L’shana tova- happy new year!
To be honest, I’m not big on going to synagogue. I can read Hebrew but I don’t know what it means. I spent years at hebrew school and shabbat and high holiday services, but now that no one forces me to go at college, I’m definitely less involved. This year, I have 4 exams between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and it feels really weird and wrong to go to class. I’m culturally Jewish, so going home for a big meal with lots of family is what really feels right. That being said, today, for the first time since being at school, I went to Hillel for services. There was a really cool option for an alternative service called “Social Action and Self Reflection,” so I let my boss know I wouldn’t be at work and I went to Hillel.
Besides the Rabbi being really great and young and hip, we talked about something really cool that, as soon as I read, I knew I was going to blog about. I’m a huge fan of quotes, and the first thing we read was this quote by Cynthia Occelli:
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
I don’t know about you, but this hit me HARD. Every Rosh Hashanah, we’re expected to repent for our sins during Tashlich, and we fast for Yom Kippur. We say that we shouldn’t say bad things about others while “the book is open” during the ten days between the holidays, so our names get inscribed in the book of life. Maimonides’ Law of Repentance literally says “Repentance involves forsaking transgressions and removing such thoughts from one’s way of thinking and resolving firmly never to do it again.” We apologize to an man in the sky (or at least this is how I think of Him), promising to never do it again. Honestly, I call bullshit. I love being Jewish. It is a part of me, through and through. And there are things that I am so, so sorry for. But I just cannot wrap my head around text that says that my mistakes are only forgiven if I never have negative thoughts like the ones that led me to make that mistake, and if I don’t make that mistake again.
I can’t control my thoughts, I can only control what I do with them. So while yeah, I’d rather not have thoughts of restricting and overexercising and self-hate, they’re going to happen. The difference is that I no longer act on them for the most part. And when I go from thinking these things and acting on them to simply thinking them, accepting them, and letting them go, I transform. I can’t tell you how different of a person I am since I entered treatment initially, since the seed cracked, its insides came out, and everything changed. I bet that, from the outside, it probably did look like complete total and utter self destruction.
So when I think about the upcoming year, I’m not focusing on not sinning (sorry God). I’m going to continue to be the best me I can be, to continue to build myself up instead of knocking myself down, and to continue to create the life I want to live. I’m going to apologize when I mess up, but I’m not going to let that stop me from doing things. And I’m going to keep looking for ways to help others.
This year, I’m going for that little seedling growing into a really beautiful tree, even if it messes up and grows a little crooked. Even if that seedling blows way too far from home for its liking and plants its roots somewhere else. Because a life without mistakes is a life without growth, and staying in place just isn’t for me.
L’shanah tova, may your new year be sweet & full of growth and making mistakes (even when they’re hard).