This is the most holy day of the Jewish year, the one on which G-d agian closes the Book of Life, in which the names of those chosen to survive the next year have been being entered since Rosh Hashano, the Jewish New Year, 10 days ago.
Some of us, of course, don't take this literally, but it's powerful as a metaphor.
Before Rosh Hashano, we are admonished to pay our debts, to ask forgiveness of and make amends to those we've wronged, and to forgive those who've wronged us.
Then we rejoice in the New Year, in being alive and with our friends and family in this lovely world G-d has provided for us to enjoy aqs well as improve.
Rosh Hashano is the start and Yom Kippur the end of the Days of Awe, a time for reflection as well as rejoicing, a time to consider our lives and how we are using them.
A couple of basic Jewish principles are involved here.
First is Tikkun Olam, the responsibility of leaving the world a better place than we found it.
Of course this is on a personal level, but it's also political - working to reverse, or at least stop, climate change/global warming; standing up against hatred, prejudice, and opression wherever they rear their ugly heads (yes, even in Israel, but not only there); advocating for everyone's right to be safe, sheltered, fed, and cared for, etc., etc.
Second is Tzedaka, generally interpreted as charity, but actually meaning justice.
I see this as intertwined with Tikkun Olam--it mandates sharing what we have with those who have less. It doesn't mean starving our own family to feed our neighbors (that would be the worst sort of personal aggrandizement), but it does mean feeding as many people as we can, providing shelter for those who need it (could we solve the problem of homelessness if every household with an empty bedroom invited someone to use it?), contributing to good causes, and sharing whatever resources and possessions we have more of than we need (not to be confused with want).
I'm probably missing something official, but I find that those two give me quite a bit to strive for.
So on this Yom Kippur, as is my custom, I am giving serious thought to what I can do to make next year better for myself, my family, my friends, and the rest of the world.
For quite a few years, one of my major goals has been to cultivate patience. I think I'm making some progress on this as I get older, and 2 years of living in China really helped. Patience encompasses accepting that some things won't happen when or as I want them to, or sometimes at all, but in their own good time if they're meant to be.
This applies to everything from artwork that is not ready to be finished, to dealing with ignorance and prejudice without personal acrimony, to encouraging my children to mature on their own timetalbe.
Lately, as I develop more physical limitiations, I need to consider ways to continue to be as independent as possible.
One of these, which I've been avoiding, is to have my knees (I'm hoping for both at once) replaced.
This should improve my ability to dirve as well as walk, and make it easier to participate more fully in a wider community and in various areas of life, while reducing the help I need from family and friends to do even basic tasks. I'll have to figure something else out for lifting, however--another item for consideration.
Following this thread, I want to be more available to my children and grandchildren, especially the youngest 3, of whom 2 are expected to arrive in the next few months. I want to be able to spend time with them, provide care if necessary, and generally be part of their lives more frequently than is now possible. I want to do everything I can to maintain and improve my health, and encourage Seth to do the same, so that we will continue to be participants in our familiy's lives.
I also need to be more attentive and available to the older members of my family, using and treasuring the time we can still have together.
I hope to travel more. Not only is it a pleasure, it helps me to better understand what's happening in other places and what, if anything, I can or need to do about it. Not to mention that warmer dryer climates, especially in winter, improve both our health and our world view, especially after we haven't seen the sun for weeks.
This year I'm also feeling a need for more balance. My online supply shop is doing well, but is also taking a lot of my time and energy, some of which I need for my own work, some for my family and the rest of my life. That partially comes under patience, but also under meeting my own needs and being able to resist distractions and say no when necessary. This is a difficlt issue for most of us, but we need to realize that, if our own needs aren't met, we don't have anything left over for other people or the wider world.
I'm sure there's more, but that seems like a tall enough order with which to begin another year.
May you all be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life, and have a sweet and fruitful year.