The Next Level

To those I may have wronged,
I ask forgiveness.
To those I may have helped,
I wish I had done more.
To those I neglected to help,
I ask for understanding.
To those who helped me,
I thank you with all my Heart.

~ Adaptation of a Prayer for Yom Kippur ~

A slightly different version of the quotation above came to my attention early this morning as I skimmed a Facebook message posted by a woman with whom I attended high school about six lifetimes ago. I know only a little about her, but her posts often suggest that she is a fundamentally religious person, although she seems skeptical and sarcastic about certain aspects of religion and life in general. I suppose we’re all a little like that.

I know very little about Judaism, but I know more today than I knew five years ago. Five years ago, I would have reacted to the Jewish religion in the same way I had always reacted to all other religions: with disdain, contempt, scorn. But as sometimes is the case, aging has brought with it a bit more tolerance, a touch more humility, and a tad more open-mindedness. And that has coincided with the recognition that  buried in the muck of organized religion and religious thought, there are kernels of truth. Not divine truth, but fundamental human truth; truth that lives within almost all of us in the form of compassion.

All of the foregoing  leads me to say  this: most religious holidays (even those steeped in metaphysical/divine/doctrinaire nonsense) have at their core some seeds of wisdom. Somewhere in there, hidden beneath all the ritual and assertions of divinity, fundamental principles of human decency are exposed; there, amidst the noise, is a vast expanse of silent peace.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is said to be the holiest day of the year in Judaism. With its central themes of atonement and repentance, the day’s importance addresses core ideas upon which Judaism is based. The day is observed not just by deeply religious Jews but by secular Jews who may not observe other holidays of the faith. According to Wikipedia, for many secular Jews the High Holy Days (of which Yom Kippur is the most holy) are the only times of the year during which they attend synagogue—causing synagogue attendance to soar. That’s irrelevant to my thinking this morning, but interesting, nonetheless. By the way, Yom Kippur this year will begin the evening of September 15 and end the evening of September 16.

Coincidentally, my sister-in-law sent me another quotation, based in religious thought, early this morning. I found it interesting, intriguing, and insightful:

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

~ Buddha ~

Now that I allow myself to absorb the messages of religion (while still rejecting the supernatural or divine premises upon which so many religions are based), I find more and more concepts that coincide with my notions of truth. And it’s not just a sense that those concepts validate my own; increasingly, those concepts cause me to think more deeply about my own world view. Sometimes, they cause me to make minor—and in some cases, major—adjustments in that perspective.

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And, so, that’s where my head is this morning, as I prepare for day two of my efforts to finally get my 2020 taxes completed and filed.  Yesterday, I got a great deal done. I really need more than two days to finish the process of getting my paperwork all in order; not just tax paperwork, but general financial and related paperwork. The stuff that my IC admonishes me to leave behind in favor of relying entirely on electronic/magnetic versions of bills, etc. I will admit to getting more than a little irritated by constant snarky remarks about receiving and keeping paper copies of bills. One day, I may decide to rely more heavily on companies that promise to keep my records safe and available, but that day is not today, nor will it be a day this year and probably not next. At any rate, it won’t happen until I am satisfied that all my paper records are completely and totally in order and safely catalogued.

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Come hell or high water, I will explore parts of the world outside my sheltered sphere sometime next week. I’d like to experience it in a self-propelled recreational vehicle, but I guess I’ll have to rely on my car. If I could, though, I’d go along for the ride with a couple I know from church; they’re somewhere in Michigan at this point—or maybe in Canada by now—experiencing cooler weather and freedom from the daily miasma of Village politics.  But they are not examining Iowa, which I’m intent on doing, so riding with them would not meet my needs for the moment.

I’ve joked with friends that the female half of the couple wanted to get a smaller RV that she feels comfortable driving so she could, if tight-spaced RV living were to become too constraining, leave her male companion at a gas station along the way as she escaped to total solitude and freedom. No, she is devoted to him, and he to her, so that troublesome fantasy will not come to pass. But if they decide they don’t like their RV, maybe they would let me borrow it for awhile. Hmm. That’s not likely, either. My IC probably would have something to say about that.

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If the world were a just, fair, and comfortable place, I would have a breakfast this morning of steak and eggs or congee and miso soup or pork chops with a side of spicy grits. But the world is not that fair, just, and comfortable place. So, instead, I’ll probably have a bowl of thumb tacks drenched in motor oil and flavored with lye soap flakes. Or cereal. Same thing.

Off to the races. Today, I’ll call an accountant to try to take this thing to the next level.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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Please talk to me about what I've written. I get lonely when I'm the only one saying anything.

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