Written by Sharona Kaplan, Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at UCLA
“So, what are you doing next year?!” A simple, yet potentially dreaded question for so many graduates who have yet to concretize their future plans. Silently detracting from the joy of graduation is the anxiety of the unknown, a path that has yet to be determined. Surrounded by those who seem to have it “all worked out,” it’s easy to fall prey to the delusion that achievement is only realized when the penultimate goal is accomplished, creating an “all or nothing” mentality that can limit happiness and compromise worthy celebrations.
Yet, honestly, is any significant accomplishment ever achieved in one fell swoop? In Psalms (127:4) King David writes “Youth is like an arrow in the hand of a warrior,” comparing the early stages of an individual’s development to an arrow before it is released. What is particularly poignant about this comparison is the focus placed on the process of calibrating an arrow’s trajectory. Every small adjustment or tiny tweak to the arrow before its release dramatically redefines its path and affects the ultimate destination. Every centimeter of focus in the planning stages leverages results and is, therefore, noteworthy and impactful.
The message is encouraging and real. Achievement does not result from one bold move, but is rather a long flight punctuated by seemingly tiny decisions, small accomplishments and subtle efforts that combine to produce dramatic results. The pursuit of spirituality and personal success can’t be evaluated by an instantaneous benchmark of success but rather every overture and effort — both large and small —deserves to be celebrated because the cumulative impact is immense.
As we conclude the academic year of ה’תשעה (or 5775 / 2014-2015), whose root, שעה, means to turn, let’s collectively celebrate, and be empowered by, all of the individual tweaks, turns and efforts made throughout the year that will, no doubt, recalibrate our trajectories and positively redefine our ultimate destinations.
This article is part of Ha’Am’s Friday Taste of Torah column. Each week, a different UCLA community member will contribute some words of Jewish wisdom in preparation for Shabbat.