In Chariots of Fire, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture (along with three others) in 1982, Harold Abrahams, winner of the 1924 gold medal in the 100 meter race, compares his compulsively driven personality unfavorably to that of his friend Aubrey Montague who finished sixth in the steeplechase that year.
For all his fame and success, Abrahams laments he has never found contentment: “You, Aubrey, are my most complete man,” because, and I am paraphrasing now, you are content with who you are and do not spend your life as I have always trying relentlessly to prove your worth.
My New Year’s resolution for 2020 is to strive for the contentment that Abrahams saw in his friend Montague.
Psalm 131 frames my quest:
(Help me so that)
My heart is not haughty,
nor my eyes too lofty.
Neither do I exercise myself
in things too great
or too far beyond me.
Surely I have stilled
and quieted my soul
like a weaned child
with his mother.
Let my being be like
a weaned child. (Psalm131:1-2)
As a New Year begins, I hope to be as good a person, husband, father, grandfather, friend and rabbi that I can be.
“Who is rich,” asked the second-century Sage, Simeon ben Zoma?
“The one who appreciates what he has.” (Pirke Avot 4:1)
You have blessed me in ways too numerous to count.
Help me to quell regret for things that elude me
With profound gratitude for the things that I have.
May I come to realize, at last,
That the constant pursuit of more—
Is in the words of Kohelet:
“Vanity and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
Grant me, I pray, health and strength
To – in the days and years left to me –
Make life just a bit better