Category Archives: Religion

An altar of broken fragments

In a previous post, I said I don’t need to find meaning in Natan’s death. I can’t believe that G-d needed another angel or that I survived because of a special plan for me. I guess I don’t believe in modern-day miracles, at least in the form of individual events revealing divine agency. My sense is that I’m not really so significant that G-d would need me to do particular things. But even still, losing Natan has spurred an epistemological crisis for me. My sense of my own self has changed, because obviously my plans for the future have been corrupted unalterably.

I have, for example, entirely lost interest in what I do, which at the moment means being a doctoral student writing my dissertation. It’s not depression, because I am motivated to do so much else – write this blog, talk to friends, read anything not having to do with what I work on. I just no longer am interested in the meaning the topic I write about previously held for me.

I want to do something else. Problem is, that something else I want to do is actually what I’m already on the way to doing. I want to teach at a university level. It’s not like I want a new career, I just want to be there already. I’m not prepared to set the clock back 3 years by starting a new project. So what can I do to make what was my life before pregnancy meaningful again? Because I am finding that academia is not just a job, nor is it like “school” in earlier days where I could just write the damn paper or exam regardless of any passion. But it’s nearly impossible to just sit down at my computer and plug away for the sake of finishing a project that before my pregnancy encompassed most of my time and happily dominated my thoughts, but now seems utterly uninteresting. The only real choice is for me to just finish the thing, but I seem incapable of just doing anything, of trying just to get by.

This post’s title refers to a quote from Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid, “I will build an altar from the fragments of my broken heart.” But not only is my heart broken, the fragments themselves are broken. The pieces of my heart before this loss – my family life, my plans for children and for a career – I know they are changed but I’m not sure yet how they fit together.