I'm getting lots of practice in doing these days. Lots and lots and lots. And then more lots. I may want to breathe at some point, but there are things I have to do first. I have appointments to make, meals to cook, rooms to clean, beds to make, forms to sign, homework to check, lists to make, doctors to see, supplies to buy. There's a fearful symmetry to all the things that have to be done: wash then dry; fill it up, then empty it; drive away, drive back; wake up, pretend to sleep (I was going to say go to sleep but that wouldn't be quite true, and I figure, truth is kind of an operating principle in this exercise, right?).
There's the not-so-small boy child (who is actually now taller than me) who has questions and carpools and places to be. There are friends for coffee and catching up. There are parents, just in from Scottsdale, who need a car, and a key, and lessons on using a smart phone. There's my uncle, who is failing, and I can't even begin to know what to do for him, except be there and hope that that's enough. And that's just from 8:06 - 9:37. AM. Then what?
Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Eat. Drink. Walk. Run. Stumble. Fall. Get up. Do it all again.
I am drowning in all this doing.
I can't help but hear, in some small corner of my head, amid all the other noise that is urging me on, to fix more and do more and add one more thing to the ever-growing list of all things doing, this whisper of a voice: Stop.
And when I listen to that small, whispery and annoyingly smart little voice, I am reminded that all of my doing - as wonderful and loving and necessary as it all is - is hollow and oh so brittle, that it is more running than doing. There's a lot of hiding you can do, when all you do is, well, do.
Here's the thing, though: it is Elul, and, because it is, I can, if I can, give myself permission to stop: stop hiding, stop running stop doing, in that empty, hollow brittle way. I can, if I can, do it differently (Go ahead, I dare me!)
So I'm doing this again, this Elul blog-writing thing. Last year, I embarked on this odyssey somewhat unprepared - for the task at hand, for the difficulty of it, the tedium of it. Mostly, so unprepared for what I'd be on the other side of it. Every day, for twenty-eight days (and then ten more, for the Days of Awe - Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur) (because I'm nothing if not a little obsessive) I wrote essays - and a few poems - based on prompts provided by my friend, Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.
It turned out that writing was the easy part. More difficult (more scary, more liberating, more revelatory) was the diving in, shining the light and letting it bend and reflect and refract, swimming through the thousand and ten layers that stand between me and my - what? heart? soul? chewy candy center? All that doing - I did it differently, and so was changed.
As I stand, poised at the edge of this journey again - that will take me through a wilderness, through lush valleys and arid deserts, through narrow, twisty passages that make me tremble with fear and delight, I pray for the courage to dive, to see. to bend and to do - so that I can return.
Rosh chodesh Elul sameach.
Stacey Zisook Robinson