Elul 22 – End
I end up getting out what I had originally put in. That keeps being obvious – but not entirely. Because sometimes, I put in stuff because it’s my job or my responsibility, because it’s my obligation – not because I want to end up somewhere. But if I don’t think about where I will end up, then I end up nowhere fast. (If you aim for nothing, you’ll achieve it.)
Sometimes, I have lofty dreams. I’m going to achieve this or be that kind of person. But if I don’t do anything, those dreams recede and don’t happen. I have to take the actions that take me closer to my dreams, or again – I don’t end up where I wasn’t to be. Procrastination is an evil habit that turns my dreams into nightmares of overwhelming failure. I could have done this, that, or the other thing – but I didn’t, did I?
If I start my journey out well, but get distracted by minutiae, I end up getting only the minutiae done. I find myself stuck where I am trying to move a mountain with a pair of tweezers or fill a well with an eye dropper. (Yay, phantom tollbooth – one of the better children’s journeys) It takes me forever to do anything. Again, I end up as far from my goal as I was when I started with tired fingers and broken tweezers. I have to plan properly, pick smart goals and work on them intelligently to keep this from happening.
Others derail me, on occasion. If someone describes my goal as stupid or insufficient, I can put it aside to follow their goals – but then I’ll end up somewhere very strange and wonder what I’m doing in this place, where nothing seems familiar. As the man, his son and the donkey found out, you can’t please all of the people. I need to please me. And not please me with games and novels, with distractions and diversions. I need to please myself by asking what my dreams are – and whether these activities are helping or harming me as far as meeting them go. I need to ask myself this question – no one else can answer it for me.
On the other hand, I need to take the hands that offer help. I am human and God made us to be in society and if I try to do it alone, even if I succeed, I find myself holding a hollow shell of my dream, nothing like the beautiful, incredible thing I envisioned. I can dream big, and work towards my dreams but God sometimes has something bigger in store. I need to work with others if I’m going to find that bigger dream.
I must avoid despair. Sometimes, it feels like I’ve already reached the end of the road and it’s a dank, nasty alley behind a garbage dump. It stinks. I need to remember that there is indeed an exit to the alley, and I have a way to walk it, because God gave me one.
So, if I want to be a teacher, I need to plan the lessons, do the marking and enjoy those special moments where it’s me and the kids. If I want to be a wife, I need to listen to my partner, plan dates and special activities for her, and enjoy the magic of our two hearts beating together as one, of true connection, soul to soul. If I want to be a Jew in a Jewish community, I need to go to services, participate joyfully in the holidays and enjoy those magical moments where we touch God’s hands together – through our voices rising, through candles burning, through arms around each other, through old crackled yellowing words repeated by the people next to me. (Yay, Slichot and Havdalla at Beth Jacob last night – if you weren’t there, you missed a beautiful, spiritual experience that you would have loved; more importantly, that would have lifted you out of despair and turned you out of that alley you ended up in and put you on the path you needed to be on. It was good.) If I want to be a mama, I need to do dishes, find time with the kids, make hanging out with them a priority, and love those beautiful hugs and smiles and things they want to show me. If I want to be a good person, I need to do Mitzvot, read Torah, help others in any way possible, practice my sorry and thank you, and enjoy those moments where I’ve made a difference for another human being.
I know where I want to end up this year. These are my priorities. I want to be a good person, a teacher, a mama and a married Jewish woman. All I need to do is walk that path, avoiding despair and pride, accepting help and making sure each step I take is a step along the road to my goals. Maybe these steps aren’t my obligation – but what is obligation but the need to keep stepping along that road. So, maybe they are. Certainly, when I walk them, my road is full of light and I really love where I end up.