says (and I shit you not), “Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.”
I began to have one of those moments in film when a main character’s inner voice works out a curveball conflict. In real time, these cognitive discussions always last a few minutes, but in the movies, no time passes. My mind is asking itself a million questions, where did this guy come from? Is he my spirit guide? I didn’t think my spirit guide would look like that; do I really look that depressed? After going through a few more questions, my internal one-way conversation is cut off by a mettlesome shaking of my head. I then asked him, “did you come up with that?” He responded, “no I read it in my studies this morning, its Rashi, smart guy, huh?” – Rashi was an old Rabbi who wrote one of the first interpretations of the Talmud, Jewish Law – Smiling and feeling enlivened, I told him that his quote was timely and exactly what I needed to hear. I gave him a larger bill from my wallet and said, “Todah Rabah,” (thank you in Hebrew). His goodbye was spot on, beautifully predictable. In a soft most typecast of Hasidic Jew voice he said, “Chin up, next year in Jerusalem.” He then turned around and disappeared into the twirling steam cloud from which he appeared.