New Year, same questions

A new year is upon us Jews. 

Rosh Hashanah starts Sunday.

In the past, these high holidays I’ve met with indifference. It is just something we do. I wasn’t clear on the why, but I was clear on the how. Find a dress that mother approves, say Shana tova to all, eat sweets, entertain my parent’s dinner guests, put on makeup and try and mask the foot pain as we stand in heals for hours in services. Motions required like brushing teeth.

If anything it was an annoyance. The Jewish holidays always interrupting the beginning of the school year. Interrupting the flow. And getting my kids dressed up to go someplace that is anything but kid friendly was not easy.

And services felt like I was going through someone else’s motions. Reading words that I didn’t understand. Sitting to then stand, stand to then sit. Always waiting for the next time to rise. The only active process in a passive experience.

In 2011 I was introduced to Q10 by a dear friend. It’s 10 Days, 10 Questions. That’s it. Every day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur you answer a question. The questions ask you to reflect on the year and they are stored for you to look back years later.

It has become my ritual. My way to recognize what I believe the Jewish New Years is about, self improvement and self forgiveness.

I’ve never taken the time to look back at my answers over the years. Why would I? I was always too busy thinking forward. I hardly even had time to answer them. 

Today I changed that and put them side by side. Looking at the same question year over year. 

Here is one question: Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

Below are the topics, not my writings. I tend to go on…and on…

2011: The Arab Spring.

2012: Syria. 

2013: Syria

2014: Ebola/ Isis

2015: Isis

2016: Donald Trump/ Brexit

2017: Charlottesville

2018: Trump/ American policy

And when I read what I wrote about each of these topics, it was if I wrote them today. Nothing has changed.

And it just begs the question where do we start if we never finish anything? All these international and local issues just pile upon each other, year after year. And at some point we get complacent. Anything can become a new normal. Even genocide can become “normal.” Look at Syria.

Anything can become normalized and that scares me.

And I’m a testament to that too.

Chemo feels like the new normal. 

Never thought I would say that, but after surgery, this feels normal. I’m back to “life” now. I’ve even been able to go to work and see people. Life is sitting in the hospital for 12 hour days as Jacob gets pumped with poison. I don’t cry about it anymore. I don’t ask questions. This used to be hell, but now I know what hell can be so I cherish these days. Just a dose of poison and some vomiting. Phew. It could be worse. It could be life threatening surgery.

So is Syria, Trump, White Nationalism, children with cancer, etc the new normal? Do we just accept it? I don’t see any other conclusion as here we are.

And here I am with the 10Qs coming and I will document new issues while forgetting about the others as I don’t see them anymore. They have become just the new normal.

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