Thoughts on Life: Starting Over

I was hoping to do 2,000 miles on the bicycle this summer, which is a pretty lofty goal for a sloth like me. So far, I’m half-way there, which means I can still hit 2,000 miles if I ride about 125 miles per day for the next eight days. No problem.

I was at 982 miles this morning and very excited at the prospect of hitting 1,000 today. So I put some mail in my saddlebag and rode to the post office and back and proudly clicked through the readings on my odometer. But my odometer doesn’t register past 1,000, so now I’m back at zero.

That’s life, isn’t it? You get to some level and then you start over. We’re finally at the top of the heap, seniors in high school, and then, bam, we’re back to being freshmen again. Four or five or six years later, we’re finally at the top again as seniors and then, clunk, we’re hired as third assistant stapler technician.

If we’re hired at all. Can’t make assumptions these days.

Starting over can be deflating, says the guy who’s done it about ten times, but it’s also exciting and invigorating. When we begin anew, we’re wiser than we were the last time, better equipped, not as likely to make the same rookie mistakes that tripped us up before.

Tabula rasa. The blank slate. I think about this quite a bit around this time of year, with the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, next Friday. Once a year, we reset our odometers to zero and start again, hopefully wiser than one year earlier. At best, we’re mindful and grateful for the gift we’ve just used up—one year we won’t get back again—and determined to enjoy the gift we are about to unwrap.

One important note about the Jewish New Year. It begins in the seventh month. The actual calendar begins in the spring, at Passover. So why would the New Year start when the year is six months old? There are historical reasons, but I like the idea of separating the business end of the calendar from the spiritual beginning. The year resets in the first month, but WE reset in the seventh.

Spirituality and religion aside, we all have the opportunity to hit the reset button and start over at any time we want. Today, for example. Today could be the day I no longer worry about money or appearances or possessions or the future. Today could be the day I start sharing more or listening better or paying attention to the joy that surrounds me.

On Rosh Hashanah, we say a prayer that includes the phrase Ha’yom Harat Olam. “Today, the world is born.” It’s become a bit of a mantra for me. I say it almost every day when I wake up and look out the window and see the new day I’m about to enjoy.

 Today, the world is born. For each of us, every day is Today. For each of us, the world is born anew every day.

 Tabula Rasa. The blank slate. Odometers at zero. And a world of possibility.



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