Two weeks ago, we celebrated Rosh HaShanah in New York with my brother’s crew and congregation. The atmosphere and the people (professional leadership, congregants, family and friends) in his shul provide the framework I need and rely on — the warm, inviting and proper tone — to set the stage for the High Holy Days. I’ve come to count on this annual pilgrimage to kick off the new year with the proper mindset and intentions.
Yom Kippur was observed in Atlanta. Our kids came home for the holiday weekend; a last minute and very welcome decision. My homemade challahs (it was the first time I made round ones) came out great. My Friday Shabbat and Kol Nidre dinner (prepared with help from my daughter) was yummy and satisfying. We broke the fast with our son’s in-laws — a yearly event to which I look forward.
I woke up Sunday morning, after Yom Kippur ended, feeling particularly upbeat. I used the holidays and the ten days between them to create a plan and set a course of action for the next twelve months. When next year rolls around, I will be slimmer and in better physical shape. I will have grown my spiritual side and studied new things. I will have traveled more and visited family and friends more often. I will have focused on and filled my life with experiences that make me happy.
I woke up Monday morning and learned of the shooting in Las Vegas. The displays of fear, panic and chaos that filled the TV screen were horrible. The reports of the injury and death toll put me into a funk. My heart and prayers immediately went out to the families and friends of the victims. To me, there’s nothing worse than sudden and tragic deaths that cut promising lives short.
I can’t help but wonder…How can happiness and optimism survive in a world that is full of terror and darkness and is out of control?
And then, once again, my faith was restored…
I left town for quick, work-related, back-to-back trips to New York and Boston. I met with people who are creative, dedicated, focused, and passionate. I bonded with others who are open to new ideas and new relationships. In short, I learned that human nature is about moving forward and making the world a better place.
While I was in Boston, I reconnected with my roots. I was there for less than twenty-four hours, but I knew I had to make them count.
I went to Baker Street…the location of the cemeteries where my paternal great, great grandmother, great grandparents, grandparents, and many great aunts and uncles lie. I went from section to section, proud that I remembered who was where. I said brief hellos to most and had longer chats with a few. I was glad to have made the time.
I had dinner with a second cousin whom I only met for the first time seven years ago. It was lovely to catch up and reaffirm our shared DNA. It truly was a meaningful visit.
And then I drove down memory lane…rather, down Commonwealth Avenue where I used to live. I continued along the train tracks of “the T” toward Kenmore Square and Fenway Park. Of course, no visit would be complete without a wave to Copley Place where I worked for IBM. I finished the day driving through the Callahan Tunnel on my way to Logan Airport.
Revisiting the past made me tremendously happy. It also made me grateful for the wonderful memories and experiences I’ll always cherish. But they also made me appreciative of the life I have today and the one I’m creating for tomorrow.
It’s going to be a great year of change and growth. I feel it.