Last week I joined some of my fabulous classmates from Pardes on our second tiyyul (trip) of the year, where we visited the far south of Israel, about 15 minutes from Eilat, and enjoying sunny weather in the middle of most people’s winter while hiking around the area each day.
However, when I returned home I was jolted back to reality awfully quickly. The stress of having my future truly undecided was compounded by the pile-up of the various electronic reminders I had received while away to continue the search for something meaningful to occupy my time next year, preparing for a new semester at Pardes, and generally interesting thoughts that had been shared while I was hiking.
I decided that I was looking at the life I am lucky enough to live the wrong way. Instead of sinking into the cesspool of stress and being overwhelmed with the choices that I have to make, I ought to be really enjoying the journey, and not focusing on the goal (or even believing there is one). The beauty in life is astounding, as was evidenced while we hiked, but is so often dwarfed by pain and sorrow, which are also not hard to come by. No on can or will solve all the world’s problems, but that is not cause for despair, as Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) says: “lo alecha kol ha’melacha ligmor, v’lo atah ben chorin leebatel” (2:19), meaning “You are not expected to complete all of the work, but you are also not free to excuse yourself” (translation mine). And so we should all be just a little more cognizant, taking time out of our days — every day — to appreciate the blessings. Help others, teach, and smile. There is no objective rat race: people create it.