“September is the hardest month of the year,” my high school pal texted me this weekend. “Why is that?”
September, which luckily is almost over, reminds us of days gone by. This time of year, as the leaves fall and the evenings get crisper (if you don’t live in Los Angeles), is a natural period of reflection. The season is changing, the carefree days of summer are behind us, and we must gear up for another winter, another year.
I told my friend that September used to be the Back to School month, until they moved it up to August. We used to go to the mall with our mothers to buy new clothes, boots, jumpers, whatever was in style that fall. We stocked up on wide-ruled notebook paper, and awesome folders and backpacks.
What is the adult equivalent of buying a new backpack?
It was so easy to reinvent ourselves with a new school year. We didn’t have to do much; the several inches we’d grown (in a few directions) was usually enough to make us feel different, and older, and closer to … some goal. Shall I buy a silver messenger bag, a plain black Jansport to decorate, or a totebag, a non-backpack altogether?
These days, the seasons change, but more remains the same. We don’t move every year like in college; we don’t dedicate an entire year to “study abroad.” We just are. We just live.
I told my friend, who is an Atheist, that September reflection is why we Jewish people celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If we are in the mood to assess the year that was, and look at the year that is about to start, we might as well make it official. Put on a nice outfit and celebrate being with your family for another year.
It’s difficult to find meaningful change in young adulthood. Besides a new haircut, a new apartment, or a new boyfriend, how can we viscerally experience and mark the passage of time in a way that celebrates who we are and who we are becoming?
I’m headed to temple tonight, and under the echoing call of the shofar, I will close my eyes and feel the spirit of the season.