Signs but No Wonders

It turns out that positive thinking can have negative results.

Once in a while, at irregular intervals, on the street corner near my apartment I meet an astrologer who was once very famous for her accurate predictions. On each occasion, she informs me, without any connection to my momentary level of depression, that I'm about to embark on a wonderful period in my life - an era of increasing outbursts of happiness that will turn into one big flood of light, blue skies, wealth, happiness and self-fulfillment.

"Does it have to be myself that I fulfill?" I asked her one evening. Her response was a rather surprised "Huh?" I explained that this may be the problem: All her predictions are completely correct and accurate, but they are simply coming true for someone else.

The astrologer has yet to be born who has been able to guess my sign after a 15-minute conversation with me. Apparently, I mistakenly ended up with one that doesn't suit me - whose typical characteristics include physical coordination and an interest in sports. And if we are on the subject, let's take my dog, Shoshana, for example. Although she looks exceptionally sheep-like, she's a Pisces and not an Aries. In spite of her great love for fish, as well as for all types of food - especially when it's not in her dish - she does not exhibit a single trait of the sign under which she was born.

To tell the truth, I think hers is a personality that is as yet unformed: She's soft as a sheep when she sees people, nervous as a hungry lion when she encounters cats or winged creatures, and stubborn as an ox when awaiting handouts from nice waiters at the entrance to the place that until recently was Mika's cafe and now boasts signs announcing the imminent opening of a hamburger restaurant.

It's possible that only five years from now, when I'm a year older than my dog (Shoshana herself will be raffled off among the readers who are able to decipher my age based on this piece of information ) - she will finally become the creative and introverted personality she was meant to be, according to her horoscope.

Since childhood I have subscribed to the false belief, drilled into us by generations of teachers, parents, women's magazines, self-help books and conversations with spiritual types "who go with the flow," to the effect that the rule that "everything comes full circle" applies primarily when you slander another person. According to the rules of karma, whenever you speak badly of another person, people will speak badly of you ultimately. Bad things happen to anyone who does bad things, whereas anyone who thinks positive and is kind and charitable to others will reap a small fortune when he himself becomes a beggar.

Although my life is clearly the antithesis of that whole concept, I still accept the idea that "beauty is deceptive and charm is vain, and a well-behaved girl will always be liked." And yet I keep thinking that perhaps it would actually be preferable for me to work on my external appearance rather than pinning my hopes on my optimistic personality. The fact is that the worst attacks against me come every time I write something positive. Whether I'm impressed by an interviewee, a book that excited me or a play that turned out to be enjoyable, I feel I've been successful with some mission, or I describe my plans for self-improvement or my sensitivity to the suffering of others - I immediately become the target of insults, curses and, sometimes, even threats meant to prove that I have made a terrible mistake.

For example, the play in question may be wonderful in my opinion, but I apparently forgot to get excited about a much better one that was being performed in another theater. Or, I only wrote that I liked that writer's book to get her cousin angry or because, in general, my feminism is blinding my judgment.

Once I was criticized by the owner of a second-hand bookshop who, had a famous and rather heavyset journalist not separated us, would actually have hit me because I wrote positive things about Itamar Levy, an author and expert at tracking down books. There were also Haredim who threatened me because of what I wrote about mayor Uri Lupolianski, and an assistant principal in one of my children's schools who reprimanded me for writing warm words about another teacher, a wonderful educator who happened to be religious. "That's how they're taking over the school system," asserted that pillar of education.

But I received the most violent reactions when I once wrote about my thoughts concerning becoming vegetarian, out of a concern for animals and to repair the injustice done to them by human beings. It turns out that real vegetarians are far more violent talkbackers than the Haredim, people on the extreme right and the founders of new associations for "men's rights" who write about me regularly. As a truly representative example, I will mention the letter from a reader who compared me to someone who rapes little girls and then regrets his actions but continues to rape.

There's a reason why I've been afraid all my life of chronically righteous people like those readers who have so much compassion for animals that they act with abject cruelty to anyone who "sins" by eating them. Maybe that's my real problem with vegetarianism, just as in the case of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team: The problem is the fans.