Prepare – #BlogElul
Really, one should prepare. One should prepare to let go. One should prepare to change. One should prepare for days off and shuls on, one should prepare for family traditions and for the school year. We do a lot at this time of year – it’s a little crazy. Summer vacation is done now, school is starting and we have to do all the things we need to be ready for.
And preparation takes time and planning, thought and investment, care and concern. It’s not just a matter of filling out forms, it’s a matter of deciding which forms to fill out. And there’s no time. You can’t take fencing and figure skating and piano and martial arts and have a part time job and do well in school – you can’t do it all, so those agonizing “what to give up” decisions have to be taken. And you know you’re going to do it wrong – you’ll miss a preparation task and leave for the big trip without your passport, or without the right currency, or without a bathing suit –you will miss the mark somewhere. And finally, things will go wrong no matter how well you plan, because at the last minute, you realize that the cat peed on the shoes you were planning to wear to the show, or the course you wanted to take was cancelled, or the airplane was delayed by 8 hours.
What? Elul is not about all that outer stuff? It’s emotional preparing? Well, all of the above happens on an emotional and spiritual level as well. I know I will not achieve perfection in the coming year. I know that I can’t fix every character flaw in the next month and arrive at Tishrey all ready for the new year. I am still likely to have to decide which relationship to celebrate, which to repair, which to salvage, and which to give up on because not all will last until next year. I will do a lot of it wrong – my apologies will hurt rather than heal, revealing wounds that should have been left buried. I’ll not call someone who needed my call or annoy someone who needed space. I won’t have learned enough, prayed enough, connected enough or grown enough. So how can I prepare for something as life changing, as life stretching, as demanding as Rosh HaShana?
I can’t. Sometimes, I am tempted to give up and stop planning – to go with the flow of my life. Life, however, like water, flows downwards. If I aim for nothing, then I’m likely to get it. So, I pull out my laptop, I start my blog and I begin preparing. What changes will I aim for this year? How will I deal with last year’s mess? What supplies do I need to become a better me, and if those supplies are emotional, then good – but where do I get them? I make my lists, I go back-to-school shopping, I plan out days of connection with loved ones. I do a goal setting session and I look up ways to make the goals happen. Then I shudder a bit and begin. I am not ready; I am not prepared. My planning is missing bits and things are about to go wrong. What else can I do, though? I might as well start anyways. Here goes Elul!