The preparation for Rosh Hashanah involves identifying your desires for the next year - what do you want to see in your life? And when you have identified what you want, what do you need to change about yourself to get there? What kind of negative traits do you have that will stop you from receiving that future vision? Common sense, really.
So many things have cropped up in the past week that I have a list as long as my arm of the things I need to change. Laziness and procrastination are just the start. Enjoying my own company and control of my own surroundings are another (which - let's face it - I need to overcome if I ever want to meet my soul mate and lose possession of the full length of the couch AND the TV remote).
Another issue for me is spontaneity. I'm not keen on surprises. I like to be prepared. But this is something I had not given much thought for a while, until today.
My teacher gave the lecture at Shabbat. Halfway through the lecture I stopped to think about public speaking and my own desire to speak to ever increasing audiences. I just can't imagine it. It's part of the future me that I cannot imagine being the 'Here and Now' me. And here is my teacher, explaining the energy of the week engaging an audience of 150 people, with such competence, knowledge and an incredible amount of humour and for a second I was questioning whether I was going in to the right line of business. I wondered whether I could stand up in front of the room and give an announcement.
What is more, the lecture was all about knowing that our nature never stops bringing us challenges - we can never sit back and say 'okay, that's it, I'm a nice person now - the rest of my days will be spent lying on the beach drinking Pina Colada'. If we are an angry person, we will never fully remove our anger. What we can aim for is bringing our angry reactions down from two days to two hours - short of a complete personality transplant, the challenges will never disappear.
My teacher likened it to a game of tennis - the energy takes place when the racquet hits the ball. And the balls keep coming. If we put the ball in our pocket and walk away, there is no opportunity to draw the Light. Or in other words, we need to face our challenges in order to receive the blessing. We need to keep returning the ball.
Half an hour later, I spotted one of my friends across the room and after waving and smiling, she mouthed "You're going to do the announcement for the Business Gym today"
WHAT?!?! My Ego was instantly affronted. I'm not going to do it. If she wanted me to do it, then she should have given me a chance to prepare something. Why didn't she tell me yesterday? I could have put something together and practised. I can't just be expected to jump up in front of 150 people without knowing what I am going to say. I mean, I don't mind speaking in front of people.. but only when I know what I am saying. I'll tell her No. She can't make me.
After ten minutes of trying every excuse in the book, I had a sudden image of a ball hitting a racquet. I knew what I needed to do - I hate being unprepared.. and here is a chance to break it. So I said Yes. Great, my friend said, the Business Gym is the last on the list of announcements.
They called me up first.
And what can I say - it went fine. More than fine, in fact. It felt good. It felt very natural - as though I had found my place. I felt a rush of adrenaline and the right words just came pouring out in the right order. The buzz afterwards was simply Divine.
So in the great tennis match between Light and Ego, the score stands at 15-Love. But no time for celebrating, I've got the rest of the match to play...