With Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur around the corner, it is not unusual for thoughts to turn to what the new year may bring and what has transpired in this past year. There is a sense of quiet introspection that begins to pervade our community as the month of Elul draws to a close and we begin again to think of what this next year may bring. The liturgy of the Holiday services are filled with powerful images that call on us to reflect. This idea of looking back to look forward was brought home again in a recent posting by Suzanne Gerber that I came across in the Next Avenue web site. (www.nextavenue.org). The article reported on a new book by a Los Angeles therapist, Dr Judith Orloff, entitled: “The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life”. Orloff wrote of the concept of letting go of the need to control things in life. The posting got me thinking of what seems to many, as we age, a slice of wisdom that we try and gain. Gradually we seem to come to the realization that life is too short to continue to be weighed down by things in our past that we can not (and could not) control.
All of us, at times, seem bound by regrets. Some of us spend a lot of time in that land of “if only” or “should have” or “could have”. As we age, many of us begin to understand that to be bound by these feelings is to be held back from life; and life is too short for that. Orloff embraces the idea of surrender, not as a sign of weakness, but as a means of letting go of that which hold us back. “What it entails is taking a conscious look at what’s working in your life and what’s not, and then deciding which parts you want to let go of because they’re holding you back, and what you want to surrender into. It’s about making choices…I think that at midlife and beyond people can go through a constant rebirth, and that’s what the surrender is. It’s not buying into the negative, ridiculous, fear based ideas that society has about aging.”
And yes, this sounds a lot easier than it is. Yet, the first step in this process of “letting go” and surrendering may be a promise to our self that we will examine that which still holds us captive. Life is short. There is so much to enjoy and savor that to have one part of our soul constantly tied to a past that we cannot change or could ever control is to hold our souls in a type of psycho-spiritual limbo. Something to think about as the New Year begins to dawn.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min