adventuresofarestlessmind

Archive for September 2012

Shanah Tovah! I write this on Day 2 of Rosh Hashanah 2012, and Day 2 of the year 5773!  (Amazing that us Jews get to live in two very different calendar years, 2012 and 5773, without travelling in time.)  

Fall seems like the perfect time to start a new year, and I think it makes more sense than starting in the dead of winter.  It’s a new school year, with new friends, and maybe with proper reflection, a new self.  

I believe that writing during the High Holidays is as important as actually engaging in introspection.  This time of year is a spiritual journey, and writing is a spiritual act for me, which brings me back to a quote I saw in an essay once: 

“Our oldest metaphor says that life is a journey.  Memoir writing is travel writing, then.” 

(I may be forgetting part of that quote, ironically enough.)    

Anyway, I wanted to start with a few lists as I end last year and begin a new one.  Lists do seem quite apropos for this holiday.  Avinu Malkeinu, for example, is essentially a comprehensive list of our hopes, prayers, wishes, goals, and spiritual requests for the year ahead.  

So here are the top 10 things I am grateful for, in the last year and this holiday period, in no order: 

-Friendship.  This time last year, I did not know many people beyond my roommates and neighbors.  Now I have met and gotten to know people with whom I can feel equally at ease talking for hours or relaxing quietly, and for that I am grateful.  Last year I sought out friends myself; now a few people seek me out for advice, and I feel like an actual important member of society when I can help them a little. 

-That I am surrounded by so many different kinds of people — the sweetly innocent, the refreshingly dry-witted and cynical, the happy-go-lucky, the quirky, the quiet ones who have so much more depth under the surface, and more.   

-That my roommate is a lovely human being. 

-That I come from a background where it is acceptable, and ultimately encouraged, to ask questions about my faith and come to my own conclusions about Judaism, and that I have found a group of peers who are exploring the same way.  Thank you BaRuCH, you all inspire me simply by articulating the thoughts I’ve always had.  

-That I can be proud to practice Judaism in my way, but at the same time, I can learn about other branches and customs by watching them and observing their practices and attitudes.  (More on that later.)

-That my family and I are all healthy, knock on wood.  And also that I am fully mobile again, as if nothing happened, after I fractured my ankle and ended up on crutches last Rosh Hashanah.  (Crappy way to start a new year, but at least I knew 5772 could only get better from there.)  

-That there is new life in my family.  Ellie Violet, my cousin Sara’s baby girl, is now one month old and even though I haven’t gotten to see her in person since her birth (sad), it is amazing looking at photos and seeing her grow already, and watching my Grandpa find wonder and awe in being a great-grandfather!  I love babies, and really, who doesn’t?

-That my knowledge of politics grew tremendously this summer, when Ben and I both interned at the Schneider campaign.  I still miss the political jokes we shared, the videos we made, and great feeling of community that came with knowing that everyone in the room cared deeply about the same cause.  And, I hope our common goal is realized in the new year.  

-That Chabad exists.  I might be biased since I just wrote an article on them, but who wouldn’t be grateful for a place where there is free home-cooked food and adorable children in the busy college environment?  

-And, last but not least, of course, that I have, and always will have the love of my family, whether over Skype or in person. 

And a few hopes to begin this year: 

-I hope that I will be wise enough to notice all of the opportunities that come my way when I am not seeking them, be it academic, extracurricular, or love and friendship found in unexpected places — and make the most of it all.

-I hope I will be able to look back on this coming year on Rosh Hashanah 2013, when I read the letter that I wrote to my future self, and feel that I have changed for the better.  

There is more writing to come, in these crisp fall days of introspection.  For now, I feel rested and ready for whatever is next!  

Hello, readers.  This is my first post written from my beautiful, air-conditioned Village C room at Brandeis!  It is wonderful to be back for sophomore year, even though I still have to remind myself I’m not a freshman anymore. 

So this is sophomore year.  A long time ago, I learned that the word “sophomore” literally means “wise fool”, according to English folklore. That is an interesting contradiction about human nature.  “Wise fool” – does that suggest that a person’s underlying foolishness cancels out whatever wisdom they might possess?  Are we nothing more than fools, despite the myriad things we’ve learned and experienced?  And what exactly makes us wise: expertise in a subject, our overall worldview, or both?      

I think the description of wisdom and foolishness fits this year well, in a good way.  As the year begins, I am simultaneously reminded every day how much and how little I know.  It’s refreshing to see how easy the transition to sophomore year was, compared to the head-spinning newness of freshman year.  The campus is familiar, and returning feels like settling back into an old routine rather than starting from scratch. 

What’s new this year are a few commitments.  My overwhelming desire to commit to every club and organization is still there (seriously, it must be something in the air at Brandeis), but now I am privileged to have leadership positions in two groups that inspire me.  This year I will be Deputy News Editor of the Brandeis Hoot, and Social Events Coordinator of BaRuCH: The Brandeis Reform Chavurah!  (Thank you, leaders, for entrusting me with actual club responsibilities.  I won’t let you down.)  As a Hoot staff member I will help come up with story ideas and get my lovely fellow news editors through Thursday production nights, and as Social Events Coordinator I will plan exciting bonding events to bring people together and sustain our group membership!  I am gaining knowledge of two passions of mine, writing and Reform Judaism, from the inside and hope each of these two experiences will enrich the other and make me a better person. 

And maybe it is all right to walk into my first board meetings or production nights and have no idea what I am doing.  There is a time and place to try anything, and that is college.  Maybe the time spent wandering outside of my comfort zone will teach me more about myself than my actual work.  Every journey begins with a single step, and maybe temporary foolishness is just the first step in a journey.  I am ready for whatever learning, new friendships, and further adventures this year will bring.  Last year I laid a foundation for the rest of college, and this year I hope to grow closer to finding my path and gain a little more direction for the future, even when my projected plans change every day.

With undying love for the Brandeis Democrats’ DNC viewing parties, my roommate, the sounds of a cappella everywhere, and every photo of my baby cousin Ellie,

Rachel