Wake Up!! TorahCycle Shemot

shemot 2013

We’re at the beginning of the next beginning. Actually 400 or so years into it. It’s like waking into a bad dream: We’re overworked chattel. The sun’s hot. Threats abound. Blessings, poof! We’ll need everything we worked so hard to learn, if only we can remember what that is.

We get used to our realities. We don’t live under overseers’ whips, though our lives are filled with requirements and expectations, to ourselves and others. We go through our days, find comfort where we can, and are happy to collapse in front of dinner and our screens.

We stay in jobs, relationships, and other situations that don’t nourish us. It’s not that we don’t know we’re dissatisfied. Certainly our kvetching and the sadness around our eyes are big giveaways. But we feel like we made a commitment, aren’t sure if just one more try might make the difference, or even what we would do differently, because we’re not sure we’d be able to pull it off.

Economists have a theory called sunk cost. It’s the idea of Don’t throw good money after bad. (And implicitly, stop whining about what you can’t get back and do something different.) Even understanding it intellectually, I’ve always found it hard to embrace. It goes against every fiber of heart. Nooooo! I want this to work out. To be okay. Not to disappoint, or hurt. Not to cause or feel pain. Just hang in. Things’ll get better.

In our attempt to accept the status quo, we keep lowering the bar of what’s good enough to put up with. To our own detriment. As Kenny Rodgers sang: Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.

Shemot arives to say Hey! Wake up!!

It’s a shofar blast, jolting us out of our discomfort zone. Time to get going. To acknowledge this now is bad for you and to do something about it. Time to face whatever’s next. Even if the birthing process is unknown, risky, or scary. Because doing nothing is worse.

Eastern religions are full of great enlightenment stories. There’s meditative sitting. Focusing on breath. Solving intractable riddles. And immediate experience, like the woman who groks the wholeness of creation as her chapatti dough drops into hot oil. Snap, crackle, pop and suddenly it all makes sense.

This story will take longer. Lots of hubbub and equivocation before the race for the gates. But it signals the most important message: we will change.

Have you ever woken one morning realizing it’s time to end a job, relationship, or addiction. How could I have stumbled so long in the dark?, you ask. What I need to do is so clear. Duuuuhhhh!!

Each life has good times and hard ones, growth and stasis, joy and sorrow. (For everything there is a season.) But like seasons, lives should transform.

A handful of years ago the book Not Quite What I Was Planning started the idea of a six-word memoir. Try writing one for your life. And for right now. Are they the same or different? What pushes and pulls you, inner and outer? What are they telling you to do next? What six words would you want to write next year?