Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Packing Away the Losses and Looking Forward

All roads have led us here. 

I've always been a big believer in the "no regrets" philosophy on life. I like to think that everything happens for a reason (cliche), that the big dude upstairs never gives us more than we can handle (Jewish cliche), and that no matter how craptastic everything in life seems, gam zu l'tovah (religious Jewish cliche).

On this point, a friend sent me a video of Oprah talking about how there are no mistakes, that all paths and decisions lead to the same point, a greater destiny in time that we can't always see or envision or understand, but that all of our choices, good and bad, land us at that same destination. I'm not an Oprah-holic, but she has a very good point appropriate for both a new year and my life right now:
"There is a supreme moment of destiny calling on your life. Your job is to feel that, hear that, and know that. And sometimes when you're not listening you get taken off track. ... but it's all leading to the same path. There are no wrong paths. There are none. There is no such thing as failure, really. Failure is just that thing trying to move you in another direction, so you get as much from your losses as you do from your victories. Because the losses are there to wake you up."
The other day the local afternoon radio show was doing a segment where they were asking callers what, if anything, they would hop in a time machine and go back and change. There were all sorts of stories, from people cheating with their best friend's significant others to not taking amazing job opportunities and losing out on millions and millions of dollars. I started racking my brain about the choices I've made in life and trying to decide what I would go back and change.

I thought about the moment I decided to stop working for The Washington Post. A dream job, my friends said. People would have killed for my job at The Washington Post. Should I have stayed? Should I have found a way to make the hours and loneliness work? Where would I be now had I stuck it out? My dream was always to live in New York City and work at The New York Times, and maybe that dream would have become a reality. I had connections, I had the skill.

I thought about the moment I decided to really end things with a long-term boyfriend, a boyfriend with whom I held an epic love story of distance and years and drama. What if I had stuck around in Chicago instead of leaving to go to graduate school, what if I had made a commitment to be there for the one-millionith incarnation of our relationship? I had loved him, I knew him, I'd committed years to us.

Oddly enough, those are the only two moments in my life that popped up as possible "go back and change it" moments. And in that same instance of momentary thoughts I considered my son, my husband, my Judaism, who I am now.

Had either of those moments in my life not occurred precisely as they were meant to, no matter how much heartache, pain, and fleeting regret I have about them, I would not be where I am today. I would  probably not be an Orthodox Jewish mother to a beautiful little dreamboat of a boy or a committed wife to a husband a million miles away doing everything in my power to keep our world afloat.

I've had a lot of losses this year. I could enumerate them month by month for you, but that would be a labor of looking back, not forward.

I want to focus on waking up, not the losses. This year's wake-up call is propelling me into 2015 with a sense of commitment to my marriage and my son, to knowing that my father is in the right place for him, to solidifying a plan to return to the land where I feel so at ease even when I understand nothing I read or hear, and to feeling more alive and trusting in my Judaism.

After five years of doing Jewish (I finalized my Orthodox conversion on January 1, 2010), I think I can handle this.

Here's to 2015, everyone!