There are many things I could easily cite as fueling my fire – politics, debate, social justice, etc.– but lately I have not found the world to be very easy. Instead, I’ve been challenging myself to satisfy my instincts that tell me I should be drawn less by the fiery anger these other things bring out of my personality and more by things that ignite a warmer, longer-lasting fire. This warmth I can find from my old interests in reading and singing, and newer ones such as Yiddish theater and writing Jewish poetry. It is a grounding kind of fire, one that brings me back from the excitement and horrors of the world as well as the intensity of my own passions.
Social media and the barrage of information constant connection brings can be deafening, and I’ve found that for me, the unease that feeling too much passion for too long brings actually burns me away entirely. To temper this cycle of passion and exhaustion, I’ve been trying to instead invest my fuel in things that remind me who I am. And hoping that once I remember, I’ll be able to move through the world in a more purposeful way that is expressed by a commitment to others and to building a healthy Jewish community rather than to myself. It isn’t that I’m focusing on small moments and ignoring big issues; I could never do that. But there is no point in expending yourself until you disappear. I fuel my warmer, calming fire by taking the time to drink coffee, listening to entire musicals, and feeling the stillness of the outdoors after it rains. I especially try to have focus and create art in various forms, as creation is the closest you can get to connecting with the divine.
Paula Baroff is an editorial intern at the AJT.