Jewish Journal

spillers and stumbling blocks

by Michelle Azar

November 29, 2012 | 10:40 am

I am a spiller. I was pronounced a spiller many moons ago. A Shabbat moon, in fact, when I was just 4 years old in our apartment in Chicago. I was desperate each Friday night to place the kiddish cup on the table. Each week, my parents, or at least my mom, gave in to my plea, and each week, just before setting it down, I would spill it. The red liquid would collapse to the floor as I would collapse to my bed in anguish.

The silver cup from Iraq bequeathed to my father from his remained with us, despite my tumbles. When I see it now, I think of my attempts at placing it down on the table. I did see a picture from that time, and the Sabbath objects are on the counter in the kitchen rather than the dining room table, so it is possible my parents got smart and moved my target closer.

I am still a spiller, however. Today, for instance, I spilled my pretty iPhone into our doggie’s water bowl. I have been soaking it in rice as my brother-in-law instructed, and since I trust him with all things food and technological, I trust my phone will make a full recovery.

But will I. How long will we take these labels from our childhood and let them be our guides? I AM this, I AM that. All these interpretations made on our behavior from other folks while we are little and unarmed can dictate our whole life story. We may unwittingly work to make these labels true in the present, even when they are ready to be outgrown. I know, for example, how to be LESS of a spiller. Go slower. Simple. I may still spill and break and drop, but less if I am truly present and not already on the next thing I HAVE  to do.

This is why I like yoga practice so much. The practice of staying here, in breath, in movement, alone on my own mat, is for me a microcosm of this daily struggle. I like the yoga too because it pushes limits physically, yes, ( I was NEVER the athlete I was as a kid that I am now!), but pushes our limits mentally as well.

May we learn to drop our labels this week. Those we have for ourselves, and those we use to limit our relationships with others.

In peace,


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Michelle fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of Hatha Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, some 13 years ago while doing a play in San Francisco. Having...

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