Tonight marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I am looking forward to spending the time reflecting and renewing after an exhausting few days weeks months.
Yom Kippur is a gift because we are handed this annual mandate to do better. We can confess all we did wrong, be forgiven, and move on with a lighter heart and mind. Still I wonder how many Jews are like me – well-intentioned but ill-equipped to actually make the changes in our lives we promise to make each year. For the last several years, I have found myself making the same amends for the same transgressions – promising myself I am going to stop working so hard and live more in the moment. Progress in this area has been slow — non-existent to the naked eye. Some may say that I am moving the opposite direction, taking on more, not less, each year.
For me the irony is that I am terribly focused on delivering the goods for those around me. I pride myself on being counted on and feel terrible when I come up short. Yet, when it comes to making good on promises I make to myself, I constantly disappoint. Throughout the year, reminders that life is short are shot across the sky and for the moment, I am awe- struck by the brilliance of my blessings. But then I move on to the next project, chore or errand and leave the wonder behind.
Such is the case with the passing of Steve Jobs this week. The litany of quotes he put forth about living life have swarmed Twitter and Facebook. And they indeed stopped my in my tracks for their poignancy and universal truthfulness. My favorite:Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
It gives me chills and I think “YES – THIS IS THE KEY TO LIFE.” But translating this ideal into reality is much, much harder. I’m not sure how that excuse would go down in practicality. Because, for the lucky ones, life gets in the way of death. A blessing to be sure — we are not forced to confront our mortality each and every day. But it is also a curse because without the immediate threat of death staring us in the face, we are prone to squandering the time we have.
I will ponder this all in the 24 hours that begins at sundown tonight. I will hold my family close tomorrow at services — and in my heart throughout the year. I will try, once again, to be better, even if its just in a tiny way, to myself.