Yesterday night, Talia threw a celebration for the Jewish New Year with her parents visiting Seattle and a group of friends, mostly writers and poets and our accomplices or “the people who accept us.”
We sat around the table with three types of homemade hummus (regular, mushroom, and artichoke), red and green apple slices and a bottle of Mt. Rainier honey, an unbroken pomegranate looking old and wise all by its lonesome, chips and crackers and some challah from a Seattle bakery, which happened to make its challah “unbraided.”
(The challah itself looked beatiful with its golden sheen, and the two loaves looked like gorgeous giant hamburger buns!)
In other words, amazing.
Talia and her parents explained to us the symbolism of the different foods. How the apples dipped in honey represent a sweet new year. How a pomegranate, which in the Jewish tradition is said to have 613 seeds, represents the 613 commandments of the Torah.
All this symbolism bred a kind of gratitude in me for all that was before us and for how, throughout different traditions and religions of the world, people find sacredness and meaning in the beauty the world presents us in the everyday.
While eating we proceeded to talk about writing, which comes up all the time, of course.
One person asked, “Why write? Nobody reads anymore.”
Another person said that more people want to write than the number of people who want to read.
Of course, most of us being writers, we get the question all the time, especially from our parents or any other concerned individual who worries about how we will keep our lights on and the honey running and the apples sliced. And often it is a question asked with a kind of geniune curiosity, a sincerity, and even a sense of grief over the “decline of the book.”
If anything, traditions teach us that the world changes but some things stay the same, and sometimes for the better. We don’t just repeat things because we are creatures of habit but because in the repetition we somehow feel better about ourselves and about the world we live in.
I don’t know how to keep myself alive as a writer. Certainly, there aren’t many choices. People go into teaching or they work in an office and write at night. But if I couldn’t imagine myself alive without writing and reading, if it is my habit and if it somehow makes me feel better about myself and the world that I live in, I don’t have a choice but to honor that so I can live another year and eat more hummus and challah and honey.
Shana Tova to all of you.
BTW, I am rewriting my novel this year. Or was that last year and whose calendar?