On the very last day of our vacation this summer, I made a short but important stop. While it might sound trivial to you, it was very important to me. The same stop last year had in some ways changed my life and set me on a path of transformation and renewal.
Exactly one year earlier, as I was about to head back home from our vacation and dive into yet another year of the hustle and bustle of life, I had stopped at the scale in my parents’ summer home to check in for an honest assessment of the state of my weight challenges.
The number that flashed on the screen was one that I had never before seen associated with my name. I was extremely disappointed. There were many times before that I wasn’t pleased with the scale’s findings, yet this measurement was off the charts.
Right then and there, even before stepping off the scale, I made a firm resolution. The next year would be totally different. I would finally make the changes needed to improve my situation and become the slim person I wanted to be.
By the time I returned next summer, the scale wouldn’t even recognize me.
Here I was 12 months later, stepping back onto the Catskills scale for a blunt review of my year’s efforts and progress.
I closed my eyes for a moment, then I peeked. The number was lower than last year, and for that I was delighted. Yet it was still a far cry from where I needed and had hoped to be.
I closed my eyes once more and tried to understand where I had gone wrong and why I wasn’t able to reach my original goal. After all, I was so inspired and motivated when I first set out with my lofty ambitions and had invested many efforts toward reaching my target number.
The next few minutes were spent in a meditative state, reviewing my eating habits and experiences from the past year.
There were moments I was proud of and others when I wished I had acted differently. Times that I had been wise and those when I had been foolish. Occasions when I had been careful and acted with self-control, yet others when I had slipped.
There were good decisions and bad ones, smart moments and others that demonstrated a lapse in judgment. There were cravings that were justifiably satisfied and other indulgences that should have been skipped.
The numbers were now in, and while I was somewhat pleased with the results, I had no one to blame other than myself for the less-than-perfect outcome.
I resolved once more to be much more careful in the coming year and set my sights on a personal goal that I know I can reach if only I stay focused and strong.
As I slowly walked off the scale, I couldn’t help but think about the irony of going back to Alpharetta to start preparing myself for the coming High Holidays, when we all step onto the ultimate scale for the annual and honest review of our behaviors and actions in the past year — when we get to see where we stand with regard to the most important areas of our lives.
I resolve to work on being a much better person and committed Jew in the coming year.
Rabbi Hirshy Minkowicz is the director of Chabad of North Fulton (www.chabadnf.org).