Recently I noticed a scab on our daughter’s knee, and I was brought back to when she was born. Babies’ knees are perfect when they are born, and she was no exception. Of course I believe she was perfect all over, but I found myself transfixed by her perfect little knees. By the time our daughter was born, our sons were 5 and 3. Their knees were already roughed up and often scabbed over. In fact, most of us tend to picture knees as these scarred, ugly things that tend to go out on us with age. This is probably why her knees fascinated me. If our knees are a testament to how active we are at roughing them up, then her knees were a completely blank slate. Her smooth, pudgy legs had endured nothing, and she had her whole life ahead of her to bang them up and make them into the rough joints that look so natural—just like the rest of us.
With knees we do not expect perfection. Coarse, bumpy, slightly greyed patches of skin are normal, and perfectly acceptable. Why then, would we expect any less of the rest of us?
Life makes us marred. Humans are not perfect (except maybe when they are babies), so there is no reason to expect anything more than coarse, bumpy, slightly greyed individuals. The High Holy Days are a time to reflect on that which makes marks on us, and how we impact others.
11 Elul:An often repeated quote from the Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him the most about humanity: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”