It has recently come to my attention that I'm a really dorky, no scratch that – the word dorky is itself laden with dorkiness – rather, I'm a really lame jaywalker. Now for the kids reading this at home, I don't make jaywalking a regular habit, but I am a New Yorker, so it's gotta be done every now and again.
I didn't realize how lamely I jaywalked until I saw some people on 5th Avenue doing it in a very cool manner the other day. And by cool I don't mean enviable, but rather calm and collected. There I was, on an East Side bus, headed to midtown, late for a meeting (as usual), and as the bus and all of its ten plus tons of body smashing components barreled down the street, the pedestrians on 5th Avenue couldn't have cared less.
And we were getting close. I mean there were some very close calls to be had. But these people didn't flinch, didn't look up for a moment. They just casually crossed the street, against traffic, chatting on their cell phones, making like they didn't even notice the large, high-velocity death machine that was practically under their noses.
But that's not how I jaywalk. I jayrun, actually. I'm not composed when I do it, and I don't look the least bit cool. And that's OK, because Jews are not supposed to rely on miracles.
See, when I first started becoming religious I decided that if God is in control of everything, there'd be no reason for me to go through the formality of wearing a seat belt any more. Now, at the time of my seat belt strike I was about as good a goody-goody as a sixteen year old girl could have been. (My greatest teenage rebellion was becoming an Orthodox Jew.) Needless to say, my mother was not too amused when I started refusing to wear my seat belt in the name of religion (hey, I guess I was a pretty fiesty teenager, afterall!)
But no matter how much she protested, she technically understood my reasoning - if God controls the universe then if you're meant to live, you live without a seat belt, and if you're meant to die, you die wearing one. However, as I started learning more about Jewish philosophy, I soon found out that although theoretically my argument made sense, in practical terms, I was wrong.
Sure, God could pull you out of a doozy if it was absolutely necessary and it wasn't your time to go, but we're not supposed to act in a way that forces God to bend the laws of physics just to save our tuchases. If She had to, of course God could do it, but ideally we should let nature run, well, naturally. Making wise and healthy decisions about our bodies shows that we value the lives that were given, which is also an important Jewish idea.
Now look, dorky, er, lame jaywalking isn't for everyone (namely people who try to avoid public humiliation). So waiting patiently for the light to change is always another option.
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