Last September my grandfather Stanley Dorn died, and I reflected on his life and that of my grandmother, Louise Dorn. I said then:
We never talked about beliefs, I really don’t know if he thought he’d end up somewhere else when he left us, perhaps reunited, or if he assumed, like I do, that death really the last step. I’d like to think that he found some peace in the end, that he felt he was going to a better place. And for all I know, maybe he has. Regardless, he made a choice in his life and I don’t blame him for it, I can only blame myself, at least a bit, as I look back and think of some of the missed opportunities.
A wise commenter gave comfort on that day, responding in part:
I look through the windshield of life and not the rear view mirror. I do believe we find peace at the end….wherever that may be.
But this is not a post about endings, nor is it a post about beginnings; this is a post about continuances.
In a few hours my family and I are going to a Bat Mitzvah ceremony of a cousin who was only a year old when I myself was a Bar Mitzvah. When was that — twelve years ago this month? So many Septembers ago. I felt so old, it felt sort of Important, an Occasion, you know? And perhaps it was. Now time has passed, years have passed, and the thirteen year old child (young man?) that I was has faded into the distance, although he is still me, I am still him, in a way, in the now.
I look through the windshield of life — so many of us do. But like any conscientious driver, it is important to look into the rearview mirror as well. To glance there frequently, but not to dwell. To see the past in its multifaceted glory, and then to look again towards the future, in all of its wonder.
Today I stumbled upon an email from an old friend, sent on the occasion of another (also perhaps momentous?) occasion: high school graduation. She told me that she expected me to achieve great things, because that is the kind of person I am.
Now greatness can be defined many ways. But still, it is a heavy burden. I look through the windshield of life, at the road ahead, and I see bumps and dust storms and lots of long traffic lights. Do I see greatness out there, in the vast expanse? Hard to tell. But it is funny that once again I find myself, someone who is unabashedly non-religious, reflecting on such things just as the Jewish High Holy days approach: Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, filled with so much potential, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, filled with so much regret.