My Crazy Jewish Brother

May 21, 2005

Sitting at a fancy New York restaurant, with some important people, he notices a person falling off a building. Stunned, with an open jaw, he doesn't know what he just saw. But indeed, it was a suicide.

He can't sleep that night, so he calls me up at midnight (3AM, NY time). "Hey man, I can't sleep. I've been thinking about death and all, and I think I really want to do some giving. I want to get involved with CharityFocus," he'll say with some four-letter expletives thrown in between.

I crack up. But that's the kind of friend he is. Every so often I get a call at midnight, or a once-in-a-year email, but almost always it is at a turning point in his life. On one hand, he'll talk about meditation and service and on the other hand, it's about alcohol, cigarettes and women. Still, he's a magnet for spiritual people; he'll shares stories about a mystic he met in a remote basement of New York or a yogi he ran into on the roads of Idaho or a secretary who ended being a palmist that told him his future or his desire to visit India at least once "just to see what happens".

Every email or phone call of his had two things in common. The opening: "My Dear Indian Brother." The ending: "Your Crazy Jewish Brother."

Yesterday, I got a note from him with those two phrases, and couple lines in between -- "Bro, I got called to Iraq. I want to talk to you."

While I didn't get to talk to my 'crazy Jewish brother', a part of him is walking with me and a part of me is headed to Iraq. Sometimes I wonder if we're all the same pilgrimage, but don't know it yet.

still haven't had the chance to email majority of my non-bayarea friends about this pilgrimage, so he probably didn't know that I am foot in India right now. But "My Crazy Jewish Brother, I'm walking right there with you."

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"Service doesn't start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take."

"Real privilege lies in knowing that you have enough."