Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: It seemed like a great idea at the time. You have all these hopes. It’s inspirational to think you have found “the one,” “the answer,” or at that you’re making if not the finest decision of your life, at least the right and best one for that time. One that’ll have great outcomes. Make you happier, healthier, richer, wiser, whatever quest you are on and hope to make a great leap forward pursuing. If you’re in peril or danger, there’s that special relief that you’ve found sanctuary: happily ever after, lush fields, safe home, goats in every yard, and grain for every pot. Good luck with that.
Life is cyclical: this week’s harbor will become next month’s prison. Now we’re being welcomed by a long-lost brother; soon we will be slaves. That’s Torah. In real life, events usually take longer to unfold, and situations are rarely as dire, thought they can feel like it, which helps ready us for the yet next shift.
Torah is a metaphor for evolution. The morals of the next sections: You have to be ready and willing to change to actually change. It may feel great in the beginning but it gets harder. There’s rough stuff and tough times to get through. Freedom and evolution are great goals. Getting there requires hard work. And then more hard work. It’ll feel better before it gets worse, and eventually better again. The in-between matters. How you do it helps determine when you land.
We have one more chapter in Genesis. Remember this all started with creation. From the void till now, we’ve gone through several cycles of starting over, as a species, families, and individuals. We screwed up before, and are likely to do it again. But if we’re living in good faith, trying to improve, to do better each time around, if we’re paying attention to the lessons and continuing to do our homework, the process is worth it. We may never get where we think we want to go. But each new there will teach us what we next need to learn.
For now, we’re choosing to go down into Egypt. To the place that looks good, for now. Like the new love who offers rescue from lonely evenings, or the job that promises income and advancement, Egypt seems like a sure bet. The reading is optimistic: Joseph is united with his family and they’re invited to move in. Smiles, handshakes, and toasting abound.
Part of the message: before you start engaging with new deep work, make peace with as much of your history as you can. The less you’re packing, the better off you’ll be when you enter the murky, mucky parts.
It’s all a mirror of the healing process, however you go about doing it. This is a powerful time to take stock. Not just the end-of-year best and worst lists. But a soul level, What am I working on and How’m’I gonna do it? kind. Asking and answering will serve you well in the times to come.