Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Max Roytenberg


posted December 6, 2018



It’s sunny today, and there is a lovely breeze fluttering the leaves on a tree outside my window. I am re-acquainting myself with myself, pleasuring in the solitude. Writing this story for you (and myself,) is a minor distraction. Knowing ourselves can be scary, but we can get over that. We are not so bad after all, (look at all those good things we have done, rah! rah!) despite the weaknesses we know we have relative to the aspirations we have had for ourselves. It doesn’t mean we don’t have to try to be better, to achieve more, but facing our failings can make us be kinder to others.

My Bride feels that I am amazing in my capacity to forgive myself for my errors and weaknesses. But I know, and I have told her, that she, and most people, are too hard on themselves. I believe it has something to do with the constructs we build up in our minds as to what we believe is success, the goals we set. Then, given the unpredictability of life, we are disappointed when we don’t realize all of them.

But these things we dream of are not real. They are something way out in the future. Only the now is real, only the now is what we can change. Often, when we get to that future, we may not want what we aspired to. We have changed our mind as a consequence of our life experiences. Our pleasures may really arise from the incidental we may realize on our path to the future, what we encounter in our Nows. They may turn out to be what we treasure above all.

So I forgive my errors as learning experiences and aim for my goals as a spectrum rather than a single point. And I forgive my blunders as an excess of enthusiasm. I know my enthusiasms can be fierce, as we really have to want  what we want to have some chance of getting there.

We all know that people are watching what we do. A lot of what we think about ourselves may be motivated by what we believe other people may think about us. And we may worry about that. That can seriously affect our behavior. As I have gotten older, however, I find that I am not so much worried about that. The person I am more concerned about is the other person in the equation- myself. That’s the guy I have to come to terms with.

We cannot fail to develop in ourselves, (unless we are sociopaths,) some ideas about what are the right things to do in life. Maybe we absorbed it from our parents, or what we have read or seen, what our friends have said or done, but the inner us watches and judges everything we do, and passes judgement.

We know when we have violated what our inner judge has said is the right thing to do. We, sometimes, unthinking, follow our own selfish self-interest. But, often, we are motivated to act in opposition to our short-term interests because it is the right thing to do according to the values we have absorbed. When we do the wrong thing it stays with us.

That judge is difficult to escape. He/she is there every time we encounter ourselves in our thoughts. The resume awaits whenever the moment arrives, springing unbidden to the front of our thoughts. We have many ways to distract ourselves from thattoday, and that escape may tempt us powerfully, but we cannot know ourselves if we are not in touch, fully acquainted, with that inner self. We cannot be at peace if we are not in harmony with that inner self.

We all know people who publicly espouse the public good, and privately pursue the narrowly private good. We see a public example of that each day on our television screens. Could we live with ourselves if we were that kind of person? Does that take self-delusion?

Most of us aspire to being the kind of people our children could respect. We have read them all the lessons we believed would help them on their way. We all have had our aspirations to achieve positions and places, situations in life, that we feel are appropriate for the kind of people we truly are. We know we richly deserve even better than we have got. Hopefully, we are happy with the portion that we have earned or been given.

It is only in our solitudes that we truly confront the people that we are, without pretension. Some people are able to be more like their real selves in public, but most of us present to others the person they believe others want or expect to see in us. How fortunate we are if we have those in our circle with whom we feel free to be the person we really are.

Deep in our heart of hearts, we know of all the compromises we have made with the principles we truly believe in. They weigh on us. We have corrected where we could along the way. For what remains undone which cannot be fixed, we have to find in ourselves the generosity to forgive ourselves as we will forgive others.

This is the There we have arrived at, in the Now we are living. This is the Now wherein we can live all the principles we believe in if we so choose. This incidental is the real thing, the life we did not necessarily aim for. We are really alive only in the Now in which we find ourselves.
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Inna Loewen
  • Canadian Friends of Hebrew University
  • Saper Agencies
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • GTP
  • Asper Family
  • Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW)
  • Winter's Collision
  • Joel Dudeck Myers LLP
  • Imperial Soap
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • HUB
  • Holiday Inn
  • Thorvaldson Care
  • shoppers drug mart
  • Orthodox Union
  • Shinewald family
  • Maric Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Jack and Debbie Lipkin
  • Norwood Dental Centre
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Josef Ryan
  • Winnipeg Drapery
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Dr. Gary Levine
  • Fetching Style
  • Collectibles Canada
  • Erickson Motors
  • Artista Homes
  • Superlite
  • Munroe Dental
  • Cliff Graydon
  • Myrna Dreidger
  • Jim Gauthier
  • JCFS Winnipeg
  • Ross Eadie
  • John Orlikow
  • Chisick Family
  • Steven Fletcher
  • Mohinder Saran
  • Canadian Magen David Adom
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Elaine & Bernie Lofchick
  • Ron Zimmerman
  • Ralph Irwin
  • broadway law
  • Grant Kurian GKT
  • Seer Logging
  • Nikos
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.