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To New Beginnings

I was walking to work on the first day of September when I realized that by at least one measure, summer was over. People were starting to ask me, "So, how was your summer?" not "So, how is your summer going?" My stock answer was, "It was the same as the rest of the year," because, unlike friends of mine who were on academic calendars, I had worked all summer at the same job as I had the rest of the year, with only one brief vacation to visit my grandmother. But the summer is not exactly like the rest of the year despite my no longer being a carefree youngster with two or three months to play in the sun. Its end hit me harder than usual this year.

Summer still signifies freedom and possibility in ways that fall, winter, and spring do not. The end of summer is the end of free concert and movie season in New York. It's the end of "Maybe I'll go to more events in the parks this summer," because there are no more free events in the parks this summer. I will have to wait until next summer. The end of summer means that I will never have a proper 2006 summer vacation. I will have to wait until next summer. In short, the end of summer brings the end of a certain freedom, a certain possibility that almost anything might happen (in a good way).

This year, the end of summer also brought the end of a seven month relationship that began with the first, hopeful lengthening of days in January and was now ending as the days became noticeably shorter and the night lengthened.

As summer ends, nature is about to shut down and die for the winter (at least the non-evergreen part of nature). The leaves are about to fall off the trees. In Central Park, which I see on an almost daily basis, the gardeners are raking up the few leaves that have already dried up and fallen listlessly to the ground. What's still green is no longer the bright, happy, hopeful green of early spring, nor the deep, verdant green of mid-summer. It's the tired, dusty, exhausted green of September. Nothing will be bright and shiny and new again until the snow starts to melt and the first crocuses of spring appear in late February or early March.

As I was walking and thinking, it occured to me that Rosh Hashanah was around the corner and that seemed even more ludicrous. How can we celebrate the beginning of a new year when everything good is ending or dying or leaving? Why does the year begin just when the possibility of freedom--the possibility of possibility!--is snatched away and we begin to hunker down for the cold days ahead? "How cruel can God be?," I wondered.

Then I remembered (finally!) that I am not the center of the universe, and in other parts of the world, far away from New York, the parched days of summer are coming to a close, and the first rains of winter are only a month away. Things that died back for lack of water over the summer will become revived. New saplings will grow, and if we are lucky, the trees will bear fruit and the fields grain. In other hemispheres, the winter is ending and summer is on its way. The world does not revolve around the agriculture of Central Park. Other things are going on in the world, unbeknownst to me. Babies are being born; relationships are growing; houses are being built; people are starting on paths of study that will lead to new and wonderful things. New beginnings are about to blossom. It's only a matter of remembering that there is life outside of my own small, contained universe of vacations that didn't happen this summer and relationships that ended with people I loved. It's only a matter of watching and waiting patiently for my own new beginnings to show.

Rosh Hashanah is here, in other parts of the world the fields are about to sprout brand new greenery, and God promises us an infinite number of new beginnings as we make our way through life.

Here is to the possibilities of new beginnings and of growth, even as the leaves fall wearily off the trees in Central Park. Here is to the hope that this year will bring new, better relationships, the capacity to go off on a relaxing vacation, time spent with family and friends, and hale health for all. Here is to the wish that we may all find strength when we are tired, hope when we are sad, faith when we want to give up, and supportive friends wherever we turn. May 5767 be all that you hope for and more.

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very touching. thank you.
Definitely one of your best posts yet, and not just because it's free of feminist undertones.
Your skills as a prose poet are vastly underutilized. There is so much about this post that I identify with; it made me cry.

Yasher Koach. And may you be blessed with a 5767 that teaches you as much as this year did, but without the pain, and with more joy.
This is beautiful! I agree with the other comments (though not with Avi's remark about "feminist undertones"--I think he means "overtones" or "undercurrents"), and I say "Amen!" to all the hopes you listed in the last paragraph!

Sorry to be so far behind in reading your blog.
Exactly what I needed to read in the first week after Sukkot.
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