Rosh Hashanah, Natasha Bedingfield and the Art of Getting Off Your Ass
Natasha – not a Jew but her words could be.
(It’s a catchy title, I know.)
Tonight ends the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It is the year 5776 and if I could go back to year 1, I am pretty sure there would be a hieroglyphically-written blog post about the strange mix of apples, honey, indigestion and families having multiple conversations (all at increasing volumes) at the same time. There would also be something about “being inscribed in the book of life for another year.”
On this holiday, Jews pray all over the world that God will see to it they are written and included in the “book of life” to see another year. Always on the verge of some sort of destruction, it doesn’t hurt to try to turn that frown upside down, I guess, even on what should be a celebration – a New Year.
As a kid, I really did believe in this version of religion – that we had to hope and pray that we would live for another year, as would those we cared about. I understand the importance of believing in something higher than ourselves but the idea of some sort of Jewish Santa Claus making a list of who will get the gift of life versus those who will get eternal coal is a bit too much for me, not to mention, a bit too passive.
On the ride home from my parents’ house, the kids and I were in the car and my son assumed his usual role of “DJ of the car.” After stomaching several rap songs, all of which were not of the good “Beastie Boy/Run DMC” flavor, my daughter and I convinced him that he had to choose things we all could listen to, or at least take turns.
Half way through our ride, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, made it to the line-up. It’s a catchy enough tune. I could deal with it. This time, however, as part of my practice of trying to be more “in the moment”, I really paid attention to the lyrics. As it turns out, it’s not about tasting rain, which is all I ever really got subliminally out of that song. It talks about really embracing life on your terms. And in the lyrics? “Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.”
The immediacy of hearing about beginning a new book yet to be unwritten on the Jewish New Year was not entirely lost on me. If anything, I may have (and continue) to make a connection where none exists for anyone but me. But, hey, as you know from reading other blog posts, that’s sort of my thing.
I like Natasha’s version a bit better than the Old Testament one, to be honest. In the former, it feels like we have not much say as to whether we are going to be inscribed for a good year or not, other than the judgement of our actions from the past year. In the latter, it feels like we are given the chance to reflect and start anew and it is up to us to “get off our ass” (see where that fits in now?) and actually not wait for someone or something to help us.
This fits in nicely with a more recent blog post I wrote about a passage I had read from Pema Chodron. (See “The Positive Side of Hopelessness – May 4, 2015). To reiterate, she writes: “Theism is a deeply seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us. It means thinking there’s always going to be a babysitter available when we need one. We all are inclined to abdicate our responsibilities and delegate our authority to something outside ourselves.”
I like the idea that we should not just wait and hope but start writing our own story. It is unsettling to have your book just begin and unwritten. For me, at least, it’s more unsettling to be a character in a story you had no part in at all.
To all, whether it’s a New Year for you or not, here’s to starting your story. What will your first chapter be and when?
Until next time,
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