Friday, April 2, 2010

Did you see My Central Park?

I found two silver hairs in my beard a couple of weeks ago, a discovery which has unnerved me considerably. Certainly, I’ve been gaining Reed Richards silver at the temples for a year or more, but beard silver – all right, beard gray – seems somehow older to me. And I can’t write these hairs off to my vitiligo, either. I feel like a disqualified parah adumah.

I informed my family on my last birthday that I have decided to start subtracting years rather than adding them, but my body seems to have missed the memo.

On the whole, I shouldn’t complain. Thank Gd a million million times over, I can lift more weight now than at any time since college and I carry my kids all over the place, I am free of chronic illness, I have no bald spot and my hairline hasn’t receded (much). All the same, I can feel the age coming on.

And going to Central Park yesterday added to that feeling, when I realized that despite going to high school in Manhattan, and dorming in Manhattan for college and semichah, I’d almost never been to Central Park. I saw Belvedere Castle and the Great Lawn for the first time yesterday. It was great to see it through my children’s eyes, but it also made me ponder the things I’ve been missing – and what else I risk missing, as time flies and the "silver" accumulates.

We lived in Rhode Island for four years, and other than two trips to Plymouth, one trip through New Hampshire and Vermont and frequent trips to Conimicut and to a small Massachusetts town the name of which I can’t remember, we didn’t really do any sight-seeing. This also despite the fact that my Rebbetzin commuted almost daily to Cambridge for two of those years.

We lived in eastern Pennslyvania for eight years, and other than a trip with my kids to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, a trip to a craft fair in Effort, a trip to Bushkill Falls and one trip to Hershey, again, we didn’t really travel. Not to Jim Thorpe, not to the local caves, not to Philadelphia, not anywhere.

And now we’re in Toronto, in a country that prides itself for its outdoors, and again we have no plan to actually see anything.

Why? Because I consistently create a work schedule that doesn’t allow for trips, which is all the more true now that I am on a kollel schedule. And because I get antsy when I'm actually travelling. And because I feel guilty for stepping out.

But from a religious perspective, my trip to Central Park reminded me of the line attributed to Rabbiner Samson Raphael Hirsch, that Gd will ask us one day, “Did you see My Alps?” And from a secular perspective, I watch the silver grow and spread and I don’t want to miss things because of the assumption that they will always be there for me, since, clearly, they won’t.

Time to start making a list of things to see in Canada…


  1. If you haven't seen Niagara Falls yet, stop and see it on your way back. The view is from the Canadian side, but that area is very commercial and you are looking at it from a distance. The US side is a beautiful park called Goat Island (between the two falls), and you can get right up close to the Falls on Luna Island, which divides the Bridal Veil Falls from the American Falls. Two or three hours is plenty of time to see the sights on one side or the other.

  2. Take a day trip to Algonquin Park in the fall when there are fewer tourists and the colours are AMAZING!!

    Or just to the top of the CN Tower.

  3. "a disqualified parah adumah"

    I've posted on the Rav Hirsch story myself in the past and also thought you would enjoy this photo, which I took on one Chol Hamoed in Central Park which is my absolute FAVORITE.

    I love Central Park and think it is one of New York's greatest treasures!