“Getting to where you need to be is an important step. But nothing is as important as getting out of where you’re at right now.”
Such a statement could not be truer of my life. I know where I need to go, what I need to do…But first, I (REALLY) need to get out of where I am. I should not be shocked that I am in a new year, and yet, nothing is “new” yet.
I find myself in the same routine as I was a week ago…a month ago… a year ago.
Obviously, it is almost impossible to compare the person that I was last Rosh Hashana to the person that I was this Rosh Hashana. They are two completely different people. I was able to shed my “teenage” skin and fit myself into the mold where I feel I rightfully belong.
Walking home from shul at the end of Rosh Hashana, with the wind blowing wildly and the rain quickening my pace, I made a silent decision to change. Now is the time to make a difference in my life. (The truth is that I always had the ability to make a difference, but at that moment I was empowered by the days Awe that had just flashed before my eyes). I had an overwhelming surge rushing through my body, a pressure pushing me to make sure that this year, I would strive to be better than I ever was. This is a year where everything will be different.
And then…Yom Tov was over. Suddenly, it was back to real life. Less than 24 hours after standing in shul, with a siddur strapped to my arms, I found myself quickly thrown back into the rushes of current living. Back to work, back to editing, back to trying to figure who I am, where I belong. My head is spinning at the thought of it.
As mere flesh and blood, I quickly forgot my heartfelt prayers, the stinging tears, the begging and pleading of G-D to bless me and those around me with a joy filled, easy year (or, as my sister puts it: a year of revealed good. We learn that all is good in the world, but it’s very difficult to always see it as so). After vowing to push myself against my routined mindset, I fell right back into it. Worry, anger, anxiety, pressure… Hadn’t I just spent an entire month working on bettering myself? Isn’t the goal to move forward, not backward?
Even more so, at the end of the day, how can I expect myself to function normally, to live a happy, balanced life when I allow myself to succumb to every nuisance around me? How can I serve properly if my mind and body cannot function properly? How am I meant to fill my intended purpose in this world (whatever it may be) if I allow myself to sink with every test?
The pressure and the tension proved to be too much for me when, last night, after holding back on all the worries I had inside of me, I burst. I felt as though something exploded inside of me, and I harshly reacted to a situation that did not deserve such attention. I hurt someone dear to me, in a way that she did not deserve. And on the threshold of a new beginning; what a fool I am indeed. The anger that I felt took possession of me, it took on the garb of a master to whom I bowed. I bowed before the anger pulsing through my body and gave it power over me.
The period in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called The 10 Days of Teshuvah.
Teshuvah, which comes from the Hebrew world “Lashuv” (to return), is often translated as repentance.
We are taught that in these 10 days, the fate of the world is signed and sealed. Ones fate may be decided on Rosh Hashana, but it is not sealed until the final moments of the Yom Kippur fast. It is during these 10 days that everything (and I mean everything) makes a difference.
Every year, with the 10 days would looming over my head, the same question comes to mind: What does repentance actually mean?
By definition, repentance is a deep sorrow for past sin, a regret for past action.
A literal definition gave me a clue, but it didn’t answer my question: What is repentance meant to mean to me?
Does it mean that for 10 days of the year, I meditate on my sins, but that once The Days of Awe pass me by, I continue living life per usual?
I am learning for the first time exactly what it means. Repentance, Teshuvah, should mean more than just casting aside ones sins. It should mean that when you cast your sins aside, you continue to work on bettering yourself. We are human after all, and it takes work to keep ourselves in check.
This brings me to my final thought on the subject (for now): My resolution. What can I do in this upcoming year to change who I am for the better? What can I do Teshuvah on that will really count?
I think back to every Rosh Hashana resolution I have ever made, and am embarrassed to say that most of them did not stick. I wanted to strive harder and achieve more in fields that I was not yet trained in. I wanted to run a 50 mile marathon before even taking a stroll around the block.
I decided that this year, my resolution has to be something about my actions, my behavior. In the past, my resolutions have been based on spiritual growth, as they should be. But, I realized something very important this week: How can I expect myself to make healthy decisions concerning my spiritual state of being, when my attributes could use a serious make over? How could I expect one without the other?
This year, my resolution is to be slower to anger, and to think before I act.
Life is meant to be lived to the fullest degree. It is meant to be experienced, tasted, touched, explored. And it is done so with so much more zest when one makes room for happiness. When anger melts away, when care and precaution are taken in the way we treat ourselves, and more importantly, the way we treat others, only then can life be lived properly.