I did something stupid the other day. Okay. So what else is knew? My life is littered with stupidity. But this was something beyond the typical litter. It was something that still leaves me numb with fright and twists my stomach into knots.

It was something that I still don't understand because, you see, I am a very careful person. I'm a constant double-checker, whether its locks, burners on the stove, or making sure that the door of our wood stove is shut up tightly. I go over every argument several times before I arrive at a decision. And, I'm a careful driver, staying within the speed limit (most times) and preferring to stay behind a slow vehicle rather than passing.

I began to give self-flagellation new meaningYes, admittedly, I am a shade on the compulsive side, in some ways and that's what makes my lapse into recklessness so mind boggling.

I was parked in the Co-Op Mall, waiting for a friend to come out of the market. I was relaxed, almost dozing, relishing the feel of the warm sun shining through the window. After about fifteen minutes my friend returned and I began to back out. It was then that I heard someone yell and I instinctively turned my head to see people behind me, including a young woman pushing a baby stroller.

I was horrified. Surely I had checked before I began to back up. But perhaps I hadn't. Now, I didn't come close to hitting them. My car had barely moved but that wasn't the point. I had been careless. If it hadn't been for someone yelling "hey!" there might have been a horrendous catastrophe. Lives would have been shattered and I would have wanted to curl up into a tight little ball and die.

It was at that moment on that day that I began to give self-flagellation new meaning. I spent the rest of the afternoon and on into the evening in emotional crisis, my mind fast forwarding through the horrors that might have been. I berated myself, did a self critique that led to assassination of my character and driving skills and I also bargained with G‑d. However, I never once praised Him or thanked Him for averting disaster.

That also is mind boggling since I am and always have been a very polite and appreciative person, thanking everyone for every kindness, including G‑d except, of course, on that day in the Co-Op Mall. Go and figure. Talk about being caught up in the moment. Talk about being caught up in self.

Talk about being caught up in selfMy reaction was so un-Jewish because, as you know, Jews know all about praise. We have been taught to live it. We breathe it. Our most popular king created a book dedicated to praise of our Creator. We are to praise G‑d for everything in our life, the good, the bad and the ugly. In fact we are to bless our Creator no less than one hundred times a day!

It should be a natural part of our lives but perhaps it's become so rote that we barely notice the words that we utter during our rituals or observing the spectacular energy of a thunder storm. Perhaps we're too fearful of the results of the storm to acknowledge G‑d's power within it. Perhaps we simply don't care any more.

In Psalm 22, King David identifies G‑d as "the Holy One, enthroned upon the praises of Israel." What was David trying to say? Was he implying that we are responsible in extending the life of our Creator? Does this mean that if we discontinue to praise G‑d that He will expel the final death rattle and cease to exist? Is David saying that we have superseded G‑d and are responsible for His existence? I don't think so. But I do believe that our awareness of our Creator will cease if we discontinue our praise and appreciation of His goodness.

I believe that if we neglect to acknowledge G‑d and praise Him then He becomes a shadowy figure, relegated to the background of our lives. Perhaps He would cease to exist in our minds altogether. And guess who would take His place? Guess who would get all of that praise that should have been G‑d's?

We would.

We would begin to take credit for our accomplishments and alternately, we would likely choose to blame others for our failures, thus denying ourselves the spiritual growth that comes from accepting responsibility.

The super-inflated ego is bad enough but can you imagine what our world would be like if we were unaware of G‑d's existence? Picture those four-o'clock mornings when the darkness threatens to consume us and our fears nip at our insides. Imagine believing that we're on our own in a world in which morality and values are constantly changing according to popular demand and in which help is iffy at best.

Imagine believing that we're on our ownThat's a frightening world for needy people like me who need mega doses of the G‑d stuff in order to get through each day. To be honest, I'd like to bet that I'm not the only one that would be frightened by such a scenario.

On that day in the Co-op Mall, my concentration on my own failures led me to deny G‑d's achievements as well as His rescue of the situation. My absorption in self, closed off my recognition of G‑d's presence in my life, stifling the knowledge that no matter how stupidly I behave, He is there to avert disaster, or even walk me through it, if disaster does occur.

The ultimate stupidity that day was my failure to acknowledge G‑d, praise Him, thank Him, thereby keeping Him in the forefront of my life.