Last week was Rosh Hashanah. We spent 49 hours reflecting on the big things from the year that just past – what we are proud of, where we missed the mark, and what we’d like the new year to be for us. Tonight is Yom Kippur. For the next 25 hours we will reflect on the details of what we did in the previous year and how in the coming year it might be different – how we might learn from our behaviors of the past to inform our behaviors of the future.
“Teshuvah (repentance)… is about the power to make change, to transform our lives, our relationships, ourselves. The road upon which we travel – we are laying its bricks each day. We may not be able to change the bricks, but we can change the direction of our path… Teshuvah means we change our future BY changing our past – or at least by changing our understanding of the past. By transforming ourselves, we transform our relationships, with our loved ones, our friends and colleagues, with the universe, and with God.”
This week the world lost a giant. Steve Jobs was larger than life and changed our world. Even so, his life was no different than others — there were things he was proud of, times when he missed the mark, and many thoughts of how he might do things differently.
Making its way around the world this week is the graduation address he gave at Stanford in 2005. Those messages resonate for me as I prepare for Yom Kippur.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward… only looking backwards. And, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. Believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart… Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith…”
Yom Kippur is about setting new intentions – trying to live our daily lives with more purpose and more focus, so that we hit the mark we set out for ourselves. And while we may not be able to connect the dots prospectively we can sketch out a plan and carry it close throughout the year. And when we get knocked off course – intentionally or otherwise – we can refer back to our plan – readjust as necessary – and continue to work towards becoming our highest selves.
Steve Jobs shared a quote to the Stanford grads that he had heard along the way. “If you live your life as if each day was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
His message recalls for me the teaching of the hassidic masters. Every person should carry a note in each of his/her two pockets. On one it should say, I am but dust and ashes. And on the other, the world was created just for me. Different days have us reaching into different pockets, but the secret of living, the masters teach, comes from knowing when to reach into which pocket.
Over the next 25 hours, may we gain insight to set the right course for our lives in the year ahead, and gain wisdom to know when to reach into the right pocket when we stumble from that path. Gmar chatimah tovah.