Anxiety, confusion, anger, and — probably — fear has put many of us into a state of low level (or high level) blues. Yet, as summer draws to a close we traditionally take time to look inward in anticipation of the Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur holidays and the post-Labor Day restart of the year. The month of Elul is supposed to trigger self reflection. Many of us already have spent months thinking about what we missed or the ways that we failed this year. But I suspect that a little searching will help us see sparks of positive changes that came about because of the challenges we all have been facing. It is time to focus on those things.
In my family, we talk about the positive changes regularly to remind ourselves that we are taking steps forward even as it feels like the world is pushing us back. So, here are a few:
I don’t want to minimize the loss of conventional proms, holidays, weddings, funerals, and socializing, or the fact that there is a constant roar of political and social/racial justice turmoil in the background. I share in the sadness we all feel for the suffering around us, and in some of our lives right now. But, while that suffering may be unusual for people in a community like ours, it is not that unusual for underprivileged communities around the world. COVID is just another burden for many people whose lives already are difficult.
Sometimes we need to reach a low point to jolt us into change. And, our privileges give us an opportunity many do not have to learn and take action. Beginning to reduce waste and compost may be a small thing, but it is something, and it gives me hope that our efforts can improve the future.
I also looked at what worries me the most in our country. I decided I have to at least do a small thing — something — to help bring about change. I am registered to vote, I am volunteering to register others, and I am recruiting people to help with voter protection. Will my efforts make a difference? Not on their own, but just like composting and reducing waste, it gives me hope that my efforts, combined with everyone else’s will lead to a better future.
I hope you will use this time of reflection to show appreciation to yourself for how you have managed in these difficult times. Stay safe.