New Year’s Reflections

Happy Christmas Everybody! You know, as a Jew on Christmas I’m glad I live in NYC. Christmas brings tons of parties and events celebrating the holiday, not to mention all the Jewish cultural events produced to give our people something to do while the rest of the city shuts down. Good times.

And of course the New Year –in the Jewish, Christian and the secular worlds – is a time of reflection. Being the maudlin type, I tend to get very reflective in the few moments of sobriety between parties. This has been a crazy and tumultuous year for Culturebot the site and Culturebot the person. As a site we covered tons of great work, did interesting interviews, broke a story about the Culture Project, brought in a new editorial team and have started the process of redesign and, hopefully, growth. We want to be the pre-eminent community website for the contemporary performance scene. So keep reading, spread the word, and most of all a big THANK YOU to all the readers and artists and bloggers and everyone who has helped make Culturebot what it is. We appreciate your support!

For Culturebot the person it has also been an incredible year of growth and change, a year of great ups and downs, amazingly wonderful experiences and really distressing ones. I have worked on tons of great projects and with tons of great artists, I got to be in an amazing show (Thanks to Alex Timbers, the Les Freres Corbusier team, all the cast & crew of Hell House and the great folks over at St. Ann’s Warehouse for giving me one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve ever had.) I got to see one of my heroes, Lou Reed, in a once-in-a-lifetime performance. Personally, I’ve had joy and heartbreak, I’ve made many new wonderful friends and lost others. I’m coming out of this year older and wiser and am looking forward to taking some time to figure out the next steps in my personal evolution. I’m one of those people who always finds the longest possible route between two points but the experiences along the way always broaden my mind and, hopefully, my consciousness. So here’s to expanded consciousness in the New Year. I personally want to commit to opening my mind and my heart in the next year; to trying, once again, to be in the world in a conscientious and compassionate way, to remember that good works are an end unto themselves, not a means to an end.

In the Jewish tradition the New Year – Rosh HaShana – begins a week-long period of reflection that culminates in Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. During that week we are obligated to go to everyone against whom we have trespassed in the prior year and come clean, to ask for forgiveness. Then, on Yom Kippur, when the Book of Life is open for only a day, we fast (no water, no food, nothing) and stand before G-d reciting a really long list of all the possible transgressions we might have done either intentionally or unintentionally: lying, cheating, betrayal, stealing, you name it. And we hope that by making amends with those we have wronged – and with G-d – that we will enter the New Year with a renewed commitment to doing good deeds and being a better person; we will begin the process of healing the wounds we have incurred and those we have received by starting anew. It is by doing good deeds and treating others righteously that we actively engage in healing the world (Tikkun Olam). Thus personal interaction is directly linked to the well-being of the world at large. When we treat each other justly and with compassion, we make the world better.

See? I’m waxing poetic again, and maybe a little moralistic, sorry. I don’t believe in God. But I also don’t believe that just because God is dead that we live in a completely relativistic and amoral universe. If the idea of God is a power greater than all of us, a higher being, a higher consciousness, an all-encompassing, all-knowing entity that exists beyond our comprehension, then I believe we create God in the way we treat each other. Maybe God is the sum total of all we are and all that is, collectively. It is not a discrete entity that sits outside us, but rather the culmination of all that is. And thus we create that entity, and it is created by who we are and what we do, the nature and quality of our thoughts, our expressions of compassion, in our conscientiousness towards those around us. I don’t know. I guess this moment of sobriety is lasting a little too long and I should wind it down.

So I’m going to try and take the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, do some reflection and get some much-needed rest.

Culturebot the person and Culturebot the site wishes all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you walk through the world with joy and compassion in your heart. May you find what you are looking for, or at least what you need, may you have peace, prosperity and fulfillment. There’s a war on, people, not just in Iraq but in our country and the world at large. We need artists to rise to action, to help create new visions, to articulate new ideas, to help the world dream again. We don’t need to just point out the problems, we have to look at our little laboratories of human experience, our work, and help make the world bigger, wider, deeper and more. The world needs us, now more than ever, to make it a better place.

Peace, yo.

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