Hustle & Flow

“It’s been 13 days since my last confession,” I chuckle at myself. I am a Jew, so there is no confession, only the super bowl Day of Atonement that comes at the end of the Days of Awe, Yom Kippur. One day a year we gather it all together in the parachute sailcloth of “I’m sorry.” I like to think of it as efficiency in practice. I do wonder who decided how long cleansing takes: once a week in a dark box of colander-windowed solitude or annually without food or water for a day; or a yearly month-long duration of sun-up to sun-down deprivation; a life of silent poverty? What is the equation that gets us to “clean” after the grit and grime.

My son’s fingers fly across the Rubik’s Cube these days. He tells me it is muscle memory now that he has learned the algorithm. Muscle memory. That’s a little like it is for me during this lead up to the Jewish New Year, the birthday of the world, as we taught him to call it when he was little. Something drops into grief at this year on/off, year anew/again, turning time. Lower than low at this point in the cycle, sinking sink hole of some nothingness.

I’ve been quiet for the past 13 days. My voice caught in the wind of a not-thick-enough skin. I find the world a harsh and hard habitat. Gusted from side to side, the hurricane of what-is wrecks me even as I stand tall and steady, quiet in the background, so the boy’s fingers can continue their route to resolution.

And some days that’s all it is between me and losing my way – the boy and his cube. The fact that every year, at this time of year, we celebrate and then we atone. We reflect and then we apologize, looking to see where we trespassed the terrain.   A year feels like a decade (or ten) when the heart is heavy with the heat of Hustle and Flow.

See… man ain’t like a dog. And when I say “man,” I’m talking about man as in mankind, not man as in men. Because men, well, we a lot like a dog…We territorial as sh*t, you know, we gonna protect our own. But man, he know about death. Got him a sense of history. Got religion. See… a dog, man, a dog don’t know sh*t about no birthdays or Christmas or Easter bunny, none of that sh*t. And one day G*d gonna come calling, so you know, they going through life carefree. But people like you and me, man, we always guessing. Wondering, “What if?” You know what I mean? So when you say to me, “Hey, I don’t think we should be doing this,” I gotta say, baby, I don’t think we should be doing this neither, but we ain’t gonna get no move on in this world, lying around in the sun, licking our[selves] all day. I mean, we man. I mean, you a woman and all, but we man. So with this said, you tell me what it is you wanna do with your life.  ~~ From the movie by Craig Brewer, Hustle and Flow, which tells the story of DJay, a Memphis pimp in a mid-life crisis, attempting to become a hip-hop artist. Paramount Pictures, 2005

To me, DJay is Torah – the impossible story  – consumption and continuity and change. Humans hanging on, even when it seems like a bad idea, because the choice to not is not a choice;  because we are, “…people like you and me, man…always guessing.  Wondering, ‘what if?'”

©Gabriella Strecker, 2016

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