Rosh Hashanah – the beginning of the Jewish New Year; I know that when we first start the holiday and head towards services, the summer is REALLY over, this is a time for introspection and a time to catch up with people that we have not seen during the summer. Being an optimist, I enjoy the fact that everyone spends the time to wish each other a Happy and Healthy New Year or a Sweet Year. We do this, knowing that a week later, we spend a full day fasting and asking forgiveness for the sins committed during the past year.
I walked up to someone that I have not seen since last year, and asked him how he is doing. “It is Rosh Hashanah and I am in shul, so do you want to hear the truth.” While the appropriate answer is yes (even while thinking no), I answered with the first response that came to mind. I leaned in conspiratorially, “You know, I always look at it this way; this is the beginning of a New Year, where we can start over and have all of the hopes, expectation and dreams of the New Year ahead of us.” He looked at me; my answer had caught him off guard. After a moment, he responded, “That is a great way to look at it, I did not think of that.” Sometimes, it is merely the perspective through which we look at something that can determine our opinions and outlook on our condition and futures.
Recently, at a Toastmasters event, there was a portion of the night set aside for what we call table topics. During this time, one person asks short questions to the people participating that evening and then picks someone out at random to answer the question. The purpose of this exercise is to learn the skill of “thinking on one’s feet.” The question was asked, “What was the most exciting thing that happened in your life,” and she called upon a friend of mine. “The most exciting time in my life is right now.” He went on to say that he HAD exciting points in his life, like when he married, the birth of his children, and all of these events make up happy memories. But, he went on to say, right now, his future is wide open with all of his dreams and goals ahead of him, not behind. That was what made “this moment” the most exciting for him.
It is interesting how we ascribe certain times of the year to beginning points – New Years (potential multiple New Years), springtime (awakening of nature), or our birthdays. We even set artificial dates to start working on goals – I will start on this after I finish that; or, when this event occurs I can start working on that. We have built our lives on dates that mean little and that lead us to become proficient procrastinator practitioners. And believe me, I am no different. So, here is to a New Year, one filled with all of our hopes and expectations, new goals to strive for and old goals to keep reaching to accomplish. Most importantly, a year where we learn to leave our yesterdays in the past, not wait for tomorrow to begin, and to take action today.