I love the few days between the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Succot. I hesitate writing this because I want this blog to be for readers of all kinds but whenever I speak personally Judaism is my “meaning” frame of reference. As a matter of fact anytime I speak personally my one-of-a-kind experience is my frame of reference. I wonder, can this be meaningful for anyone else?
But I believe that any individual’s experience while being unique, has some point of meaning for someone else. If not, how could we ever learn from other people’s mistakes (except for teenagers who only want to learn from their own mistakes)? How could we ever be inspired by the courage or achievements we see in someone else? The other person becomes part of the “reality” that we see that calls us to become the person we can be.
So back to my free association of these sandwich days. You may have experienced something similar yourself whenever you’re in between events. There’s a day of great intensity followed by very ordinary days and at the same time these ordinary days are a lead-up and preparation for an exciting celebration.
The feeling for me is one of relief that the intensity is over because it’s hard to hold on to it yet wanting to bring it into ordinary experience. I want to somehow capture this intensity and sprinkle it into regular everyday-ness. An impression like that cannot just disappear. The impression after Rosh Hashana, the new year, is a sense of world unity under one sovereign God and my sovereignty over my world. On Yom Kippur I harness that sovereignty and that maturity and take it into a willingness to stand exposed in all of my flaws and bad choices with no excuses but only admitting my wrongdoing, learn from it and move on. I then come out of that experience feeling purified and ready for a fresh start.
Armed with the determination and commitment to remember people’s names as a small new start for the year, I began my practice – asking the person to repeat her name for this one and finding memory devices for that one and following up forgetfulness with a lot of repetition.
In addition to this I’m enjoying the ordinariness. There is nothing at all that I absolutely must do today. I can get up whenever I want to. There is nothing to rush to. At the same time it’s unlike an ordinary day any other time of year. The holiday spirit from a few days ago infuses these days of “nothing special” with a specialness of their own in spite of my feeling so very free and relaxed.
It also does not escape my notice that another holiday is already upon us. From a logotherapy perspective this time of year is a time of responsibility and transcendence and discovery of meaning that then leads to true happiness.
On the Succot holiday it’s the happiness of a basic trust in life, trust in the power and loving guidance of the Creator of the universe and Creator of my life to bring me what I need in order to create a meaning-filled life for myself and for those around me. I can feel the anticipation of the days to come. We’re building and getting prepared to sit in the Succah where we’ve created a temporary dwelling to remind ourselves that all of existence has a temporary quality to it. Life unfolds into a mysterious unknown. Life is constantly changing. Everything can be taken away in a moment. Yet what remains everlasting is our relationship with God, others and self and the meaningful choices we make for the sake of these relationships.
Sandwich days are days to harness and anticipate, to store and restore energies of responsibility and energies of bonding.