As I write these words at the end of 2014, I am filled with a sense that the year has whizzed-by and I have hardly had time to catch my breath. And as I anticipate the new year of 2015, I am impressed with my very human need for beginnings and endings.
Time is, after all, a state of mind for us on the most fundamental level. You know what I mean: it seems to slow down when we are engaged in boring activities or anxiety provoking ones. It seems to speed up when we are on vacation, and invariably we ask ourselves, “Where did the time go? It just seems to have rushed by.” Time is illusive and difficult to define. So let’s imagine for a moment that it is a stream in which we swim. The stream doesn’t stop flowing and, in reality, we can’t continue swimming in it without a pause, without finding a place to rest. We do need to get out of the stream onto shore for at least a short break. And it is the short break that we engage in when we give time a beginning and an end. We can’t be in the stream of time without punctuating it, without stepping out and orienting ourselves within its flow. We need to know where we were, where we are, and where we are going. After all, we measure our lives with beginnings and endings in time. With a new year, we are reorienting ourselves in time, hopefully pausing for a sufficient period to consider where we have been, where we are now, and where we might want to go.
I hope that as you enter the New Year of 2015, you will make many occasions to pause and get out of the stream and imagine that you are capable of slowing down those fleeting moments of time. As you do that, may you fill those moments with friendship, love and good health.
A good and healthy secular new year to us all!
Rabbi Ron Herstik