Monday, September 29, 2008

Clean Slate

Thankfully, I don't belong to one of those cultures where we make new year's resolutions. If I did, keeping up with this blog would probably be on my list. It's not that I've run out of ideas, but I have been just a tad short on time. When I can, I'll go public about it, but right now, suffice it to say that this coming year promises to be a wild ride for me.

The Jewish New Year (for those of you who are oblivious to the ways of the "J Club", we celebrate the new year in September), we reflect on what we've done over the last year, and we get an opportunity to repent our sins. We are told that the big guy upstairs will forgive us, but as with everything in J-land, there's a catch. The catch is that you can't repent to the big guy until you have gotten forgiveness from your fellow mortals.

I don't know about you, but I find it much easier to ask forgiveness from God than from my fellow man. Not only that, but it's all written out for you, how to say it and how to apologize for stuff you don't even know you did wrong. With my fellow mortals, I have to come up with something that doesn't sound to stupid, plus I probably need to apologize for things I didn't even know I did wrong (but the fellow I'm talking to certainly does). So like most people, I typically I skip this step.

What we don't realize is how critical it is to forgive and be forgiven. This is the root of leaving the past in the past. You know how it is when something isn't complete with someone in your life. You skip over their phone number, and you get that funny feeling. You avoid thinking about them or talking to them. Or you talk to them about everything except that funny feeling. In these cases, there is no chance for anything new to happen in the relationship. It isn't clean.

Same with yourself. If you have broken promises to yourself, you can't move on. You can't create new things. The act of getting forgiveness from God is not far detached from the act of getting forgiveness from yourself. We dress in white, and we close the book on last year, and then it is behind us, symbolically.

Whatever you haven't personally left behind, it gives you that funny feeling. Whatever you have left behind is invisible, and leaves an empty space, a new year, a new world.

I think that's why Judaism doesn't talk specifically about new tasks or challenges for the new year. It's a recognition that if you have a clean slate, if you have resolved all the issues that needed to be resolved, then what you have is the potential to fill the clean slate with whatever you choose. This can be a year of new relationships with new people, or new relationships with the same old people -- if you have done the work of leaving the past behind you. It's not easy work but it's mandated, so here we go.

I've committed over the next 10 days to make calls to resolve open issues in my relationships. If I don't call you, and there is anything open or unresolved between us, by all means call me. Let's just keep it clean.

For myself, I am declaring this a year of all-out love, all-out fun, all-out freedom, and astonishing results. Stay tuned!

Shana Tova v'metuka to all of you.