Poster for the 2005 film “Serenity”
I’d heard of the television show Firefly for some time, so when I got the chance to rent the entire series from my local public library a number of years ago, I jumped at the chance. Needless to say, it was magnificent, a sort of science fiction meets western theme, with sinister, bloated government conspiracy thrown in. Joss Whedon not only created a (rather short-lived) legend, but unwittingly presented the world with an anthem for the libertarian party (which is very much what Whedon isn’t).
Firefly, we hardly knew ye.
Yesterday, again at the public library, I happened to chance upon the “epilogue” of the too soon canceled classic, Serenity (2005), and no, not the 2019 film currently in theaters by the same name which I have no intention of seeing.
[Yes, I know this violates the credo of the pundits at the much vaunted File 770, at least as applied to award-winning science fiction writer Robert Silverberg, that you shouldn’t sample SF/F that’s older than ten years, but so be it.]
Approval-seekers feel a necessity to put themselves in a better light than they really are. Because they try to hide their faults, they are nervous about others finding out what they’re really like. Their situation is like that of a spy in enemy territory.
If, however, they are honest about their mistakes and faults, they will be much more relaxed. They will also find that others behave more positively toward them for their honesty.
While it is not worthwhile to go to the opposite extreme and tell everyone you meet about your faults, if you stop being defensive about your faults, you will live a more serene life.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.269
For those who have mastered serenity, fifteen seconds ago is ancient history. They realize that once something is over, it is over regardless of whether it has been over for many years or for a relatively short time. It is understandable that it can take different people varying amounts of time until they are able to let things go. But the goal should be to let go of what is over and done with. In truth it is gone whether or not you let it. It is just a question of the degree of emotional mastery that you will have. Regardless of where you are at this moment, you can always improve on your ability to let things go as soon as they are gone.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, “Serenity,” p.51
In order to have peace of mind, prepare yourself in advance to accept with serenity whatever occurs. People who expect everything to go the way they want are caught off balance by difficult life situations. Have an awareness that difficulties constantly arise. Being prepared in advance to accept what happens makes it much easier to cope with the vicissitudes of life.
When you feel anxiety about a future event, imagine the worst and accept it. This has a very calming effect. For example, if you are afraid you will miss a bus and feel anxiety, imagine you have already missed it and accept the consequences. If you are afraid you will be fired from your job, imagine you have already been fired and accept it.
Then “reality” can only get better!
Sources: see Ohr Yechezkail: michtavim, p.286; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.75
Would you like to become an expert on how to be calm in all sorts of challenging situations? Do not just rely on your own ingenuity. Keep asking people who appear to be calm, “Would you mind if I ask you how you are able to be so calm?” Most people will happily share their thoughts on the subject with you.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, Serenity, p.72
Some people become overwhelmed when they feel they have too many things to do and they don’t have enough time to do them. This overwhelmed feeling causes them to move more slowly than they usually do. Their minds becomes unclear. It’s hard for them to focus and concentrate. Instead of becoming more efficient at what they have to do, they act way below their standard competency level.
What is the solution? Serene zrizus!
What does it mean to have serene zrizus? It means that you take action, and you do so with full speed ahead while remaining calm and tranquil inside. You move as fast as is appropriate for the specific situation and circumstance. But you have peace of mind.
You might not have previously associated zrizus with serenity, but now you can. Your mindset acknowledges that you will do everything that you have to do and that you will have an inner calm. Although you might move quickly, inwardly you are at ease.
A key benefit of having serene zrizus is that you think clearly. You think about what you need to do, and you remain calm as you take action.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book: “Taking Action” – pages 55-6