Turn and Face the Strange

I sat down in the seat of a roller coaster, and some stranger strapped me in. He pulled on the harness to make sure it was secure, but I pulled on it again, to make sure he did it right. My heart raced as I waited for the ride to begin. We pulled forward and I started to panic. There was no turning back, so I gripped the bar until my hands turned white. Tick, tick, tick… up the mountain of tracks we went. I started praying, and then whoooooosh… down, around, to the side, upside down. The ride was over, and I was elated. I did it. “Let’s do it again,” I said… and the panic cycle started all over again.

I’m not great with change. When a major shift in my life is looming, I suffer in advance. I worry and think and over-think and mourn the loss of what is as I tick, tick, tick, up the personal mountain waiting for the whoosh of change to follow. But just like on the roller coaster, once I’m flying through the changes, I’m usually fine.  However, the waiting and preparing are unbearable.

The Jewish people have a long, beautiful, fascinating history of making it through big life changes, and the Passover story has to be one of our most important. Freedom is a well-known theme of Passover, but rarely do we discuss the emotions the people must have gone through… the glory, the fear, the joy, the pain… as they departed from the known life of slavery into the unknown world of freedom. We know from Torah that the people struggled with the transition. Even though the future had so much potential, and the past was so dark, the changes were frightening.

Let’s think about our own lives when we had major life shifts. Even when we knew that we were moving toward something potentially beautiful, was it still a little scary? Did we, in some ways, want to hold on to the past even if we were excited about the future? I know I always do. In fact, I’m holding on right now.

This Passover, and every Passover, we have an amazing opportunity to peer into our futures, clear out some dusty old habits, and prepare ourselves for being as close as possible to the people we want to be through the ups and downs of our roller coaster rides. When we are in our homes, with little lamps, searching for the last bits of chametz, let’s not forget to turn that lamp on ourselves to the illuminate the darkness inside of us. We all have ways we are proud of who we are and ways we wish to improve. With each bite of matzah, we are reminded that with our freedom comes the responsibility to improve ourselves every day and be strong when we step into our own unknown journeys into the wilderness.

So, let’s walk boldly into our futures, as much as we can, flashlights on, bravely facing the tick, tick of the ride, and let’s stand tall as the most holy versions of ourselves as we whoosh down the tracks of our lives. I’ll be strapped in right beside you.

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Happy Pesach!

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