When we were in Sedona back in October, we attended Shabbat services. During her sermon, Rabbi Magal commented that she was trying to stop “laminating life.” In other words, she had grown acutely aware of how fruitless it is to try and preserve the temporal, to hold tightly onto people, things, experiences.
I thought instantly of a Mother’s Day card my daughter gave me when she was sixteen. She had written on two sides of a sheet of paper all the reasons why she loved me. They spanned the mundane: “She brings me pizza rolls from the store” to the humorous: “She married a tall man,” to the tear-provoking: “She has more hugs to give than anyone in the world. She loves me unconditionally.”
Receiving such a paean was thrilling. So thrilling, in fact, that I didn’t want anything to happen to this 8×11 sheet of adoration. The Monday after Mother’s Day I rushed out to Kinko’s to laminate it and kept it close at hand one of the shelves in my kitchen cubbies. It’s still there, and I take it out every once in a while to enjoy again.
Rabbi Magal hit upon something; I have come to regret encasing my daughter’s loving and exuberant words in rigid plastic. Granted, in the scheme of regrets, this is small potatoes; but the lesson is large. I cannot feel the paper that my daughter touched and connect to the teen Emma was then. Her note cannot be folded and tucked into a small pocket. It will never gain that patina of age, creases deepening, its lavender painted cover fading over time. True it will never disintegrate but in my impetuous move to preserve it “as is” forever, something deeply tangible was lost.
The rabbi’s caution against laminating life has stayed with me. Life’s only constant is change; if we use both hands to grasp everything in sight, we leave them useless for giving or receiving.
What of your life have you laminated? What was gained and what was lost?