There’s one word on a lot of people’s lips this week (or maybe it’s just the company I keep), and that word is Elul. The Hebrew month that leads us in our journey towards the High Holy Days next week is a month long reflective assault course, Shabbat to Shabbat as we approach the Yamim Noraim we are urged to introspect, refocus, pinpoint those crowning moments of the year gone by, pick out the things we know we shouldn’t have done, and imagine the things that we can do as we turn over a new, spiritual leaf into Tishrei. No mean feat really.
This week I’ve been trying something new, inspired by a post by the Velveteen Rabbi entitled ‘enough‘. I’m not exactly prone to buying into a life philosophy that says (in the words of the Velveteen Rabbi herself) “I’m working on cultivating my sense that what I am, what I bring, is enough“, I’d definitely say I’m more in a “must do more, can always do more, always work to do” type camp.
Something really got to me about this post however, and it was this phrase:
Enough doesn’t have to imply “just barely.” What if we embraced the sense that we’re living up to everything we need to be? What if we replaced the word “enough” with “plenty:” what I’m doing is plenty; what we have is plenty; there’s plenty to go around? What if “enough” connoted abundance, all our needs met and our wants fulfilled?
What scares me about saying “I am enough”? I suppose a simple answer is a fear of complacency. I’m motivated by the feeling that there is always more to do, more to explore, more to change, to improve, to repair. Is it possible to maintain that drive and at the same time wholly embrace ‘enough’, or even embrace the plentiful interpretation that Rachel Barenblat offers in her blog?
Can we allow room in our reflection over the past year for self-appreciation? Remembering that we are not alone in the tasks that we do? For imperfections that will remain when Elul arrives again next year, and the year after? Do we need those answers to the ‘big questions’ when next Wednesday comes around and the book of life (and virtual vault ) are opened for us? Can we settle for incomplete, imperfect, real us? Should we settle?
One of the comments on the blog post says the following:
Elul is not about being enough.
Elul is movement, it’s turning and returning; it’s saying, “keep moving up that ladder, because I know you can be so much better.”
I also disagree.
To me Elul is about the tension between being enough now, and more in the future, between self-compassion and self-critique, between taking a step back to refocus and reflect and taking a step forward to do and create.
If anyone finds that balance, can you let me know?
(If you’re in your 20′s and looking to get deeper into Elul reflection then join LEAPP and Reboot for 10Q offline http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=283895684969739