The Risk to Grow

personal growth

A new year is born and with it so many hopes and dreams. So many resolutions, made as the clock struck midnight, are probably on their way to be delayed. Yet, the new year does inspire thoughts of change and growth and moving forward. The issue, for many Boomers, of course, is that to follow our heart may mean dealing with so many consequences and issues that it is easier to celebrate the status quo.

If we are given the gift of time, we face significant challenges as to how best to use that time. As we get older all of us have become more keenly aware that time is speeding up and, as we observe friends and family situations, we are more aware as well that we have less time than ever before. For many of us that is a daunting reality. For the fortunate few, that reality is the spark that allows them to move forward. Growth and change involve risk. The consequences of that risk grow as we age. But, to fail to move forward allows for stagnation of the soul, which can lead to real illness of both body and spirit.

In my tradition, I am fond of looking at the passage from Genesis 12 that calls on Abraham to “go forth” from his native land. He is called to leave his comfort level and have the faith in himself and his God, to move into a future that he does not know. I often teach this passage to Boomers as a proof text to continue to evolve and grow, no matter what our age. Yes, that may involve risk and that risk may involve fear; but, life is too short to live in the land of “if only”, or “I should have” or “I could have”! Allowing one’s self to continue to “live” is healthy and celebrates the life we have.

There is a wonderful image for this challenge. Rabbi Harold Schulweis, in his book “In God’s Mirror” has a poem called “Holding On and Letting Go”. He calls to mind the image of the trapeze artist who moves from one bar to the next, letting go and having the faith that the next bar will swing his way so he can grab it”. Much of our life is like that, we let go of one stage and have the faith that our next stage will be there for us. We have the faith that all will be there.

The new year is a symbol of new beginnings. We can, each of us, make the determination to try something new, to do something that we have always wanted to do. In doing so, in moving forward with our own life, we can continue to appreciate and celebrate the gift that is our own existence.

Have a sweet and healthy 2017.

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About Richard Address

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min is the founder and editor of He is the author of “Seekers of Meaning: Baby Boomers, Judaism and the Pursuit of Healthy Aging”. Rabbi Address developed the programs in family issues for the North American Reform Jewish movement and currently serves as a rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, N.J. He hosts the weekly “Boomer Generation Radio” in Philadelphia

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