Zusya was a devout Hassidic Rabbi known for his devotion to studying the Torah and his uncommon goodness, so his congregation was amazed one morning when he appeared before them looking frightened and disheveled. “Zusya, Zusya, whatever is the matter?” someone asked and the answer surprised. “Oh, I have had a terrible night,” Zusya wailed, “it was terrible. I had a shocking dream that the Angel Of Death came to see me and told me what it was that he will ask me at the hour of my death.” The people couldn’t believe that a man so devout and blameless as Zusya was, would have anything to fear from the Angel of Death.
“Rabbi, Rabbi! Why would you, of all people, fear the Angel of Death’s questions?” The Rabbi ran his fingers through his hair until it stood on end.
“Because…because….” he stuttered, “because the question that the Angel Of Death will not ask me is “Zusya, Zusya, why were you never Moses leading your people out of Egypt and across the Red Sea?” The people stared at him.
“Of course not,” they murmured.
“No! No! And the question the Angel will not ask me is not, Zusya, Zusya, why were you never Elijah, raising the dead?… The question, the angel will ask me is….is… is… Zusya! Zusya! Why were you never Zusya.?”
I don’t know about you, but I need to remind myself of Zusya’s story over and over again. It is easy, isn’t it, to allow our self doubting voices to convince us that all of our aspirations and dreams are out of reach and undeserved. This soon becomes a reality as we let go our creative projects and retire to be someone less than we want to be. Just as Zusya was afraid he had.
A long, long, time ago I made a promise. Before I was a rural person i worked in a City where I ran a group for women trying to escape from violent relationships. One of the women in that group was a bright, vivacious person who really looked as though she was on an upswing in her life when I left to ‘go rural.’ One of her aspirations was to write a novel that would tell the stories of women like her and break the silence about family violence. Unfortunately, she took her own life before she achieved that aim and at her funeral, I decided I would write that book for her.
Well, first of all, other things got in the way and I didn’t get to begin it. But in 2008 I completed the Whitireia Polytechnic Advanced Diploma in Creative Writing by writing the first draft. At the time I thought I was nearly there, almost had a book written. But, it has taken me another five years of drafts, edits and other agonies. Oftentimes I heard those unfriendly voices in my mind telling me to quit. But now it’s done and will be published by Fraser Books, Masterton. Watch for the launch of my pre-order page soon!!