As I drove to work this morning, amid slow-moving traffic and bright tail-lights, I pondered this rat race rush to get to work and start our days. Were most of the drivers in those cars eager to arrive to their offices? Were they heading to work to make the world better, elevate their consciousness and ours?
Or were they driving to work in a trudge mindset, just getting there because they had to, to collect a paycheck to pay their bills? Because working is an adult obligation, a necessity, to make our lives possible?
Pretty damp thoughts for a Monday morning. I drove along in the same traffic, eager to get to my office after a weekend of Chanukah starting and the flu ending in my house and three clients on TV, and two newspaper articles. I’ve done my job well, so why would I ponder the meaning of it all?
Most of the time I believe that I’m working toward a higher purpose. I am lucky enough to choose my clients according to the fit and synchronicity and I pick clients who are indeed making a difference in the world, people I am inspired to promote.
But I’m not saving lives. I’m not at a dying man’s bedside. I’m not curing the common cold.
Most people don’t sit and ponder the meaning of what we do and why we do it all day long. Thank God for that. It’s a burden and a gift to wonder these things and reach for the depths and the heights. But that’s me, that’s who I am, and it’s got to mean that I’m on a path toward a purpose.
The other day my 10-year-old son commented in his snarky tween wisdom about the excess of consumerism at this time of year. True, true, true. We buy because the season spurs us on, whether or not we need to. Whether or not we can afford to.
Supreme excess and for what purpose? Gifts and things come and go and I can attest that in my house, many gifts of years past sit in corners of bedrooms or the family room unnoticed.
On Saturday at synagogue, both rabbis mentioned how Chanukah comes at the darkest time of the year for the reason that we are to notice the metaphor of bringing light into the darkness. Light being wisdom, awareness, intelligence, knowing.
Darkness of course representing the debaseness of the attackers in the Chanukah story, those who tried to wipe out the Jewish people, eradicate our peoplehood and our learning and our knowing.
The miracle was that a tiny bit of oil burned for longer than the anticipated day. Follow the metaphor: the light burned bright and long, amid great darkness and destruction.
The light always wins.
So the question becomes, are we going to work in heavy traffic to bring light into the world or are we plodding along in early morning darkness, only to get stuck behind the bright tail-lights of someone else?
That was too easy, wasn’t it? It may be an easy contrast to draw, but I’m willing to bet it’s not an easy question to answer.