This month I reread one of my favorite books, "My Name is Asher Lev." I read this classic for the first time in college and immediately became addicted to anything written by Chaim Potok. I carried his History of the Jews, "The Wanderings" around for years. I can't really explain why I lugged that book around other than he was one of those authors that captured me and made me want to immerse myself in anything he wrote.
Having been raised in a tight-knit religious community where people were often expected to follow a given path and carry a specific worldview, I connected with the small Jewish community the Levs lived in. The book tells Asher Lev's story from the time he is a pre-schooler until he reaches an age when it's time to make life and work decisions.
Asher's desired life path of an artist doesn't follow the plan his parents and religious community would like him to follow. Asher wrestles with the obvious gift of art he possesses and questions why God would give him such abilities and then place him in a place where those abilities are not welcome.
When he becomes a young man, Asher is introduced to a famous painter who becomes both father-figure and art teacher. This mentor urges Asher to be true to himself and not settle for a life that conforms to his community while denying the talents and passions inside.
For so many reasons, this book still stirs something deep inside of me to be true to what I know of myself. And I am reminded these are the same emotions I felt when I first read it.
Back when reading "My Name is Asher Lev" in college, I decided if I ever had a son, I would name him Asher. That dream of having a son was realized twelve years ago this week.
I did have a boy. His name is Asher. And he is turning twelve.
To celebrate the event, we've allowed him more freedom to pursue creativity. While not quite becoming a master painter, he's following a desire he's had for many years in creating a YouTube channel. (Really it's about fidget spinners and kazoo playing, but....it's creative, right!?) Whether this creative outlet lasts a week or leads to work for a lifetime, I am reminded of the dreams I have for my son.
And so, for my own Asher, I say a prayer that you will remain true to the gifts you've been blessed with. Find strength and follow your passions. When you find obstacles, push through them and know the fight makes you stronger.