“New year, same goal.”
I just got back from Rosh Hashanah services at synagogue and, as always, they made me stop and think. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, has been one of my favorite holidays for as long as I can remember. It’s part of the High Holy Days, a time to reflect on the past year and to think about the one to come. It’s a time to celebrate with family and friends, to be thankful for who and what you have and all the blessings you’ve been given. It’s a time to reflect on your life and what changes you want to make. It’s a time to be instrospective and a time to be outing (yes, I’m completely aware that I’m contradicting myself here). It’s a time of community but also a time to really take a look at yourself, your life, and your goals.
I have so many memories of Rosh Hashanah from years past. I remember going to synagogue with my family, sitting in the sanctuary as I listened to the rabbi speak and the cantor chant. I even remember the time my birthday fell out on the holiday and I tried everything I could think of to get my mom to allow me to take my new baby doll into the service (in case you were wondering, I had to settle for leaving her in the car). Services are always more crowded on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I’ve always loved that. There’s such a sense of family surrounding it, this sense of community that just makes you feel like you belong. It’s something I remember very clearly from when I was younger and something that still remains one of my favorite parts of the holiday. The synagogue may be different now (it’s been more than thirteen years and I still miss ours), the rabbi and cantor may be different now, I may be different now, but so much remains the same. The spirit of the holiday remains the same. The hope for a new year filled with good health, happiness, peace, and dreams come true remains the same. The fundamental ideas of what the holiday means and how it applies to everyone celebrating it remain the same.
It’s a holiday that makes you stop and think. It’s a holiday that fills you with reflections on the past year – what went according to plan, what unexpected surprises there were, what you would change if you had the chance. It’s a holiday that makes you grateful for what you have and that makes you dream of what could be. It’s a holiday that inspires, that fills you with hope and promise for the year to come. As I sat in synagogue today, I couldn’t help but think back to when I was sitting there last year for this holiday. I was just days away from beginning to send out query letters to agents, and I remember thinking of all the possibilities that lay ahead of me. Now, almost a year later, I’m still hard at work trying to find an agent. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get discouraged. It’s been almost a year, and it’s hard not to get a little upset when I think of all the time that’s gone by without making any progress towards getting an agent. But maybe that’s not true. Do I have an agent yet? No. But have I learned more than I could ever imagined about the publishing industry this year? Yes. Have I learned just as much about myself and my resilience? Yes. Have I learned life lessons? Yes. Have I accomplished many steps in this journey to get my books published? Yes – countless query letters and synopses written, editing done and redone, a total of over 3000 pages written since I began the first book, and more. I may not be where I want to be yet – I may even be far from it, but I keep reminding myself to take things one step at a time. I keep reminding myself to think of all I have accomplished this year, because I think it’s important to consider the positive rather than just dwell on the negative. Do I still feel like a failure at times? Absolutely. Do I allow that feeling to eat away at me? Not today, not when I have so many possibilities still lying ahead of me.
So instead of approaching this new year by reflecting on how much I wish my dreams had come true this past year, I’m going to approach it by resolving to continue to do everything I can to make them come true this year. New year, same goal. Because the thing is, when the goal is that important – when the dream means that much to you – you can’t simply toss it aside just because it’s taking a long time to become a reality. You have to embrace it. You have to hope that your dreams will soar, just like the sound of the shofar as it’s blown in synagogue during Rosh Hashanah services. I hope that’s true for everyone, that anyone who has a dream in their heart will be able to make it come true this year. So … new year, same goal. Does that mean I haven’t made steps toward accomplishing that goal? Not at all. It simply means that I want this too badly to ever give up on it. It means that it’ll be my goal year after year, until it becomes my reality. It means that I’m going to take all the discouragement I’ve been feeling, all the feelings of helplessness and frustration, and channel them into continued determination.
I was born on Rosh Hashanah, and that’s something I’ve always loved. Knowing I was born on this holiday of hope and promise is inspiring. This holiday itself is inspiring. Do I know if my dreams will come true this year? No. Do I know what I’ll be reflecting on when I sit in synagogue next Rosh Hashanah? No. But do I know what I want to come true and what I want to be reflecting on? Without a shadow of a doubt. And that’s all the inspiration I need to work as hard as I can to make this year one that changes my life in wonderful ways. L’shana Tova – here’s to a year that’s as sweet as can be for everyone.