PREPENT DAY 23:
Elul 23 5775 – September 7 2015
Concrete goals are critical to get things done right. Measurable if minor changes. The same for this prepent soul work. We require destinations to get the journey towards better being, rarely easy, started. What does win looks like? How to motivate ourselves towards the next meaningful milestone in these subtle twists of turns and returns towards our desired changes, our persistent perfection, trying to fix, again, wisely or not always so, a flaw or fault, a failure or a faint sense of not good enough for whatever factor. Concrete goals: 10 pounds in two weeks! 175 miles to your destination. I’ll be happy when…, Yom Kippur! 40 miles under 4 hours.
In the absence of gold stars or medals for successful soul searching during these days of return we get to create our own goals and/or hop on those that come our way – symbolic for the grander process of change and growth that in some way, on some levels, all of us yearn for and crave. Each goal achieved adds height to our stature. Every minor milestone marks the path for further demonstration of persistence, faith, and transformation.
Goals like 40 miles under 4 hours on bike into NYC, on day 2 of the annual Hazon NYC Bike Ride with the Lab/Shul team. 40 is the humblest goal on this ride. I could’ve gone for the 55 miles but I’m realistic: Without having invested in enough training for this ride – it will have to do. Just like 40 days to get inside the Holy of Holies. A goal to make sure that a journey happens, for many reason, all having to do with better balance, health, connection and purpose in life. Big stuff. I bike to be in better shape, to enjoy the thrill of the ride, to spend this time with other old and new friends – 40 goals to get there knowing that I pushed myself a little bit to get to a goal that I marked as important. If I can take on this one – I can take the next. (It’s sort of interesting that the destination of this 40 miles ride is JTS – the location where we all meet to high five and drink and sing something. This is the year in which I plan to graduate Rabbinical School at JTS. How will one ride’s goal mark the other? And what do all these rides and journeys ‘mean’ for my ongoing becoming?)
Choose today a goal that matters to you. A measurable moment for what would look like a desired change in the fabric of your life. A detailed destination: By date X I want to have completed all my ‘sorry’ notes to friends and family; When I hold his hand again I’ll know that I have forgiven myself; I will wake up in the morning, smiling wide.
I found a book on the shelf of the Isabella Freedman Lounge today – in Reb Zalman’s Library: ‘Choose Life: The Biblical Call for Revolt’ by Eric Gutkind, The copy, printed in 1969, belonged to Reb Zalman and has his notes and scribbles in it. Gutkind was a wild one. Here’s a quote that caught my eye, underlined by Reb Zalman:
“A great Jewish sage, the Bratzlvaer Rebbe, wisely said: “He who does not pursue ultimate goals is wasting his days.” The ultimate goals are not just ‘distant’ affairs, having nothing to do with the present moment. They are like the locomotive before the train. They give the momentum to the immediate moment. There is no antagonism between the nearby goals and the ultimate goals. The greater, the more alive the ultimate goals, the more will the immediate goals profit by them. How can Man hope to survive if he is already dead in life? The “Now” must contain within itself the ultimate goals, just as the ultimate goals are applied now and here.
Off I go. 40 miles. day 23 on the 40 day journey to a better sense of being that will hopefully be measured by the sense of joy and presence on the other side of 40 days and ways and miles and smiles to better. Ready, steady, goal.