The first thing that comes to mind for today’s prompt is the pain and stuggle of yearning for something and not being able to attain it. And while that’s a common enough struggle, it’s not the one I think we wrestle with the most often across our lives.
It’s not knowing what we want.
More often than not, we stop ourselves from making up our minds…
… because we’re afraid of the pain should we fail to get what we want
… because we secretly believe we’re not worth having things we want
… because we’ve been taught wanting/needing things outside ourselves is a form of weakness
… because we’re still nursing deep wounds from a time we wanted something and were rebuffed
… because we don’t believe anyone else wants what we do, and we fear the shame of being called out
For those, and so many other reasons, many of us struggle to identify what we want, struggling to choose everything from breakfast cereal to clothing to activities to picking a book to read.
In defence we abdicate our desires and abrogate decisions. We defer to others and pat ourselves on the back for being polite, accommodating, and flexible. If we feel a tinge of regret because we are left unfulfilled when everyone else seemed to get what they wanted, we quickly subsume that feeling by realizing we avoided experiencing any of the hurt, fear, or shame we worried about.
Hiding in this kind of emotional cave leads to nothing good – for our mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being; for our work; for those close to us.
The month of Elul is the perfect time to confront our fears, to allow us to feel that yearning, and to allow ourselves to imagine a possibility achieving what we want without pain, and therefore have the courage to reach further, want more, and keep trying.