Venting In The New Year

Venting In The New Year


I’m not a fan of resolutions. I rarely bother, mostly because I don’t like to set myself up for failure. But I did have a short list of things I wanted to accomplish this past year.

Top among them was learning how to clean out the dryer vent. I don’t mean the easy, everyday removal of lint from the collector between loads. I’m talking about the opening of the relevant dryer parts, hardware and all, in order to extract every last piece of fuzz, or at least the areas the vacuum nozzle could access.

I know, I know. Not exactly a spiritual Everest, or the stuff meaningful personal growth is made of. Still, it was important to me, for reasons ranging from home safety and dryer efficiency to personal skill-building and a sense of homeowner empowerment.

Two weeks before Rosh Hashana, my husband and I set aside an hour on his day off. We try our best to have some kind of an adventure that day – to reconnect amid the chaos of our obligations by exploring a small town or park in our tiny state, or if time is really limited, just finding a new coffee shop for catching up over a latte.

Instead, we lugged the vacuum cleaner down to the laundry room and got to work. He usually tackles this chore alone, but I was insistent he teach me this time. To my surprise, it was a team-building exercise par excellence, a chance to laugh at ourselves and test our patience for one another, like when I lost the screw to reattach the vent cover and my husband only shrugged, even as he struggled to find an exact replacement so we could put the dryer back together. Still, our sole disappointment was that we couldn’t spin all that lint into gold.

The timing of the lint clearing struck me as opportune in retrospect. We’re in the season of the clean slate – of starting fresh, of committing to doing better, and of growing in meaningful ways. What, after all, are the words of atonement we will utter between now and Yom Kippur but a venting of our sins, a shedding of our misgivings and regrets? We clear them out the best we can, whatever we have the strength and time for, whatever we have the spiritual wherewithal to access. And from there we aim to start again.

I have not yet set new goals. It seems too lofty to aim for a lint-free year, to think I might keep my slate clean for that long. Something more tangible and possible will come to me in time, I assume. For now, I’m just trying to focus on the self-reflection Yom Kippur requires of me, the sukkah decorating, and the making of the many, many festive meals we’ll consume over the next few weeks.

May the days and the year ahead be filled with blessing for all of us.

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