Boy did I mess up.
We were all gathered, celebrating my friends’ ordination. My friends were finally becoming rabbis! Families were in town from all around the world, friends gathered from near and far – and I had been asked to lead Havdalah. My friend spoke, we had a sweet moment, I introduced the ceremony – offered a little Torah to take us out of the Shabbos as I blessed our friends…and then it happened.
My husband explains the situation as if I had fallen down a long ….long…long stair way, where somewhere towards the top I trip, and no matter how many times I try to stand up, I am perpetually thrown down the stairs (just imagine his sound effects here….) and there is nothing I can do until I finally crash and burn at the very freakin’ bottom. OUCH!
The Havdalah ceremony is something we look forward to in our home every week. I always have the guitar out, experimenting with melodies and we enjoy taking our time through the ritual. But last night, oh Lord. Basically, I had the words to the service on a card my friend held…I had the chords posted on my guitar…and I completely lost my spot on the words. Every time I tried to find where we were, my guitar chords were off, and I could not, for the FREAKING life of me, get back on tune, melody or rhythm. It was awful, painful and a complete and total train wreck. No one could even help on the words because I had butchered everything so horribly. Don’t worry, I continued to the very end…this girl was committed!
As soon as that part was over…all I could do was look up at everyone and announce: AND NOW WE LAUGH! (And WE ALL DID!)
Without a hitch (THANK GOD!) I switched to the Debbie Friedman melody that we all know and love, bringing the ceremony out with life, harmony and celebration. All was well — and some of us will never forget it.
As I turned to my friends for a needed hug – I looked at them and reassured them as they begin their careers out in the world as rabbis…That if they ever trip on their way to up the Bima (or whatever)…all they need to do is remember this very moment, and they’ll be just fine! I also let any one know that if they would like that version of Havdalah, I would be happy to share the chords with them!
It was a strange and beautiful blessing. I do not remember messing up in front of an audience like that in quite a long time. The strange part was how good it felt. I almost enjoyed watching myself make a complete fool of myself…. and then being able to immediately laugh at my mistake – and invited others to join me.
We can live so much of our lives directed at perfection. Always having to say the right words, look the part, make sense, be on time, do great at everything…. so much pressure to perform well – and to everybody else’s standards. Not to mention, pass our own “how did I do” exam on ourselves – which we grade WAY too harshly.
Last night’s experience was so humbling and such a powerful reminder that not taking ourselves too seriously can be such a gateway to inner happiness.
I have no shame in what happened last night. I’ve been laughing about it all day! And the best part is, my friends are grateful to have been a witness to it as well. It was a perfect dose of comic relief after so many years of hardcore academic grind. But boy am I glad I have another year of school left!
This will not be the last time I mess up a ritual or service in front of a community – but I will forever remember this moment, and my natural response to laugh. I pray for the ability to come back to that place often.
I am human…faulty, perfectly imperfect, and a perpetual learner. Thanks for sharing the journey with me!