For the first time in seven years (!) I didn't take upon myself a ta'anit dibbur for Yom Kippur (you thought I was going to talk about food deprevation? Ha!).
I have to say, it did not feel the same. While I can be quite chatty in my social time, I often reserve my attention and focus for that particular day. Though it's not like I chatted up anyone during shul or spent hours hanging around with people, it had a very different qualitative feel to it. For one, it can be nice to take a moments' break from all of the confessing, self-humility and imploring forgiveness. A moment of normalcy in a sea of unrest.
But being in the sea of unrest, asking and praying out of that place, finding myself doing so out of choice, care and even -perhaps for a moment -love is tremendously important to me, and I found it harder to achieve this year.
My mind kept drifting off... and I'd find myself thinking about the things I've done, the accomplishments and the failures, the people I have wronged and learning to make amends and of course the many other distractions including hunger and thirst, the tunes that were used by the chazzan (and the ones that were not used), the aching heels of my feet and my favorite past-times or moments of the previous year. So much just kept invading my mind.
I'd find myself absentmindedly twirling the fringes of my talit, or cracking my knuckles, or some other idiosyncratic behavior I tend to do when I fall into thought. After a few times, I started paying attention, and when I found myself twirling or cracking I knew my mind was away from where it should be.
Perhaps -for me, at least -something about focusing only on speaking to The Almighty in Heaven and otherwise keeping my mouth shut opens up a different type of thought, a type of dedication and an avoidance of thinking about the random things that nudge and pull at the recesses of my mind. It probably has to do with the level of awareness required to monitor the words coming out of my mouth.
Or, maybe, I've just been really distracted of late, having a million and one things to do all the time. It could also be that it's been a jam-packed year, and all those thoughts and memories and events -the things I appreciate and the ones I regret alike -were important enough to come up. Maybe, as with Rosh Hashanah, I simply did not take/have the proper time to prepare.
But either way, looking back... this year was different.