South Florida, where I am at this writing, is fixated, rightfully so, with the possibility of Erika, a tropical storm with a failing fantasy to be a hurricane. The weather people here, as you might expect, track every hiccup. The forecasts produce maps of possible tracks of the storm and refer to the area likely to be impacted as the “cone of uncertainty”. I love this description: how perfect for this season of the year. In a matter of weeks our community will gather for 10 days of reflection and contemplation on the year that was and, more important, the year that begins. Where will we be, what will happen, what unknowns lie ahead? Talk about a real “cone of uncertainty”!
Ellul, as it marches to Rosh Hoshonnah, reminds me of these forecasts. We just do not know what the year ahead will bring. All we can do is try and prepare as best we can. (That is why my favorite prayer for the Holidays is the “unetaneh tokef”) As we get a little older (as in all of us) this “cone of uncertainty” seems more relevant. As I begin to evaluate the past year, I realize that there is no way I could have predicted what did happen. Our aging is like this unknown. How do we prepare for what we cannot see? Maybe, by examining our own feelings about our own aging. A lot seems to be evolving as people study aging and Boomer aging that reflect a changing attitude on our lives. One such an approach comes from a book “How to Age” by Anne Karpf, in which is written “Ageing is always not just a physiological but also a psychological, intellectual, social and cultural process….ageing is therefore less about the old and more about the new. Our brains, our minds, our relational capacities–given enough food, love, health and encouragement–all develop and grow.” (p.20)
So, is this next stage of our live all a matter of attitude?
Rabbi Richard F Address