From time to time we will be posting thoughts on motivational and inspirational concepts on topics other than New Jersey Wills & Estate Planning in Union County and Hunterdon County. We hope you enjoy these topics. Please send any feedback to Alec Borenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LeBron James Lesson
Last week I was distracted, very distracted. I wish I could tell you the reason that I was so distracted was because I was learning New Jersey Estate Planning principles all day and all night, and I just had so much on my mind that I could not concentrate. But that’s not true.
I wish I could tell you that the reason I was distracted was because I was being a good husband. My wife and I had our second child, Jack, a couple of weeks ago, and so I wish I could tell you that I was being an amazing husband last week, awake all night feeding the baby so that my wife could get some well-deserved rest. But that’s not true either. We had a baby nurse for the last two weeks, so I have been sleeping like a baby. My wife, not so much, but I’ve been sleeping well. Nevertheless, I wasn’t distracted because I am such a great husband.
The reason why I was so distracted last week, was because I spent the entire week talking about, thinking about, listening to, prognosticating about…
In case you haven’t been paying attention, LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, spent last week deciding on staying in Miami, where he went to four straight championships, or heading home to Cleveland, affectionately called “the mistake on the lake.”
When LeBron finally made up his mind, it reminded me of the lesson of this time of year. You see, in Judaism, the sign that is associated with the astrological sign of Cancer, is the Jewish month of Tammuz. And this month of Tammuz has a unique lesson to teach us.
The month of Tammuz was named after a Babylonian deity (or god) who was tragically murdered. Maimonides actually talks about the origins of this month of Tammuz, and he brings the Old Testament which talks about women who were outside of the Temple who used to cry over the story of this Tammuz. Apparently they used to show plays outside the Temple and one of the plays was about this Tammuz character, and the women would cry over him because it was such a sad story.
The point of all of this is to say that the Jewish month of Tammuz (i.e., Cancer) is named after a Babylonian god.
To take this one step further, according to Jewish mysticism (and many other traditions) every month corresponds to a part of the body or a sense. Tammuz/Cancer is deeply connected with a sense of “sight.”
Thus, the questions we can ask: Why would a month (especially in the Jewish tradition) be named after a Babylonian god? How does this time of year relate to the sense of sight? And what in the world is the connection with LeBron James?
To understand the answer we have to understand a truism of life. We live life on two levels. The first level is that which we see. We look at our personal circumstances, we look at the things around us, and we think the world is as we see it. A phrase we use all the time is, “I’ll believe it when I SEE it.”
But the truth is, true living is going beyond what we see. Often what we see is actually a trap, clouding our judgment and making it harder to understand what is truly going on and how we should react.
Tammuz epitomizes this concept. In the month of Tammuz, we are completely surrounded by pretty things. It’s summer! The trees are pretty, the flowers are pretty, the people are pretty. It’s very easy to get caught up in the world of pretty things and not understand that what we see can trap us into thinking that’s all there is.
In the same vein, when we think about people who worship gods like Tammuz, we think of people who look at the sun and the moon and the stars and they worship them. They look at the constellations and they worship them. The truth, however, is that even according to our every tradition, the constellations have tremendous power. The problem with people who worship other gods is that they focus on the power they see and not on the source of that power.
They don’t go far enough to the source, but stay on the level of what they see.
Therefore, we call attention to sight this month, so as not to get caught in the Tammuz Trap. Life isn’t about what we see, it’s so much more than that, and if we get caught on the level of what we see then you can get stuck living a life that isn’t real, isn’t true.
Interestingly, LeBron James understands this lesson. When he decided to head home to Cleveland, he wrote about how he understands that his relationship to the Cleveland area is about much more than basketball. When he sees Cleveland he sees a place that can thrive if it’s just given the chance, and he is hoping that his presence will help spark that change. He could stay in Miami, a place that epitomizes looking at pretty things, or head home to Cleveland, where his presence would mean much more. He does not see a mistake on the lake, he sees an opportunity for great change, and he wants to be the instrument of that change.
If what you see in your life is not what you want to see, then you can take tremendous heart, because what you see is not all that there is. You have a chance, right now, to start creating the life that you truly want. Not by focusing on what you see right now, but on what you want to see. If LeBron James can look at Cleveland and see the possibilities, then we should be able to look at our own lives and understand that we can do great things.
Thus, you are a great person. You are capable of many things. Don’t focus on what you see, but focus on what can be. Learning how to dunk a basketball can’t hurt either.
Alec Borenstein, Esq., is a Partner in the Wills and Estate Planning law firm Borenstein, McConnell & Calpin, P.C. with offices in Union County and Hunterdon County, New Jersey. For free Estate Planning information, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/bmclawyers or call Alec’s cell at 973-735-7941.