Thursday, August 8, 2013

#Blog Elul: Act

So much is going through my mind as I think about acting, action, taking steps to act, preparing to act, acting as if...

"Actions speak louder than words."-is a favorite. But then again I'm not always so sure I agree with that--after all, how many times have you been an incredible friend, created a warm and welcome community, given hugs, wiped away tears, only to be confronted when a (not-so-well-thought-out/poor-life-decision) word slips out?

Instead, I keep thinking back to #HillelInstitute where I spent last week learning about vibrant Jewish life, and how to live life vibrantly as a Jew (two different things in my opinion). In taking my second major, Jewish Professional Development--emphasis was actually on the Jewish--one of my teachers, Rabbi Neal Schuster taught us something that I will never forget: "When you stop and thing 'someone has to do something about that,' that someone must be YOU."

I realized that there are many days where I've sat and thought...and complained...or kvetched...or vented...or asked questions...or gotten angry...or blamed...or wondered..."WHY ISN'T ANYBODY DOING ANYTHING?" I got lost in the fact that all the complaining/kvetching/[insert awesome gerund here] was just as bad: it was a lack of action.

Now, it's not always in me to act. I like to think of great ideas, outline them to their fullest, discuss them in my head, discuss them with other people--and then forget that I was supposed to start them. I've recently started a running program (in hiatus this week due to a pretty tricky chest cough) in an attempt to get healthier--my action was to take the first step. To download the Couch-to-5K app on my phone, to buy the correct sneakers, to leash up Ellie and to walk out the door. It was difficult--but I acted.

At Institute, I implemented my "meal mission": finding people to sit with can be a nightmare--especially if you're shy or don't want to interrupt what you think is a meeting. Now if I (or if anyone who I shared the mission with) see anyone walking around looking for a place, I automatically invite them. Come sit! Our table's full? Pull up a chair. No more spaces? Move to a bigger table! I guarantee you that no matter what my conversation was about, it's not more important than you needing a community to sit with. Large conventions tend to make me anxious--but I acted.

As the year goes on, it's my intention to keep acting. To keep putting the wheels in motion, never complacent with things "being fine" but always acting to keep furthering relationships, try new things, not let fear stop me from living a vibrant life as a Jew while promoting a vibrant Jewish life on campus. I always tell my students that I will never force them to do anything that I am not willing to do (inclusive of rafting, vertically scaling a mountain, hiking, and climbing into a 2200 year old cave), and in so telling them, I put the impetus on myself to act. If I want them to try new things, I must try new things.

My boss/mentor often tells me he would rather I take large risks ("go big or go home") and make mistakes than to let fear and passivity take over. Rabbi Naomi Levy writes, "Wake me up G-d; ignite my passion, fill me with outrage. Remind me that I am responsible for Your world. Don't allow me to stand idly by. Inspire me to act. Teach me to believe that I can repair some corner of this world." By writing these words, I am acting. By living these words, I give the action true meaning.

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