FROM YOM KIPPUR HUNGER GAMES
“I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.” ― Nora Ephron
When I was in Kindergarten, my whole world revolved around the Power Rangers. So much so that during recess I would do whatever I had to do in order to swoon over the other ‘gartens to have them fancy me with the thrilling job of being the Pink Power Ranger. Some days, I was successful, and was allotted the role of twirling in circles alongside strong little men, swinging on the branches of aged oak trees and climbing on rusted swing sets.
But most of the time, I wasn’t picked. Left to blend in with the boring bleachers and idle classmates who preferred burying their noses in books and thumbing away at their Gameboys.
There was this one, tiny, girl who was admired by all the boys for her long flowing waves of dark brown hair and bulging teacup eyes that had a way of pulling you in and handing over your juice box to her because you want to be her friend–you wanted to be her.
One particular day (I must have rolled around too much during nap time or forgetten to eat my PB&J), she was picked to be the pink Power Ranger over me, and a horrendous spout of jealously leaked out of my 6-year-old frame.
And so I got up on this giant wobbly rock, demanded the attention of all the play grounders and screamed out two lines of nasty prose about this innocently gorgeous girl to the crowd. The two meanest lines that I have ever said in my 25 years of existence, leaving me to often look back and wonder Jennifer, what the heck were you thinking?! All this commotion over not being a Power Ranger?
I’ll never forget those words. I’ll never forget that day.
Last night I attended a Kol Nidre service on the eve of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is better known as the tummy grumbling holiday of fasting and saying you’re “sorry” for all that you have done or better yet, failed to do in the year past. It’s a day of forgiveness, a day of starting over, a day of realizing that you’re human–something we all so readily forget.
The room last night was packed, spewing over with people standing in the aisles, sitting on the ground, peaking through the windows. The Rabbi opened the service by stating the obvious. Yom Kippur is the most “un-Jewish like holiday” because it’s the only holiday not focused on food (most Jewish holidays involve stuffing yourself silly) yet there were more people in this room than she has ever seen, and it’s pretty obvious why.
Our lives are delicately draped in chaos, most days of the year. Consumed by making enough money to cut checks that pay for our expenses, boosting our personalities to remain in the clear with our friends, searching and longing to obtain items and feelings and nouns that we convince ourselves we won’t be happy without. It’s rare that we waste an ounce of our free time stopping short in our tracks, and in our mistakes, to process them and recover from them. Hence leaving us with this itch on our shoulders throughout the year.
When I got down from that rock and watched girl’s tears flood the palms of her hands, at the age of 6, I learned a very important lesson: At our worst, we can be jealous, rambunctious, mischievous individuals, who at the end of the day just want to be wrapped up in warm lavender hugs bursting with acknowledgement and attention–we all just want to be loved. But, we are human. And humans say things, and they do things, and they forget to do things that they then over accessorize in guilt and regret.
The wallows inside my belly that cry of hunger and scream for the chance to devour 3 bagels with smear and a bucket of black and white cookies today, is juxtaposed with the anguish of all that I have come to regret this year and throughout years past, as I spend today remembering, fighting with myself to understand how to move on and move forward. Swaying in the lopsided realization that if we really want to learn from our mistakes, we don’t ever have to repeat them again.
And that’s what today is for.
Today I understand that. Today I take a deep breathe and slowly exhale, remembering the people I’ve hurt, lost, may have selfishly forgotten about this year, and all the situations that didn’t go as smoothly and as calmly as they could have. Crumpling up my regrets, my mistakes, my wish-i-would-haves, and my I’m sorry, again and tossing them over my shoulder.
I feel lighter already. Is it time to eat yet?
Special note to readers: No matter your religious background, feel free to post anonymously in the comments section one thing you regret from this year. The Rabbi made us turn to a stranger during the service and confess one of our regrets. You’d be surprised at how owning up to your faults to someone you don’t know makes you powerfully accountable and takes a load of your chest!