Thursday, December 29, 2011
Blowing Away Some New Year's Blues...
The Shofar is not a traditional instrument, but I think it is a good symbol for this feeling that I tend to get around this time of the year. Not that I'm Jewish. Not that I want to co-opt their ceremony or its tools or ceremonies. But I do think that maybe the larger culture in America could do with something on the lines of the High Holy days that lead up to Yom Kippur. Especially, as I sit in this sort of post Christmas malaise that I tend to roll into.
This isn't a post about the ebbils of The War on Christmas. Or the Commercialization of Christmas. Or even the Post Christmas Bloat of so much salt and sugar being consumed whilst sitting near a TV. It is maybe inspired a bit from that, but every year, around this time, I do slip into a bit of a brown study. Christmas is over, and the New Year's celebrations beckon, and in between, you have a week of thought collection and recollection, and taking stock of what has occurred, what you hope for the next year, the last year has been a bit of a weird ride.
This is usually the time when I make calls to folks. Folks I haven't spoken to in years. Not everyone that I've wronged by any means--that's not a short list, and I'm not that good of a man--but I do tend to focus on folks that I've not appreciated as much as I should. Or rather, told that I appreciate. Which is odd, since after the aneurysm I promised myself that I'd not go to my grave with regrets. I failed in that--we get busy, we figure we have another day, those days turn into weeks, those weeks into months, and then there's a gulf of time that we are shamed of. I understand the process, and why it happens, but prideful, I am always shocked when I look back and realize how often I've let this sort of debt build up.
In that, I do envy my Jewish friends and neighbors for their Day of Atonement. The fasting and the rest put a ceremony to putting things right. While Yom Kippur was some time ago, I tend to fall into a state where I want to put things right looking onto the New Year, and begin fresh. This is that time for that, and while I realize that Rosh Hashanah occurs every year, I sometimes think that the rest of America misses out on something when we celebrate our New Year with an orgy of booze and fireworks and kissing strangers. Not that I don't like the time, nor will I say no if someone hands me a glass or five, but maybe we short change ourselves a bit, with less ceremony as we ramp up this end of the year.
Ceremony has power. It reinforces. It strengthens bonds. It brings communities together. It, more importantly, gives you the space to consider. Going back to Hebrew tradition, the concept of selah, a mark during prayers to pause, either for musical interlude, or to pause and reflect. Our ceremonies are a way of doing that in a larger sense. They give us permission to stop all the usual crap that we run around with, and take a moment or two to consider. That's sort of the point. Be that the singing of the National Anthem before a sporting event, or saying grace before a family meal, or touching gloves before a match, these giving of moments are important, and this is a time when I try to give maybe in a less formal sense some time to consider. And maybe wish for something more formalized to give a deeper meaning to getting all maudlin at this time.
I won't get to everyone this year. I know this; the list is too damn long, and I am not a good man. But if you happen to meet me rolling down the street, and I look a little preoccupied, it's not just the holiday running around, and I apologize for maybe being a little off my game. I hope y'all have a great year. I hope that this coming one is a damn sight better than the last. And for those of you that I've wronged, or taken for granted, I am actually thinking on that, and taking stock, and if I don't get to you this year, know that I haven't forgotten. I'm just shamed that it's taken so long...