Last year, I had an epiphany, of sorts, when it came to prayer:
Things came to a head during the first day of Rosh Hashana. As I labored over every word, I finally set down my machzor and had a little one-on-one discussion with God.
“Listen,” I demanded. “We both know this isn’t fun for me. And I can’t imagine listening to me butcher Your words is any fun for You, either. But we also both know that I’m not going to get better without a little help here. So unless You ENJOY this, You are going to need to step up and help out.”
And that’s when it hit me: I have to stop giving a crap about anyone else.
In that moment, it became abundantly clear that I had to consciously stop being concerned about:
- where other people were in the service. If the leader was already starting up the repetition
- if other people had finished and sat down
- if it felt like every eye in the room was on me because they wanted to move on already…
All of that had to go. I. Don’t. Give. A. Crap.
- The repetition is for the benefit of those who can’t say it on their own. And by the very fact that I’m not done yet, I’m not in that population.
- I’m so sorry other people are tired and want to sit down. I’m still davening.
- I am NOT center of the universe. If they want to go on, they should go on.
Once again: I. Don’t. Give. A. Crap.
Once I let go of that tension, things got easier. I’m not saying, I magically started reading and understanding like a 48 year old yeshiva bocher. What I’m saying is that once I got out of my own way, I was free to take my time. And once I took my time, I was able to improve.