Trying To Be Mensch…

I probably should be watching the SuperBowl right now. But tonight, I’m tackling something different, something which seems necessary. Although you know me, I do love a bit of Beyonce!

In my new(ish) quest to try and live life, and live it with purpose with the weight of time baring judgement on me! I have decide that I need to learn the artform being Mensch. A mensch literally translates into “a person” in Yiddish, but figuratively it means something much deeper. A mensch is a person with whom you would be happy to befriend and associate with, because you feel genuine in a mensch’s presence, according to Wikipedia.

It has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect (which is a relief for me really),  a Mensch is someone who simply makes others feel good when they are around them. I have quite a few friends that achieve this effortlessly, but not all of them would necessarily fall into the ‘Mensch’ category specifically. Not because they’re not good, or saint-like (quite the contrary – if they put up with the Smizz, then they gotta be close to being saints – lets be honest ha!). But more because they’re just socially fluet and happy people.

In theory, we are all decent people. Or that’s how we all start off at least. I’m thinking about “If I live, who do I intend to be?” and this is what I’ve come up with.

For most of my “making a living”, I listen to others. I listen to their ideas, problems, stories, and try and communicate that into visual bite-sizes. I listen to every-single-word they say. Now, you probably think in real life- we listen to every single word our friends and family say. We don’t. When I live-draw, I’m super tired and my head feels super clogged up after drawing for 8 hours of people’s talks. It literally is difficult to string a sentence together after 8 hours of scribing. That’s because i’ve listened to everything, and banked every single word, and it’s context. It made me realize that most of us, just listen to probably about 70% of what our closest friends say. And I don’t think that’s enough.

When I’m hurting, I just want to be heard. Listening is an artform we have seemed to have lost. But by listening, a mensch would make you feel worthy and cared for. A mensch would listen to what you need and what you feel. And I want to be that person. I’m not saying I don’t listen to you now. I do. I just want to be a better,  more empathetic, listener. I want to be a more compassionate listener. Because, now, I finally understand the necessity for someone to feel genuinely listened to.

Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddishdefines mensch this way: *(

Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

And these are some of the ways to become Mensch.

  1. Help without the expectation of return.
  2. Help many people.
  3. Do the right thing the right way.
  4. Pay back society.


They’re all things we know already. Almost religious, bible-like. I’m not religious. But I’m learning to believe. Believe in things, people, believe in other peoples things. Because, really – That’s all we believe in ourselves and others.

So here I am. I’m like Smizz, here’s an excerise:  it’s the end of your life. What three things do you want people to remember you for?

I’m gonna throw this question out on Twitter too.

Published by smizz

Artist → Re-evaluating life→ Rad Oncology graduate + public health worker→ @lab4living PhD-er → Want 2 make a positive difference → Rule-Breaker → LIVE DRAWZ! → councillor! → Loves cities → rides fixie → adventures → wanna be ramen master → <3 Tokyo + NYC

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