Serious bike rides require proper training. I learned that lesson the hard way at the Hazon NY Bike ride two summers ago. My left knee gave up after 46 miles, just towards the end of the first day. It was painful. This year I started training early, slowly increasing mileage towards the next ride on Sep. 4., half way through this 40 day journey towards the best or better version of me, inside and out.
A few years ago I realized that the solemn season with which we begin the Jewish new year, complete with feasts and fasts, is just like a serious bike ride, a marathon for body and soul, worthy of training and preparation for healthy and optimal results.
So I started the Prepent blog six years ago wanting to prepare and practice for the intense soul work that is at the heart of these days, leading into Yom Kippur, the day on which we rehearse our death and recommit ourselves to the best life possible. Deadlines are helpful lifelines to get us to our goal.
I like the notion that each new year gives me the option of reviewing the year that was, count my blessings, take a good look in the mirror, own the challenges, and commit to fixing what I can for a better year, a better me, a better world. When we come together as communities we affirm our commitment to this work and to our shared responsibility for the world, and for each other. But the heavy lifting happen within. That’s where the ‘pre’ in ‘prepent’ comes in.
Repent is a loaded word for the process known as ‘take charge of your life.’
The Hebrew term is ‘Teshuva’ which means ‘Return’ and also ‘Reply’.
One of the earliest uses of this term is in the 3rd century CE Mishna Avot, where Rabbi Eliezer counsels: “You should repent the day before you die.”
Which is, of course, each and every day, like today. Not to be too morbid about it, some mystical traditions assigned the 40 days leading to Yom Kippur as the days of awe during which one prepares for one’s death, taking care of unfinished business. Yom Kippur is the day on which we get to read our obituary. It’s a powerful exercise. And it also requires some humor. Dorothy Parker wrote:
Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die.
(But, alas, we never do.)
Well, sometimes some of us do.
So I am taking this intention on as this year’s PREPENT challenge and I’m inviting you to join me. Some journeys, even when so personal, are easier together.
Starting on the first of Elul, August 16th, I’ll post a brief daily note with do’s, tips, ideas, and the hope that my personal reflections will inspire others to take this process seriously as a beneficial conversation and process.
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