Over the past 20 years, Richard Ehrlich has kept track of life’s smallest moments, following Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophy that the meaning of life can be found by giving “a little consideration” to the things that take place around us every day. Borrowing that phrase for his title, Ehrlich has compiled personal essays that reveal the constants of his daily routine.
He bikes along the boardwalk, swims, teaches high school and reads Emerson and Thoreau. He also revisits the experiences of building a fort with his brothers, helping his parents move a couch, playing basketball with friends and eventually selecting his father’s tombstone. As his skills of observation and introspection mature, so do the essays until, at the end, he finds himself dreaming of his deceased father and realizing that “we can continue to receive his nourishment anywhere we find ourselves.”
Ehrlich’s strongest essays tap into the power of Jewish rituals. Ehrlich’s ancestors emigrated from Poland and made a life for themselves in Long Beach, New York; their journey is never far from his mind. He allows the reader to share his memories of gathering palms for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and wearing his father’s prayer shawl. He makes sense of those moments by drawing from Jack Kerouac and Paul McCartney, as well as the Talmud and the Bhagavad Gita.
Ehrlich’s intelligence and facility with language are evident throughout, bringing to life the joy of running on the beach, eating with his grandfather’s spoon or enjoying the quiet before students arrive at school. “Everything we do becomes part of our life tapestry,” he writes. Readers of A Little Consideration will savor this invitation to take a look.
BlueInk Heads-Up: Scholars of Judaism and Jewish history will find this book especially interesting.
Also available in ebook.