Reflections on a New Year

Some of you will just understand the title, for the others let me say that tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the start of the days of awe in the Jewish calendar. It is a time of reflection. A time to think of the year past and how one might lead a better life.

The days close with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. We ask God for forgiveness for our sins against God and declare that we’ve forgiven others for any they’ve declared against us.

What do we mean a better life? We hope first to be written for a “good” year. What does that mean? If you’re one of those whose basic needs of food, water and shelter aren’t being met then those are not only a better life, they are survival. Let’s assume you have four  walls and enough food to abate your hunger.

A better life might mean people who love you and care about you. People are social and being cut off is right up their with food and water. Many trans people lose their communities and the best thing we can do is reestablish ourselves with new friends and salvage what we can of the old.

Yet a better life for everyone should include paying more attention to the needs of others too. In my father’s childhood, every family, no matter how poor had a blue tzedakah (charity) box that they would put spare change into. Giving to the people less fortunate is a good object lesson and it distracts us from the temptation of self pity when things are going poorly.

Me? I look back at four years of building. Each year has gotten a bit better. 2014 started the big change and last year with SRS ended the big physical changes. For me, this year feels like the year I start only being Rachel.

I hope this year is that kind of a year for many of you. We should be ourselves and not our ailments. Susan, not Susan with RA, John, not John with chronic asthma, Jen, not Jen with depression. Be you.

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