Summer tastes like peach Snapple, ice coffee, and cold Coca Cola with one thousand ice cubes. It sounds like waves rushing up against the sand and the cheers of school aged children who shout as though they have been set free. Summer smells like sunscreen, the dust from air conditioners, and like the music of an ice cream truck. It begins with the cheesecake of Shavuos and ends with the honey on Rosh Hashana. Summer feels like the warm sun beating down like a fire and a cool breeze that provides relief.
Summer feels like a break, an escape, a change. The end of one thing and the beginning of another. A time to move on. But it is not only in the summer that things change. Life is full of changes, and the start of each season is just a reminder. Change can be exciting or nerve-wracking, or both. Sometimes change sneaks up on when you don't expect it, suddenly coming at you like a baseball flying 90 miles an hour. You see it coming seconds before you have to react and figure out what to do with it and how to adapt. Sometimes you cause the change yourself. You make a choice, a decision, to step off the path you've been going down and veer slightly in a different direction. In those cases you'd think you'd be much more prepared. I mean, you have had time to think about what to do when it comes. You should be prepared. So why is it just as hard?
We, human beings, get used to things so quickly. We don’t like to change. My favorite example is how the seat you choose on the first day of class is the one you will sit in the rest of the year. The second day of class some people will move around, but that is your only chance, because on the second day of class most people will sit in the exact same spot they sat in the first day of class. So you had better watch out because you might be taking someone’s spot.
Change brings risk. What if things are not as good when they change? Maybe things are bad now, but at least we are in comfortable, safe territory. Why travel into the unknown? It is a wonder that we ever change. But yet, despite our unwillingness, we can awaken the spirit of change within ourselves. Our hope that things will be better carries us through. Our sense of adventure and our desire for something new and fresh takes over us.
At some point we all thought this unusually cold and snowy NY winter would never end, but spring briefly visited, and now it is so hot that a person can begin longing for those bitter cold days. Or at least for the spring. But we have to hold on to every minute of it because soon enough the leaves will slowly turn those pleasant autumn colors, and the next season will sneak up on us before we know it.
As I taste the flavor of my iced coffee and feel the heat on my skin, I take a deep breath and think about where my life is going and where I want it to go. I think about the choices I have and the changes ahead. And I pray for the clarity to pick the right path and the strength to make the changes that I should make, and the courage to face all of changes in my life- the good ones, the not as good ones, and the small ones, the ones I hope for, the ones that happen suddenly, and the ones for which I have long been prepared.