Tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Happy 5772 to everyone. The fact that the Jewish calendar is closing in on the 59th century while the secular calendar is way back at the 21st never fails to amuse my non-Jewish friends. (BTW – we aren’t suggesting that we have been here longer; we just started the clock much earlier.)
But as I reflect on this very large number, I am struck by how long we humans have been roaming the earth – and how little time each of us has here –in the grand scheme of things. Given this reality and my ever increasing awareness of it, my wish for the coming year (and years to come) is simply stated but rarely achieved.
I want peace.
I want peace on the largest of scales and in the smallest of moments. I would like to stop being afraid of traveling because there are evil people who do not share our points of view and want to hurt us for it. I want our government leaders to stop fighting, name calling and vilifying the other side because they think compromise = weakness when quite the opposite is true. I would like to stop worrying about how I am going to get everything done each week and over my lifetime as my to-do list continues to move in the wrong direction. I want my children to stop bickering. I would like peace and quiet every now and then – and peace of mind every now and forever.
If the world were up to me, all these peaceful aspirations would become reality in the next year and by 5773 I would be wishing for the lifetime supply of chocolate. But sadly, it is not up to me – at least not all of it. But some is.
One of my favorite concepts is the fact that while you can’t control most of the challenges you face in life, you CAN control how you respond to them. In the year ahead, I will try to respond with peace.
This is indeed an experiment with a very high probability of failure. Those who know and hopefully still love me recognize that “peaceful” is not one of my core competencies. While not evil or confrontational, I have been referred to as a wee bit intense at times. I am constantly at war – in my head – with mostly small demons whose voices suggest that I’m not doing “it” right – whatever “it might happen to be. I’m hoping to enact a little treaty this year with those voices and myself, and in the process achieve some of the peace I so desire. It’s a start.
In Hebrew the word for peace is Shalom. It is also the word for “hello” and “goodbye” — a reminder to me that each interaction we have should start and end with peace. We’ll see how this goes.