#BlogElul 2: Act
Ooooh, tricky, Rabbi Sommer! First Do, then Act? Aren’t they the same thing? Clearly she doesn’t think so. Obviously something I need to think about, too.
So how is acting different from doing? That’s got to be pretty subtle. So of course I turned to the wise and all-knowing Rabbi Google to help me figure it out. Here’s some of what I found.
1. perform (an action, the precise nature of which is often unspecified). “something must be done about the city’s traffic”
synonyms: carry out, undertake, discharge, execute, perform, accomplish, achieve.
1. take action; do something. “they urged Washington to act”
synonyms: take action, take steps, take measures, move, react.
There was a lot more to both definitions, but let’s see what we can do with these. To act is to do something. It feels more purposeful, somehow.
Yesterday I talked about how Elul is filled with doing for me, and I hadn’t even mentioned that the kids go back to school next week! My eldest is starting university on the same day that his siblings start Grade 10 and Grade 7, respectively, so we are all full of excitement and new beginnings. No more elementary school for us, as we all move into a new phase of independence. Learning the way around a new building, new responsibilities and new freedoms.
All of these exciting times come with many opportunities for action, and it will be up to each of us to choose wisely. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by busyness, and to miss the action that counts.
So what is the action that counts? That’s the hard question, isn’t it?
Obviously every person is going to have a different answer to that hard question, but for many people, I think the action that counts has to do with being helpful to others. There just seems to be something uniquely satisfying about that. Must be all that tribal stuff we evolved with. When we act with purpose, especially when that purpose is larger than ourselves and involves helping other people or the world in general, we find that we are helping ourselves just as much.
To quote the tagline from one of my favourite podcasters, Michael Hyatt, your life is a gift. Now go make it count.