As I was walking to the bus the other day and listening to RadioLab, the concept of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle started circling in my head, and after a few moments, the idea for this post materialized. I was still poking at it thoughtfully when I got home, not quite sure exactly what to write. As I often do, I got to reading a few blogs for inspiration and discovered that one of my favorite bloggers had finally posted something after a little hiatus. To my horror, he had used exactly the same title! Luckily, my idea was dramatically different and so I don't feel bad sharing, but I do feel it appropriate to link to Gay in Golders Green's The Uncertainty Principle. Do give a read.
[Disclaimer: Physicists, please don't hate me. If you are angry, listen to the introduction to This American Life's Family Physics. I hope this should assuage some hostility. If not, I will understand if you feel the need to write your own post about how much you hate laymen using scientific principles out of context to explain things they have nothing to do with; I would even love to read it. If your post is good, maybe we can republish it here.]
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that the more precisely one can measure certain properties of subatomic particles, the more uncertain he is of other properties. In finding a precise momentum, one loses track of location, and in measuring location, loses sight of the momentum (this is a very simple breakdown of the idea; for a more complete explanation, see the article linked above). As such, it is not possible to gain a full picture of all aspects of these particles. My life has recently fallen into an uncertainty in various regards much like Heisenberg explains.
This past Shabbos, I attended an Orthodox shul for the second time in months, and the first time entirely for my own sake (the previous time, I was attending my friend's auf ruf). While there, I felt at home in prayer for the first time in a long while. Although I didn't feel the same spiritual attachment to the services that I used to enjoy, I certainly felt a strong connection to the community, the structure, and the melodies. In the moment, I was certain that my place in Judaism lay somewhere within the Orthodox fold, if only as a frequent guest at some shul. Yet when the Rabbi there asked me how I affiliate, my best answer was "question mark." Indeed, as I walked home, I found myself very unsure of where my spiritual path is leading me. Yet in the last few months, either not attending religious services or attending Reform or Conservative services, I never quite felt comfortable with the worship style. I was entirely certain that I was moving in a leftward direction in all respects towards something along the lines of Humanist or left-wing Reform Judaism. All the while, I had absolutely no idea where I actually belong synagogue-wise or how I see myself affiliating in the future. Since Shabbos, I am hovering somewhere in the middle of these ideas, not quite sure where I will end up next. It appears that the more certain I am of where I belong synagogue-wise, the more uncertain I am of my current direction, and the more certain I am of my direction, the more uncertain is my place of belonging.
Over the last few months, I have been looking deeply into the ideas and writings of various atheists, most notably Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion (thanks to my friend, Baruch Pelta, for recommending the book). It has been very interesting reading, and strangely inspiring. All the while, I have felt no personal connection with the idea of atheism; my faith in some higher power has been rather strong. Still, as mentioned above, I couldn't quite see where I fit in Judaism. Nothing quite felt right in services or felt intellectually honest to me. When I attended the services this Shabbos, it just felt right, and as I said above, I felt at home. Yet suddenly, I was gripped with a deep foreboding that perhaps the God I believe in may not exist at all. While singing Zot haTorah asher sam Moshe and Aleinu, my stomach was churning as my mind wandered toward the idea of atheism. The more certain I am of the existence of God, the more uncertain I am of where I belong within Judaism, yet the more certain I am of my place, the more uncertain I am of the existence of a god.
At present, I don't know where I am and I don't know where I am going. Until now, I had thought that the more time passed, the more comfortable I became with myself as a gay Jew, the clearer my path would be. Today, I don't know if I should delve too deeply into what I want or where I am at all, because the more certain I am of some things, the more uncertain I become about others. "Is a puzzlement."