These past few weeks I’ve had conversations with many people who are in flux, transition, or just trying to figure out their lives and what’s next. This morning I remembered this wonderful poem by the great Mary Oliver. I’d like to offer it to you:
You do not have to be good
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles
through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
ar moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I’m about to teach a class at the JCC here on Long Island. I was searching for a poem about wisdom and getting older. I found this gem that I’d like to share with you. It’s written by Alex Witchel and comes from “The Spare Wife.” Please post your reactions.
The Older I get the more I see there are these crevices in life where things fall in and you just can’t reach them to pull them back out. So you can sit next to them and weep or you can get up and move forward. You have to stop worrying about who’s not here and start worrying about who is.
In The Jewish Calendar the times between Rosh Hashanah( Jewish New Year) and Simchas Torah( The Giving of the Torah) is known as the “Season of Our Joy.” It is both compelling and festive. This time ,during September and October, is an opportunity for reappraisal and redirection. We get a chance to look at our lives and project what it is that we’d like to move towards in the coming year.
Sometimes though we can get stuck. The news can be grim. We get alerts on our devices that can set us on edge. How can we each experience the possibility of joy and satisfaction? I suggest that we pause. Turn the device over and silence the news. Begin to develop a practice of gratitude. Look around. See who is in your life. Look up and take in the colors, fragrances and sounds that are all around. Really pause and consider that you and me and each of us, can make every season one of joy and fulfillment.
My Rabbi’s at Bnai Jeshurun Synagogue, in New York City have been teaching about the gap that can exist in our lives: that space between reality and aspiration. On the one hand there is the possibility of cynicism : this is how the world is and how it’s always been, so why bother to try to change it. On the other hand we can live is a place of naïveté and a place of false illusions. How do we bridge that gap?
On this Rosh Hashanah I suggest that we become the engineers of our lives.We need to build sturdy bridges that provide a solid platform. Each of us has a word that connotes a name, a face, or a place within our selves of depth and dimension.
We know that this word connects us to our higher selves. All of us need to access that word, that place or that being that allows us to cross between the real and the dreams. The gap can be bridged. Be brave! Draw up your plans and forge ahead.