Five in the morning, again.
There was a period of oh, at least five years, when every New Year’s Day found me at five in the morning sitting at a certain table in the corner of a certain bar in Tel Aviv.
Two of those years I’d spent New Year’s Eve working behind the bar there. So I probably wasn’t sitting there for long.
Taking a rest before we’d have to kick out the last of the revelers and pool players to mop the floors, count the money and close up.
Two of those years I’d spent New Year’s Eve working behind a different bar, and then heading back over after closing. To recover. To complain about the tips. To see friends and lend a hand if necessary.
And one year I’m really not sure how I ended up there except where else would I end up? It was home.
It doesn’t matter. Say New Year’s Day and I’m sitting at that table in a corner again, rolling a cigarette. A glass of whiskey on the table. Morning approaching.
Hey, tradition is tradition.
I only ever had one wish back then and that was to finally be able to save enough money to get the hell out of Israel and move to Berlin.
And if anyone at the bar was misguided enough to ask me what my resolution for Sylvester was, I’d tell them that it would be to not be sitting at this damn table in the corner next year at five in the morning on New Year’s for once.
Every single year.
All I wanted from the New Year was to not be where I was for the next one.
But of course the truth was that I also loved New Year’s morning at my bar. It was familiar and comfortable and I was surrounded by people who adored me.
And I’d always joke that sitting at that table in the corner at five in the morning pining for Berlin had become such an important tradition in my life that it definitely wasn’t going to stop.
In fact, I’d smirk, after I move to Berlin I plan to leave Berlin and fly back to Tel Aviv once a year for New Year’s … so that I can sit at this table in the corner and bitch about how I wish I were in Berlin already.
After all, it’s a tradition.
But I didn’t go back.
This year I was also up at five in the morning on New Year’s Day. But not at that table in the corner.
I woke up at five and went to meditate, like I do every day. Because it’s what I do every day. Because it nourishes me and holds me. Because it’s tradition.
And then I opened my computer and started writing. Like I do every day. Because it’s my sanctuary. And because it’s tradition.
My new traditions do not in any way negate the old ones. For the record.
I’m smiling right now, thinking about that table in the corner. Not because hey, I’m not there anymore but because it’s a happy memory. I’m feeling fondness towards the whole scene actually.
My black, black humor which sustained me through so much hard. The people I loved. The place which was always there for me, where I was always welcome.
I would have been astonished then if you’d told me that I’d manage to quit smoking, that I’d make plenty of money and always have enough, that at some point I wouldn’t be upset, hurt and angry about nearly so many things.
But I would also have been overjoyed to know that this new way of doing things would be grounded in tradition, ritual, playfulness and a sharp sense of humor.
Time. It’s the sweetest thing you can give yourself.
Before I left Tel Aviv and finally moved to Berlin, I’d been studying with this spiritual teacher.
One day in class one of the women in our group was speaking bitterly about how much she was struggling with a particular pattern, and how the new habit wasn’t taking root, and how nothing was ever going to change.
And my teacher said something like “Oh my dear, you’ve been carrying this pattern with you for what, thirty years? You’ve been working on it with these new methods for a few weeks? You’re allowed to have it for another day or two. It might need a little time.”
I remember thinking … I can give myself time?
I can forgive myself for not having fixed it yet? I can still have this horrible, embarrassing habit for another couple days or another couple weeks and it’s okay because I’m working on it and actively involved in the process?
It was the same thing my yoga teacher was also always saying. And of course the same thing I said to my own students.
But I got it. I was allowed to take my time. To give myself as long as it was going to take. And to give that time to myself with love and patience and understanding.
As it happens, not long after that I was a non-smoker. And living in Berlin.
I’m not going to end this.
One of the things I’m trying (well, hoping) to transmit to everyone taking the Screw Therapy Start Blogging course is that not everything needs to gets tied up at the end.
That you really don’t always have to have one specific point. Or any point.
That you don’t always have to hammer in some sort of big Important Lesson. Or ask a Provocative Question to get people talking. Or wrap things up for them in a neat little series of bullet points.
That people are going to get from it what they need to get from it anyway. And most of the time it’s not the thing you think you’re giving. Sometimes not even close.
But I am going to make a wish.
Well, call it a blessing for the New Year. Or if that’s too cheesy/annoying, call it my sincere hope for you (and for me). Who knows, maybe it will become a tradition.
Whatever patterns and habits you’ve taken with you into the new year, whatever you’re still working on … I’m not impressed by the fact that these patterns and habits are still there.
I don’t think they say anything bad about you. Not at all. You’re a real live human being working on your stuff, just like the rest of us.
It’s always easier for someone not right there in the hard to give you time and to be able to trust in the process and all that stuff. To remind you that giving yourself permission to be where you are beats the hell out of wishing you weren’t.
So I’m wishing for you the ability to remember that you have as much time as you need, that no one is judging you but yourself … and that we’re all here with you working on the same things, each of us in our own way.
And if I can remember this slightly more often this year too … oh, that would be awesome.
Happy day, guys. See you tomorrow.