Rosh Hashanah is quickly approaching, and it’s an important time to think about our lives: what’s real and what isn’t, and how do we portray ourselves in terms of the fake faces that we so beautifully model for the outside world as well as the real faces that reflect what’s actually going on inside each of us.
My father used to half-jokingly say:
If everyone has (at least) two faces, then why in the world would s/he choose to wear that one?
Yes, it’s funny, but there is lots of truth to it. I heard one person say recently that they were tired of their fake Facebook posts where everything looks oh so perfect even when it isn’t. The person then suddenly went from happy, smiling, and laughing to a very deep weeping over a horrible tragedy going on in their lives that none of us had prior known about.
In a sense, we all live at least two lives–represented by the two faces we wear: The first is the happy face, where we portray ourselves as if everything is going so well, almost near-perfect in our lives (our vacations, accomplishments, celebrations, and so on), and this is the face that we routinely show to the world. Then, there is the second face, which is essentially where everything is not (always) quite so rosy, where life’s challenges, troubles, and hardships take their tangible toll, and this is the face that we learn to keep private and regularly hide from the world.
Usually, it comes down to a rationale that goes something like this: just imagine what would people think of us if they really knew us for who we are and what we were actually going through? Yet the funny thing is that everyone is going through something–that’s life!
And so the truth of the matter is, as my father used to say:
We all have our baskets in life, and you wouldn’t want to change baskets with anybody else.
My oldest daughter says it this way:
G-d gives us all exactly what we need in life.
Someone else’s life basket would do you no good for what you need to be doing and improving on in your life. Each of us has our own paths and things we need to work on to try to “perfect” our souls, and G-d provides the challenges and opportunities to help us in our unique life journey.
In a couple of weeks, when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we come knowing that there is no mask to be worn in front of our Maker, and truly, we are naked before Him in all our thoughts and deeds. We can’t pretend anymore that our lives or ourselves are perfect, but rather this is the time for true and earnest reflection, repentance, as well as judgment for the New Year based on what each of us is really all about.
May each of us have the courage and conviction to face our real selves, to learn, grow, improve, and ultimately to self-actualize, and may we receive G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy and healthy New Year!