September 23, 2008

Why Me? Rosh Hashanah Thoughts

Why Me? Why Me. Why me!

Language is ever so interesting to me. Words can do so much to communicate thoughts and feelings. All it takes is a bit of effort to craft a sentence that let's the reader know what is on your mind. When you phrase it like that it sounds ever so easy.

All...It...Takes...Is...A...Little...Effort.

As if the failure to properly express yourself can be attributed to your not trying hard enough. I try. I try really hard. I won't lie and say that I do every time because I don't. I am lucky in that I can usually get by with less. But that can be attributed to years of practice and some sort of natural ability.

Don't get me wrong, there are many others out there who are much finer writers than myself. I know and accept that. The trick is trying to outwork the others. The rub is knowing that with a little hard work I can improve. The question is merely whether I am willing to put in the extra effort.

All of this is a long winded preface to some thoughts about the coming new year. Before I jump into it I am going to link to some prior posts on or related to the topic. It is a silly trick I use to give myself a moment to consider what I am about to write.
The Impact of My Actions
Unetanah tokef
Yom Kippur- Besheret- Judgment & More
Another Day, Another Funeral- It is Elul
The New Year
Rosh Hashanah Thoughts
Free association posts are among my favorites. Hint for those who do not follow, I am still considering what I want to say. So I'll do what I do best and just dive into this.

This time of year always leaves me unsettled. Life feels like a contradiction. I feel comfortable with myself and completely at a loss. I look in the mirror and ask if I am the person I should be. If I say no I tell myself I am being too hard and if I say yes I ask why I must live in denial.

There is no right answer, I cannot win because I am my own biggest critic. As a compromise I remind myself that I am imperfect and that my father is right, all you can do is your best. Well, I am doing my best, but in some areas it hasn't been good enough.

Some people tell me not to worry, that I am part of a bigger plan, but I have problems with ambiguous remarks like that. They make you feel good because you can sigh and just live because G-d will take care of you. The problem is that I see too many things that make no sense.

Blog friends who have lost children, family friends who have died far too young and my own share of friends who have been taken well before their time.

Don't tell me that G-d has a plan. I can't go to a bereaved parent and tell them that it is going to be ok. When we buried 'D' I shook with anger. In between the time he died and the birth of my children I struggled to accept that there was any sort of higher power.

'D' was amazing. He was someone who lived life with a purpose. He was a scientist who had incredible ideas about how we could change things and improve life for everyone. He was going to make a difference in the world. He would have changed things and now he is dead, ten years in the ground.

What sort of plan takes him away and lets the BTK maniac run around. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. I can accept free will. I can accept a world in which we are granted the opportunity to be good, or evil or anywhere in between.

But a plan, nah, that I cannot do.

I can look in the mirror and yell about all the things that are unfair in life. I can cry because it seems that everyone else seems to get that brass ring. They get to lead the life that I want. I can look at them and say that it is clear that they are so much happier than I am. I can point and say that once again I am stuck on the outside looking in.

Except that when I talk to friends who are leading these amazing lives most tell me that they are not so amazing. There is always something that is serving as the fly in their ointment. So maybe I can be content in knowing that we all have our struggles, or maybe not.

I suppose that part of what I find so unsettling about this time of year is that I can give a long list of people who have died. It is probably no different from any other time of year, but still it affects me.

"On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,

And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.

How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,

Who shall live and who shall die,

Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,

Who shall perish by water and who by fire,

Who by sword and who by wild beast,

Who by famine and who by thirst,

Who by earthquake and who by plague,

Who by strangulation and who by stoning,

Who shall have rest and who shall wander,

Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,

Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,

Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,

Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.

But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree."

In the end I come back to the same place year after year. It doesn't serve any purpose to argue about whether we should be good because G-d tells us too. I still believe that you do not have to have religion to be a moral and ethical person.

I try to live that way because it is the right thing to do, not because I may be rewarded. I try to live that way because life is better when we are nice to each other. It is simplistic and a bit self righteous, but it works for me.

And in the end we all have to figure out how to live in a manner that works for us as individuals and collectively.

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