Thursday was Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), which is a time to step out of my ordinary life and reflect; a time for making change -- what we call in Hebrew t’shuvah or “turning/returning.” Turning to something new, returning to our truest self. This Rosh Hashanah I resolve to live in fearless delight for one year. I can explain.
Rewind to last weekend, which found me in Chicago with Ron’s peeps at the Grant Family Reunion. From the moment we arrived, we were embraced by Ron’s large and loving family and found ourselves up to our eyeballs in an avalanche of food, laughter, and music. We stayed with one of Ron’s cousins and he and his wife and two daughters were the warmest, most generous hosts you could imagine. The night before the reunion, many relatives converged on their house to cook, eat, dance, sing, and enjoy one another’s company.
On the day of the reunion it poured rain. Undaunted, Ron’s family unloaded a sound system, BBQ grills, food, drinks, and everything needed to party at a “pavilion” (sheltered area with picnic tables) in the park. Despite the thunder, lightning, and torrential downpour, we were family, at least a hundred strong, and we were there for a good time and we sure had it. The rain cleared after a couple of hours and the day blossomed into a beauty. Once again we ate, danced, laughed, talked, joked, sang, and had a blast.
I returned home to Cali a couple of days before Rosh Hashanah. As I sat in synagogue, contemplating my life, and considering what change I wanted to make, I thought about Ron’s cousins who hosted us in Chicago. What fine and loving people they are. They are always looking for ways to help others, to do a good deed. I don’t think they focus much on the larger ills of the world, such as environmental disaster and what country the U.S. is threatening to bomb next. They don’t live under a rock, they know what goes on in the world, but their priority concerns are family, church, and adding positive value to the lives of those they touch. They are concerned with the health and wellbeing of those they love and those in their community and they are generous with their time and their resources. They are helpers and healers. They are joyful. They celebrate life. I saw this again and again in Ron’s family throughout our stay. Many of his people have very little material wealth. A lot of them are in poor health. Yet they are astonishingly grateful for the blessings they have and admirably generous.
I want to be more like them. More celebratory, less apprehensive. I have become too anxious. I didn’t used to be like this. Once upon a time I rushed forward headlong, unafraid to shoot the moon. Lately I worry. I worry about money. What if I have a health crisis and can’t work, then how will we pay our bills? How can we pay off the debt we incurred putting our children through college? How can I afford to retire? I worry about my husband’s health. Is his blood pressure to high? Blood sugar too low? Feet OK? What if his health issues escalate into a crisis? I worry about insurance, car maintenance, taxes. I worry about my children. My son lives in Oakland, one of the most dangerous cities in the country. I worry for his safety. Even with her college degree, my daughter (who has a fulltime job that does not adequately compensate her for her work) can’t land a job in her chosen profession, which is in many ways still a man’s world. I worry about the planet and about the survival of the human race, about the radiation spill at Fukushima and the poisonous glyphosates lacing our food (thanks to Monsanto). I worry that my son who lives in SoCal, and who just got engaged, will one day present me with extraordinary grandchildren who will die of thyroid cancer as the radiation from Fukushima spreads. I have worried about the destruction of our environment for as long as I can remember. Sheesh. What is wrong with me? I need to stop this. I am sure that Ron’s Chicago family does not worry about the Fukushima radiation spill.
So this is it. For one year I will decline to worry. I will live as if the world will never end, as if we are safe and secure, as if a personal financial meltdown is not even remotely possible. It will be my year of living fearlessly with delight. I will spend one year unafraid. One year committed to delight, joy, wonder, celebration. I don’t want to become oblivious to the dangers and horrors that lurk in the world so I will continue to stay informed (and to work at making good decisions about managing my life). Because I am informed, I will go forth courageously. I want to remain fearless despite what I know to be true about the fragility of life.
This is my resolution, my project, my challenge. I vow to banish my anxiety and to live from now until next Rosh Hashanah, in fearless delight and wonder.