It is early in this new year, and the media is filled with ads declaring all that we ‘should’ be doing: losing weight, going to the gym, finding out about our genetic background, taking a trip, running for political office, and on and on.
I have never been a person to make New Year’s resolutions: I find New Year’s Eve a ‘false’ holiday, one created by – if not Hallmark Cards – then champagne sellers and others who want us to pay big bucks for a special night that is over before we blink. I most often chose, instead, to mark the time with my spouse and a few close friends, playing board games, sharing a nice meal at home, or just catching up with folks I’ve not seen enough of during the year. And yet, there is this tantalizing promise of a new day dawning. This is much more the case, I have felt, during Rosh Hashanah – when I can contemplate the year past and examine what I want the next chapter of my life to be like.
Mostly I want to be able to say, at the close of the next year, that I did the best I could, was fair to myself and to others, and perhaps, made my piece of the world a little better in some way. I particularly like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, writ long ago:
“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”
We have this precious opportunity: to make each day the best it can be, rather than a throw-away, to do what we can for others; to celebrate our life on this fragile planet. As I head off in the new year to acquire a new knee and discard the old one, I have vowed, once again, to make each day count: to value life, and all who live it in good will.
Let us be good to one another, my friends: we have this gift of life, and it is up to us to celebrate and honor it – each day.
Deborah Weiner, Interim Director of Religious Education