Tuesday, August 22, 2017

#BlogElul 5777: Act

"A bat mitzvah is someone who knows that the world is not a stage, -- that we are not puppets who mouth someone else’s lines, and marionettes who dance to yet another person’s tune, -- that we need not be ashamed of our own face, our own mind, and our own choices, -- that we do not have to hide from ourselves and the world under a blanket of corrosive makeup which not only quickly becomes indelible, but which also hardens, becomes cold to the touch, and does not allow any room for growth."

These words were spoken by the rabbi at my bat mitzvah more than four decades ago. Although I didn’t necessarily understand them then, experiences in the intervening years have changed that.

Having spent many years living under a blanket of corrosive makeup pretending all was well in what was (in hindsight, of course) an emotionally abusive marriage, today I try to speak my own lines, to dance to my own tune, and to play the lead, makeup free, in what is my show.

In my show, that means spending time and energy on people and activities that bring meaning and richness to my life -- without making excuses to myself or anyone else for doing anything but that. My family and friends, my synagogue community, volunteer work on behalf of FORCE: Facing our Risk of Cancer Empowered and its members, and working out in the gym all fit the bill. Sometimes, though, it means making time just for me, a book, and a Dunkin' iced coffee, and I'm finally learning to be okay with that.

In my show, I’m a writer and editor in a Jewish organization. Solidly on the "communications" side of the "marketing and communications" team, I strive to curate well-written, high quality digital content for a daily email sent to a subscriber base that numbers between 20,000 and 60,000 inboxes, depending on the day of the week Sometimes, the content I choose is deemed “too Jewy,” a term I understand, but find distasteful. Even though I know it's not personal, it feels that way, but I'm slowly learning to act like it doesn't matter to me -- even though it still does.

In my show, I regularly notice (and all too often am disproportionately annoyed by) stop-in-their-tracks texters, sidewalk-clogging tourists, people who don’t say “good morning,” “thank you,” or “excuse me,” those who talk too loudly on their cell phones, and others who block pedestrian thoroughfares because they're convenient for conversations, as well as the way too many, like, oh-my-god, like, millennials who seem to think the world revolves around them. I’m doing my best (although sometimes not too successfully) if not to ignore them, then at least not to let any of them or their antics get under my skin.

None of this is easy and there are plenty of days I still feel as though I’m mouthing someone else's lines and dancing to someone else's tunes instead of directing and acting in my own show. Thankfully, though, there’s always room for growth – especially at this season.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima , this #BlogElul post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precede the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serve as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.