Why Didn't Noah Save Everybody aka How to Not Drag People Kicking and Screaming Even When You Really Want To

Can you drag someone kicking and screaming into the reality you desire, even if it’s about saving their own life? Can you pull them out of the hole that is the reality they've constructed for themselves simply because you don't want to see them suffer, even if the pain of disengagement is inflicted at your own hand?

We live in a universe that is constantly changing, moving, pulsating, growing. And if we follow the call of our hearts; we are usually changing, moving and growing along with it. Life throws us curve balls and we want to avoid them, to cower in the cave with our hands over our red and ears pretending we can stay the same and te change won't affect us, but the change is all around us. If we try to remain untouched as the storm shakes us, we stay on the defensive, curving our arms and blocking our ears and harming ourselves as we contort ourselves rather than standing strong in the storm and working to build our strength from the strong sense of stillness within, even as the storm rages.

The problem is when the storm gets so bad, the darkness so deep, the rain so hard that and the mud so sticky that the only thing to do is build fire, build shelter, fortify yourself and attempt to weather the storm, even if your entire camp is ruined and you contract pneumonia as a result - or get out. Like Noah and his ark reinforced from inside and out, we need a bigger boat.

And so we find a haven, a safe place, a home built of cedar and cypress, and decide to take refuge there until the storm subsides.

Of course, we want our most beloved ones with us.

We want them to experience the nectar we've tasted, to feel the joy of the world we can perceive to move into the new realities we've created, to understand the mind blowing wisdom we've seen at a lecture or retreat, what we’ve learned in a book, from a teacher or even – in an Instagram post.

But they're not ready. Their boat hasn't been built. Noah sent 120 years building an ark in hopes the people may see it and have a change of heart. That they might imagine that truly the world may not continue as is and it may be time to step up and embrace the change. The harbinger of change that was Noah the builder was scoffed and mocked rather than loved and adhered to, and our Rabbis say Noah was reprimanded for his failure to convince the people, to turn them towards living better, more elevated lives and preventing the apocalyptic flood.

But it wasn't meant to be, and that is the key.

Sometimes, you just can't.

When the other wants to flail in the mud, how can we stop them? Can we kneel down in the mud, take their freezing and soiled Hand and empathize? Can we look into their tear stained face and see them for we're hey are even in knowing that our rescue kit won't hold out as long as they refuse to pull themselves up by the elbows, using core abdominal strength to move out of the muck?

How do we deal with it loved ones staying stuck in the places they are in, for now, rather than sapping all our synth pulling them out instead if forging forward in the boats that we've built?

We are not cold callous beings who can leave others behind "for the greater good". For the Harry Potter fans out there, that’s Grindelwald, not Dumbledore. We acknowledge our friends are on a different path, and need to be where they are as we journey forward – but we are human. We love, we feel pain, and we feel the pain of others whom we love. So how do we find the strength within ourselves, as Noah did, to go inside the ark and close the door, knowing all is happening as it should despite the howling winds and darkening clouds and scores of people outside in the rain unaware it’s about to kill them?

How do we smile kindly at our uncle voting for Trump, how do we pat the hand of a friend self-sabotaging her own recovery, how do we embrace a beloved family member set on destructive habits, how do we handle a partner or spouse rejecting our efforts at self-improvement and lifestyle change, all while keeping our own selves whole?

If there's one thing Noah had, it was trust. Trust that the divine path set out was one he had a role to fulfil. Trust that in taking care of himself, his family and the entire animal and plant kingdom, the divine would take care of him, too. And trust that those who were destined to repent would be saved in their own way. That these people must choose to save themselves, otherwise their saving is deemed worthless.

Abraham, the star of the Torah portion starting next week, took a different approach, fighting and arguing with God about saving the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. No matter the level of depravity of the town, he was certain there was someone not only worth saving, but in whose merit the entire town could be saved. Abraham didn't succeed; and neither did Noah, but Abraham is praise for his approach while Noah's isn't exactly idealized.

Why is it a problem to just take care of ourselves without focusing on others - isn't that the ideal of self love, of true healing? Of putting your own needs first so others can respect you and care fodr you? Of respecting your own inner dignity and divinity rather than creating a doormat for others to trample on?

This is the truth. And yet it goes deeper.

True love, compassion, expressing of unconditional love, includes self love by also, continuing to love the other even as you let them go. Knowing that the love is so all encompassing and complete that even as you leave them outside in the rain and mud, knowing and trusting they will have the tools to climb out and you will provide the light and the prayer to get them there.

Smiling at your uncle and instead of yelling in frustration, covering him with e compassion for the worldview he takes and knowing once you've done all you can, divine does the rest. Loving your friend and holding them in their pain yet refusing to slip into the vortex of self-loathing. Supporting your partner for their troubles while maintaining your own lifestyle and drawing a line where one prevents the other, knowing that in your embrace of a better life, others can learn and eventually, follow.

The key is trust. It is love. It is compassion. It is walking a mile in the shoes of another and giving them the tools to grow and change and heal – but without doing the work for them. It is knowing, to quote Dadi Janki, that a river doesn't need to convince anyone to drink from it. It is cool and refreshing and flowing and wet, so of course people want to drink. Start by being love, and you don't have to work so hard to act like it. Be the river, and others soon have no choice but to come and drink.