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The Bonus of the Year

Chanukah came and went. For years it has been a time of reflection and introspection for me. Of course, there are kids out of school and off schedule. I’m in the kitchen for a lot longer than a regular week. But every night, come candle lighting time, I sit down and pray before the Chanukah candles. Sometimes the prayers come pouring out with tears. Other times it takes longer to think of what to say while trying to drown out the fighting in the background. But our sages say that even simply staring at the candles can bring miracles into your life.

By the end of the week, the menorah was completely lit up with lights. And I was exhausted. I put in my headphones and took out my notebook. From year to year, I keep a few notes on thoughts to pray for on each night of Chanukah. This year I decided to write a note to God, asking for everything I ever wanted, and put it in an envelope to read next year (and see what dreams came true!).

Of course, writing brought out the best in me.

At first, I asked for the big things. That this insidious virus should stop plaguing our communities and thoughts. That we should merit to see world peace in our lifetime. That we should have a temple rebuilt in Jerusalem, covered in shining gold and marble.

But as I wrote, it became more personal. I asked God to help me become the type of mother I want to be, for help for each of my children. The type of wife I dream of becoming, and for help for my husband. I asked for help in writing and creating. And I asked for guidance as I move forward in my career. Because what I do for work isn’t just work. Sometimes I get paid for it, and sometimes I don’t. My job, as I see it, is to contribute. I try my best to help people see who they really are in their essence. I try to facilitate goal setting so they can accomplish a long-held dream.

Just today I stood on the street schmoozing for much longer than expected. A neighbor introduced me to a family member of hers, and we got to talking. Somehow this woman asked me about dreams.

Who really has dreams anyway? She asked.

Isn’t that a childish concept?

Are we allowed to think such a thing as adults?

And even if we did have one, how could we even begin to think about pursuing it with everything else that makes up a life including family and work obligations?

You’re right, I told her. It is a childish concept. And only because children have dreams and then they are beaten out of them.

If you ask a six-year-old what they dream of doing one day, they will be full of ideas. Try asking a 16-year-old. And then a 26-year-old.

Very quickly people adapt to the concept that dreams are something that happen at night while you’re sleeping to be quickly forgotten upon waking.

But. What if? What if we said no, I don’t accept this decree. I want something more from my life.

As a child, someone might dream of being a firefighter. As an adult, that dream may feel unrealistic. But what about being a firefighter lit them up as a little person? Was it the everyday heroism? The hands-on, essential nature of being someone who saves lives? Take that feeling. Think about it. Figure out what it was that lit you up and pursue it.

My new friend on the street felt inspired to think about what her dreams may have been, however long they lay dormant.

So no, I don’t always get paid for my work. But when I can help someone open up their mind to the possibilities, I feel like I got the bonus of the year.

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