Now is the time after summer has ended and before the year gets underway. Like a huge intake of breath before the exhale, which will not come for two months, after Sukkot. I thought that I got rid of some of the hats I wear, but it seems I was unsuccessful. It seems that I wear as many hats as ever. And some of these hats get in each other's way.
As I settle into this community, I realize how entangled things are and see how innocent words or gestures set people off. This is a small Jewish community, and every piece of it is connected. When one piece moves, all the others feel it. Some more than others. I can appreciate why some groups in town prefer to do their own thing. Fewer repercussions to handle. Being part of the more intertwined community simple brings more players to bear on any given project. Working for one organization can subtly and significantly disturb other pieces.
I walk some precarious lines in this town, and this past summer has taught me that fact more than anything else. But this is also the beginning of my fourth year here. People are getting to know me. I have some successes in my past, and I am ready to face tomorrow. I know who are my allies, who is willing to stand with me and work with me. And sadly, I know better now who will not. Some things are bigger than me, which is as it should be.
It is not about me. It's about the kids, the Hebrew language, the synagogue, the culture around me, the families and their needs. The trick is not to lose myself. And that really is the rub in all this. Some time it feels like people expect you to take care of themselves to the exclusion of yourself and your own family. What they do not realize is that this expectation is destructive. It diminishes everyone involved. And feeling that need from others is seductive, and can even make you turn your mind from your own family, your own needs for a while. And no matter which choice you make, the other pieces of the community feel the choice, feel the change in the system. It is more a matter of how much dissonance the system can handle before breaking or replacing the piece that causes the dissonance.
Sometimes it is exciting to do something that makes the community move and dance. Think of a windchime, and how a gentle breeze pushes the pieces so that they come make music. Disturbances to the system actually make the system seem beautiful. Too much wind and the whole thing come crashing down.
So this year, I will try to be a gentle breeze. Wish me luck.