This blogpost is part of #BlogElul (Day 3: search), a small but mighty online movement to combine spiritual practice with our posting on social media - encouraging us to bring personal reflection and introspection to our posts, snapshots and captions. Learn more and join us >>
As the main website charges, "Get up, get out and explore!" And people were doing just that. At first, it looked like a bunch of zombies walking around with their focus on their smartphone screens. But upon taking a step back, we noticed that groups were exploring together and even connecting with complete strangers over this newly discovered common interest. And while some retailers and museums have understandably embraced or winced as enthusiasts have wandered in, there has been plenty of good that has come from this craze that has certainly been sweeping the nation. When I offered a "PokeWalk" for our staff the following week, it was truly awesome to have nearly 20 staff members walking together, connecting over this shared enthusiasm and discovering new things...around us and about each other.
I'd like to take this concept to the next level. Imagine if we approached life like someone does while playing Pokemon GO - with excitement, anticipation, wonder. As we prepare for the new year, think about where our journeys will take us and identify what we would like to search for and add to our personal and collective narratives, we can connect our pop cultural interests with an older concept that is tried and true from our teachers.
Regardless of how fast or slow the summer months seem to pass by, my kitchen table remains a pretty accurate read of where things stand. Piles of information for interesting potential opportunities, remnants of adventures gone by, and a few stray books that didn't quite make it onto the reading list. Sitting in the corner like its minding its own business (while in reality seems to jump out above everything else) is my to-do list. Normally, I find solace and gain a sense of accomplishment in seeing the crossed-off items. Not right now. This list displays all of the "wanted-tos" and "should-haves" that didn't quite happen over the past three months. And, yet, it's time to turn the page and move forward. But is it really?
Elul is the month that precedes the High Holy Days and is traditionally a time for introspection, personal reflection and preparation as we plan for the new year. Part of this is looking forward and planning for the future, but we need to step back and take a hard look at where we've been, what we've done and where we are. This includes looking at those last standing items on the page which have yet to be crossed or checked off, and asking ourselves why they didn't happen. Were we too busy? Did we prioritize in a way that represented our best selves? Should we add them to the new list about to be created? Lots of questions. Lots of thinking.
Admittedly, I would consider myself to be swimming in the "deep end" right now. I actually dove into this process three weeks ago, both wanting and needing to give myself a head start. Here's the quick version of the timeline:
June: gave notice after 12 years at work, spent a few days packing and then went to camp;
August: wrapped-up camp, first vacation in 7 years, returned home to (try to) figure it all out;
September 1: started new job.
[insert animated expression here]
So...yeah. It's been a busy summer. I didn't write as much as I wanted to. I didn't accomplish all of my goals. And I didn't put on enough sunscreen. But I feel really different. Maybe it's all of the time I spent in the car last month? Maybe it's the space I am trying to give myself to process. Maybe it's because the Superman vs. Batman movie was just that bad. But I'm here, and I'm present. It's time. Hello Elul.
One of my favorite things to do each fall has been to spend time in our synagogue early childhood learning programs, sharing the shofar with our younger friends. One of the songs that we sing as we sound the shofar says, "I like to hear the shofar blast. Sometimes slow, and sometimes fast." Just like in life - sometimes things come along a bit slower, and faster at other times. The shofar is sounding as a reminder for me to slow it down and take the time I need this month to prepare, which is one of the reasons why I am grateful for #BlogElul and #ElulGram.