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Susan Bodnar

A few months ago, our dog suddenly went blind. He is learning to get around and we are getting used to his new behavior and needs. I guide him through the streets, calling out, “Step up, step down, look out.”

This reminds me of the days when we strolled our kids over the jarring humps of New York City streets. We used to sing to them, “The road is very bumpy; so very, very bumpy; we are taking a ride that is so very, very, very bumpy.” We intuitively wanted to teach them how to pair the roughness of life with their mother and father’s tender voices. Survival depends upon sensing goodness in spite of the hard patches.

One form of spiritual schmutz is forgetting this truth.

Like many parents who show up at my office, I have often wanted to launch my kids into life perfectly. Not being able to do so torments many sane parents into some form of Upper West Side mid-life angst. But perfection is an illusion, and the absence of pain is a myth. Fostering a healthy relationship to adversity is the best thing we can do for our kids and ourselves. The road is very bumpy! Hardship is more the norm than not.

Though we learn to live with the reality of pain, we also need to learn how to use it to better enable us to receive those great blasts of joyous wonder that also come our way.

For your seder table, consider seeking the wisdom about survival that is contained in the Haggadah. We know the story teaches us that we survived hardship. Now ask, “how?”

photo1Susan Bodnar, PhD, a practicing psychologist and an adjunct associate professor at Teachers College of Columbia University, is David Schatsky’s wife and the mother of Ronen and Binah.