Beginnings, Endings, All the Same

rosh hashanah

I love this time of year.

Not just Autumn, which is definitely THE most magical time of the year (sorry xmass), but September specifically. There’s something utterly transcendant about the end of summer meeting the beginning of fall: the heat making way for wind and rain; the sunflowers yielding to the deep purples and gold of the autumn wildflowers; the gentle shortening of the days.

September is a transitional month, beginning in the end of full bloom and ending in the beginning of ripe decay. It contains the Equinox, the Harvest Moon, the beginning of the school year in the northern climates of the US, and often several of the High Holy Days in the Jewish faith, specifically Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Beginnings and endings are powerful things, and maybe that’s why I feel like September is one of the most powerful months of the year.

I started The Artist’s Way at the end of August, and last week completed week 4 which required a “media fast,” meaning no reading, no tv/movies, no social media. This is a controversial week for many people. Think of it: telling a writer not to read? Yikes. And I’ve seen a lot of griping about it in the facebook group I’m in, and I, too, have been quite tempted to write it off in the name of “how much harm can it do?!”

But I stuck with it (about 90%, come on) and boy oh boy have I seen and felt the results. I am happier and more at peace and in tune with myself than I have been in years. I’ve felt waves of inspiration and understanding and faith that have been conspicuously absent for ages upon ages. I have felt full and blessed and truly, truly grateful for my life.

I spent a lot of time this week with no choice but to be present in the moment, which made me take stock of how often I am NOT present because I usually distract myself. For some reason I always want to be “occupied.” Meal times are the biggest culprits: watching tv, playing on my phone, listening to audiobooks/podcasts/etc. This week I paid attention to my food and thoroughly enjoyed it. I ate dinners with my person at the table and had lovely conversations. Since I didn’t get sucked into binging Netflix whenever I sat down to eat, I would clean up afterwards and clean other things, too. I deep cleaned my house all weekend because I suddenly had the energy and the mood to do all these things I’d been putting off because it was easier to read and say I was being productive because reading is always “productive.”

I’m obviously going to be reading again now the week is over, but I’m also going to try to make space for more silence in my life. We need the silence in order to hear ourselves think, in order to feel our own unfettered feelings, in order to let the randomness of experience coalesce in the petri dish of our brains and transform into that mystifying spore we call “inspiration.”

Another excellent thing about this time of year for me, right now, this year, is that my person is moving into my house with me this week. He’ll be moved in by this weekend, just in time for Rosh Hashanah (which always falls on or right after the New Moon). I’ll be making challah for the first time this weekend, and honey cake, and we’ll be celebrating our new home, together, by unpacking and settling in and creating the perfect space for us.

The traditional greeting at Rosh Hashanah is “L’Shanah Tovah Umetukah,” which means “For a good and sweet new year.” I think that’s highly appropriate for this most magical of months, in the most magical of seasons.

Happy New Year, friends.