This is one of those days when I feel depressed and everything seems to go wrong and I can’t work out if things are going wrong objectively, making me feel depressed (or more depressed) or if I’m feeling depressed, so it feels like everything is going wrong.
We’re almost into the last full week of the Jewish year. I feel a weight of responsibility, trying to change significantly for the better in the coming year, but combined with a sense that I don’t really know where I’m going. What career should I pursuing? What will happen with me and E.? What would be best for us? Will I ever become financially self-sufficient? What should I be doing Jewishly? Will I ever feel comfortable in my community? Do people even like me (in my community or anywhere)? I have these questions and probably more. But right now I feel that, although my preparations have probably been inadequate, at least compared to other people, I just want to get started, to get on with the big month of Yom Tovim (festivals) and end the big build up. The waiting is getting too nerve-wracking.
There’s an idea in Judaism that the amount of money a person is going to get in the next year is decided on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). You can’t get more than that whatever you do (unless you give more to charity). I feel like that’s it, that I’ve earnt all my money for 5779 (little though it was); more than that, that I’ve done everything I’m going to do this year, that the next week and a half is just killing time before 5780.
In fact, in shiur (religious class) tonight, the ex-assistant rabbi was saying that not only is one’s life and wealth decided on Rosh Hashanah, one’s ability to concentrate in davening (prayer) and the amount of joy one gets from studying Torah in the next year are decided too. I was slightly suspicious of this, as I hadn’t heard this idea before and it sounds like the kind of “mission creep” one gets in kabbalistic thoughts where someone decides that if X happens, then Y and Z must happen too. Still, his general point is still valid, which is that we should be thinking hard about making ourselves a “good investment” for HaShem (God) in the coming year, to be focused on spiritual goals and using our physical gifts to pursue those spiritual goals so that HaShem will invest money and other positive things in us in the coming year.
That’s scary for me, as I don’t feel that I focus very much on spiritual goals. I don’t think I’m really focused on any goals at all at the moment, I’m just drifting through life, trying to hold on to some flotsam to keep me afloat. I don’t think I’m a good investment for God. This leads to the following thought: if I apparently have not ever been judged for material wealth, kavannah (concentration in prayer), or joy (from Torah study or anything else) for most of my adult life, it seems unlikely that I’ve ever been judged for life either. The fact that I am alive does not prove I’ve been written for real life i.e. spiritual life (one is judged on Rosh Hashanah both for physical life i.e. will I die this year? and for spiritual life i.e. am I on target to go to Heaven when I do die, whatever year that is?). It’s scary stuff, but I don’t know who to talk to about it. I tried to get hold of my rabbi mentor this week, without success. I feel bad about taking up so much of his time anyway.
I was initially reluctant to work on my novel after grinding to a bit of a halt yesterday, but I didn’t want to stop completely, especially as I don’t have any jobs to apply for at the moment. The result was that I spent over an hour reading personal narratives of abuse from survivors on Neshamas.com as research for the latter part of my novel. After a while I had to stop, as it was just too much for me to read.
It’s probably not what I should have been reading today, moodwise, although my mood was a little better afterwards. I still don’t know what to do with the novel, though. I think I have a story worth telling and I want to move forward with it, but there’s something not right at the moment. I went for a walk for half an hour and listened to classical music and toyed with adding characters, changing narrators, but nothing seemed right. I think I may need to drop the first chapter, and the next few planned chapters, completely. They are background, but not essential. I should perhaps pick up the story later on, working out how to weave the key elements from the dropped chapters into later chapters as flashbacks or something similar, as well as expanding the other planned chapters. That’s quite a lot of work. I don’t mind work, I just hope I can do it.
Still procrastinating on an invitation to a vort (engagement party) that was posted on the Thursday night shiur (religious class) WhatsApp group. The vort is for the son of someone who goes to the shiur and he posted the invitation there to invite everyone, but it doesn’t seem very personal and it makes me wonder if he really wants me to be there. I don’t particularly want to go, but I would feel obliged to make some kind of appearance (and give a present) if I was personally invited. This is just weirdly informal. The frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community confuses me like this, really formal and traditional in some ways (e.g. not letting children address adults by their first names, but as Mr X or Mrs X) and really informal in others, particularly things like invitations to simchas (celebrations) as well as present-giving. This is where I struggle with being a ba’al teshuva (someone who became religious late in life) and autistic as I can’t read the social situations very well and turning to my parents is no good as they don’t understand the community (my parents would never invite someone to such a key event so casually and would see a prompt RSVP as essential. They would definitely have sent individual invitations to everyone they wanted to invite, not a group invitation).