The point that’s rolling around my head, here in the waning light of Elul, is “give” versus “give up” (as in “relinquish”). What do we give willingly, versus what what do we allow to be removed from our possession, versus what is taken from us?
After the last 18 months, it may be easier to see the things we simply gave up: things like our time, our loyalty, our good intentions. People who did not have our best interests at heart expected we would simply hand over those things. And after all, it’s what we’d been doing for so long, it became normalized to us too.
But in the aftermath of the pandemic, we realized what our commute time could be worth. How little our loyalty was reflected back. How our good intentions were ignored – or, worse, twisted around to do us harm.
The last year and a half has been, in some ways, like a long drawn-out Elul – the shofar blast of COVID waking us up to the other existential realities around us.
Rather than allowing those realizations to harden us and make us spiteful and cynical, we can use it to help clarify where and when we should be giving of our time, money, attention, and emotion. We can turn our experience into informed action, and make better (meaning healthier, more meaningful, more positive) decisions in the coming year.