I always start off with the best of intentions. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. But, sometimes, the best laid plans go awry.
I remember in sixth grade, we did a planning activity. We had to create a goal, figure out what we were going to aim to do each day, and by the end have completed the goal. My goal had been to finish a house shaped, needle point, tissue box cover that we had started to make in class. Mine was white with black shutters, like my house was. I did it the first day, and probably even the second. But, spoiler alert, I never finished it. Like diaries that went unwritten in, gym memberships that didn’t get used as much as they could have been, books that never got read (not to mention written), letters that never got sent, even a scarf that never finished being knit (that one was supposed to be a gift; I probably still owe that friend a birthday present for that year. I should get on that).
I think that’s the problem with New Year’s resolutions, to be honest. They’re all about intentions. Yes! I know this is good so I’m going to do it!! That part’s easy. We all do it.
What’s harder is the deeper process of Cheshbon HaNefesh, the accounting of the soul, that we are instructed to partake in during the High Holy Day season. The internal process of figuring out how to be better–to do better–MUST go deeper than intentions if it’s going to be an honest process. If it doesn’t go deeper, then perhaps we didn’t really engage in the process.
It’s only when we truly figure things out, and truly endeavor to change, that we are able to make those changes. In the way we live, in the way we are, in the way we live in and interact with the world.
So, right now, I have a few intentions for the month of Elul. It’s my intention to participate in BlogElul. It’s my intention to finish unpacking all of the boxes that are in my apartment (or find a permanent place for boxes of things that I don’t really need while I’m here; like coats). That’s my plan. I don’t think it’s so lofty. And if I miss a day of BlogElul along the way, I can do it the next day (see yesterday), or even miss a day–it doesn’t need to get me off track. And if I don’t unpack that one box on the day that I had planned on it, I can unpack it the next day–that doesn’t need to get me off track, either. Plans don’t always work–but when they don’t, we need to make other plans to make up for them.
But what’s more important, is that I’m determined to do it because I knowhow I want to start the new year; and these are 2 things that will help me do that. The process of both will help me prepare both mentally and physically. It will help me get into the right head space. It will help me to reflect. And it will enable me to continue to live a life that’s deeper than intentions.
ken yehi ratzoni…may this be my will.