When I was younger, I thought sports was my religion. I played it obsessively and watched it on TV and in-person. I read about it in newspapers, magazines and books. I was good at playing and very knowledgeable about it too. I love baseball and enjoy football. If the Knicks are good, I watch (so not so much). It seems like everything in life can be explained through sports – the challenges, tension, joy of victory, agony of defeat – There are so many analogies between sports and religion – both require faith; both have us rooting for a specific team; stadiums and arenas are temples; sports has rules, ethical dilemmas, and history, just like religion; and each one requires participants to be passionate, even blindly.
But I know that sports and religion are two very different things. However, as I hit middle-age, books are now my religion. I believe books represent people and the human condition, and collectively, we are all one force. There is no substitute for God, but books provide nourishment for the soul, teach us values, spread love, and make us feel better. If religion is about being good, serving community, and living in harmony, books sure do come close to providing all of that.
As the Jewish Holidays are upon two to two-and-a-half percent of America, it is causing me to reflect on the past year and to look towards a fresh start. I don’t need to wait until January 1 to rally around life. The truth is, we don’t have to wait for any holiday or invitation to put our lives and values under a microscope, and to take stock of where we have been. Today – or any day – can be the one where you change to make changes, improvements, and commitments to a better life.
It isn’t easy to make changes, especially if they are forced upon us – or worse, if we don’t realize a change is due, especially when a new opportunity exists for us.
This past year has probably yielded the most change to the most number of Americans since World War II. Huge numbers of people lost their jobs and businesses, while countless others suffered pay cuts and losses in profits. Trillions in wealth were simply wiped out. Millions were sick from a mysterious disease and hundreds of thousands have died from it. Add on to that the violence from race riots and huge increases in crime. There is blood in the streets, pain at home, and worry about the future. We all have to relearn how to work and go to school – and how to live. We don’t even know what to do with downtime when there is no where to go, nothing to do.
Human relationships suffered a heavy blow, as some of us have not hugged or kissed those we would normally embrace. We have not traveled far nor visited some of our friends and relatives for fear of sickening them or ourselves. It has been a year of isolation, trauma, and loss.
So the new year of my religion is now. Is it time to celebrate and to plan ahead? Is their an urge to rejoice in our hearts? I can’t even attend services at my temple. I long for a return to community.
But, like all years past, including ones of job loss, the death of a loved one, divorce, or other setbacks, I will celebrate life. I have a ticket to live and that can’t be minimized and dismissed. Setbacks, losses, tragedies, and even horrible events – as bad as they are – cannot, will not, and must never stand in the way of pursuing the precious good in the world. There’s a lot of love, fun, and beauty to be experienced, at any age or stage. We must never let the past define us, or make losses any greater than they have to be. Embrace optimism, opportunity, and the wonders of life that await you.
It is hard to see beyond the smoke of a fire burning your house. It’s difficult to breathe when you are drowning from a storm’s devastation. It is nearly impossible to hear beyond the ambulance siren of injury, sickness, or death. But we will come through it. We must.
Sometimes the game plan is simply survival. Get to the next day. Build up your strength. Meet new people. Treasure life but hope and reach out for more. Get lucky by putting yourself into situations that can lead to good things. Life goes on and things will get better.
The Jews around the world celebrate the year 5781. If they can survive millennia of persecution and prosecutions, we can get beyond today’s state of affairs. Pogroms, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust in Europe. Slavery in Egypt. Anti-Semitism globally. In more than one era or nation, Jews have been jailed, beaten, killed, and vilified. If they can find hope in tomorrow and seek out happiness today, we all can follow their lead.
Happy New Year.
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the product of his genius. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.
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