Locations accumulate associations. My desk, for example, is now associated with sitting cross-legged in my chair and gloomily staring at the to-do list of things to study and feverishly trying to avoid doing any of them. This does not make my desk the most cheerful spot in my room.
People build up associations too. This is why you sometimes have a knee-jerk negative reaction to an otherwise innocent behavior or comment from someone who has irritated you in the past.
Sometimes, you just need to get away from all the associations. This is the idea behind a vacation. You can sleep late just as well in your own bed, but your own bed has that alarm clock next to it, and it’s in your room that you need to clean in a house you need to maintain with a sink you need to empty and full of people who are potentially hazardous for your blood pressure… Thus, people prefer to sleep late in a hotel, motel, or even a campground, where there’s no sink at all. No sink, and no associations. Aaaah… That’s nice.
Judaism acknowledges this issue as well, with Succos. One reason given for moving out of our homes shortly after Yom Kippur is to help us maintain that fresh start by removing us from the association-filled environment that causes all that unfortunate autopilot behavior. Having a new home, albeit briefly, provides us with the opportunity to start over. Sort of like a troubled couple trying to piece their marriage together with a second honeymoon. Only, a little colder and a lot wetter.
Any transition in life is an opportunity to start over, to be more conscientious, to be a better or more dedicated person. Isn’t that how we approach new marriages? We promise ourselves we’ll always be considerate, we’ll never get angry, we’ll never slack off, we’ll always be in love…
And that’s how I approach the idea of moving out on my own. It’s a chance to begin a new painting with a palette of idealism. To escape any of that negativity that might have built up in my old haunts and habits and relationships by starting them afresh with a different perspective.
It’s easy to promise to become perfect when you get married, but it’s a tough guise to maintain if you don’t have much practice. That’s what’s so nice about this. It’s an opportunity to get a head start on perfection, by practicing on a new beginning.
New beginnings are a time of great hope, anticipation, and change. I’m grateful to get in an extra one now, before marriage.
by Rudyard Kipling
My new-cut ashlar takes the light
Where crimson-blank the windows flare;
By my own work, before the night,
Great Overseer, I make my prayer.
If there be good in that I wrought,
Thy hand compelled it, Master, Thine;
Where I have fail’d to meet Thy thought
I know, through Thee, the blame is mine.
One instant’s toil to Thee denied
Stands all eternity’s offence;
Of that I did with Thee to guide
To Thee through Thee, be excellence.
Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
Bring’st to Eden to the craftsman’s brain,
Godlike to muse o’er his own trade
And manlike stand with God again.
The depth and dream of my desire,
The bitter paths wherein I stray,
Thou knowest who has made the fire,
Thou knowest who has made the clay.
One stone the more swings to her place
In that dread temple of Thy worth,
It is enough that through Thy grace
I saw naught common on Thy earth.
Take not that vision from my ken;
O, whasoe’er may spoil or speed,
Help me to need no aid from men
That I may help such men as need.