Saul Bellow wrote, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
My daughter shared this with me last weekend, when she was trying to decide which essay to include in her college application. After a long and tear-filled discussion, she decided on the one that didn’t fit the mold, the one that felt right, the one she’d gotten up in the middle of the night to write. It came down to this question: if she found out she’d been rejected because of this essay, would she still have wanted to send it? Yes, she answered. Her courage and clarity inspire me.
It’s been a very intense month of Jewish holidays, beginning with Rosh Hashanah and culminating with Simchat Torah, which marks the conclusion and beginning of the annual Torah reading cycle. For me, the constant theme running throughout these holidays has been one of return, a return to my truest self—the self that is connected to the Divine, the self that is trusting and and fearless and creative. And all the practices and prayers and special foods that marked these holidays were anything but ritualistic and empty for me! They woke me up and reminded me to return to myself, to trust that “still small voice”, the one that wakes up in the middle of the night to write, and to remember that all I have to do is close my eyes and breathe and I am home.