Why am I like this? Time is real freedom

 

Why  am I like this?”

I ask myself this question as I sit at my desk at 3:38 AM struggling to finish a paper which I had nearly a month to do.

 

“Why am I like  this?”

I ask myself this question as I continue to find excuses to stay in bed instead of go out with friends.

 

“Why am I  like this?”

I ask myself this question as I get overwhelmed from bottling up my emotions.

 

Although I hate to admit it, the situations above happen to me way too often. However, I have come to realize that the biggest answer to my problems is found within myself.

“Why am I like this?”

Is a question with a very simple answer. I am like this because that’s just who I am: Macayla Gritz. Someone who sometimes procrastinates and sometimes can’t bear to be around people.

 

After I learned to accept myself and who I am, I became in control of who I wanted to become. I realized that I am the only person in control of my life and each moment that passes me by is a moment wasted. Our lives are defined by how we use our time. So what truly defines me?

 

 

The moments when I do something incredibly amazing or incredibly ordinary define who I am. I am someone who gives of my time to Jewish Organizations, who visits the local nursing home by my house, and who paints stunning portraits. I am someone who takes a lot of naps and I am someone who turns papers in late.

 

Time is something we all take for granted. Few of us realize how much, or how little, we actually have. But how we use it is so crucial to who we are.

 

Time as the first Mitzvah

Time is so important that it fundamental to  the first mitzvah the Jewish people received, Rosh Chodesh (or calculating time according to a lunar calendar). The obvious question is why make our own calendar? We were living under the Egyptian rule where other time cycles were already being used. 

 

Rosh Chodesh, however, teaches us an important lesson. A lesson that the Jewish people in exodus needed the most… how to control our own time and how to control our own lives. Using time, Hashem helped Bnei Yisrael separate from the Egyptian culture and turn into their own nation.

 

Egypt was a place of impurity, pain, anguish and destruction. The Arizal explains that after the last firstborn had died, the Jews left in a hurry because if they had left only few moments later, the entire Jewish nation would have disappeared. The Jews had been in slavery for 210 years, so what would an extra moment do? Slavery had ended already, so how could more moment have destroyed us? The answer is that in that moment Egyptian impurity would have assimilated the nation and the Jews would not have been able to begin their exodus. Those short moments of time defined the Jewish people, allowing us to become our own unique nation: a nation of quick action and of utilizing every moment of our lives. Leaving Egypt and the story of Pesach is the epitome of what the Jewish people stand for: zerizus, alacrity.

 

Slavery Today

Today, the biggest threat to the Jewish people is not the Egyptians or slavery, it is ourselves. Assimilation has caused nearly as much destruction as the Holocaust. We might be free in modern times, but we are becoming slaves to our society. We are losing control of who we really are and choosing to take a backseat to our own lives. Instead of spending our time effectively, many of us choose to scroll through instagram or snapchat. We are a generation enslaved by our iPhones and what is “socially” acceptable.  

 

I, like many others, have become a slave to my iPhone. While I should be studying or spending quality time with family or friends, I sit and stare a tiny screen in front of me and live in a reality that isn’t all so real. However, very few of us realize how astronomical the effects of this really are.

 

A Harvard study shows that in our current society people spend 46.9% of the time they are conscious thinking about something other than what they’re doing. The study quotes, “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.” Having a wandering mind and therefore staying stagnant in life is linked to depression and other negative effects on mental health.

 

A remedy to this is can be found within the Jewish people’s inception

Just like the Arizal explained, our foundation was built on using our time effectively through zerizus (i.e. leaving Egypt in a hurry and the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh). Keeping busy and filling your time with meaningful acts can be good not only for your productivity, but for your mental health as well. Mindfulness in your daily lives can enormously impact how you view life, placing you back into a reality that is real, not one masked by society and social media.

 

By doing this we can choose to define ourselves by our freedom, not by our slavery. We are people in control of our own time and our own lives, people who stop to smell the roses, and people who take time to give to others. We are a people who take time to give to ourselves.

 

A timeless identity

What sets the Jewish people aside from the rest of the world is our unique identity. An identity formulated around how we spend our time. Similarly, finding your own niche and following what you’re passionate about can ensure your survival as well. Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests, whatever they may be. But remember, within your busy schedule take some time out for your own sake to focus on your own well-being. When dealing with something stressful or upsetting, time can be the greatest gift of all. Personally, I know it would be in my best interest to take some more time for myself.  But that is exactly what makes me me! Although it’s not ideal to write a paper in the middle of the night, that’s just how I work best. Similar to Bnei Yisrael following a lunar calendar, these unconventional ways to use time are what makes us all individually unique. Take time into your own hands and remember to use it wisely because that is what truly defines who you are.

 

What advice do you have for how to use time wisely? Is there anything that is more important than your time?

Macayla Gritz

Macayla Gritz

Macayla Gritz was born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida. She is graduating high school this May from Donna Klein Jewish Academy to spend a year abroad in Israel followed by college at Stern College for Women. Her newfound love for Judaism and passion for kiruv was found through her involvement in NCSY and she currently serves as the Southern NCSY Regional President.
Macayla Gritz

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