When I was a kid, I tried to change into a unicorn.
Wait, scratch that. My best friend down the street, Deborah, and I half-convinced ourselves that we were unicorns, exiled from our magical, rainbow-filled cloud palace and trapped in awkward-human-girl form. Our real names were Crystal Prism and Crystal Lynn (oh good gracious, I never realized until just now that those names sound like they should be gyrating on a pole; I have no idea how our mothers kept straight faces), and we were locked in a struggle to unleash our true unicorn potential, change back into sparkly-hoofed equines, and return to our real home.
We wrote poems — incantations, spells designed to help us effect this change from small, boring girl to marvelous creature of myth. We rhymed “unicorn” with “true form,” which should tell you all you need to know about the verses we laboriously hunt-and-pecked out on one of the family computers.
Yes, I still have copies. No, you may not see them. They were that good.
I’m afraid we were ultimately unsuccessful in our quest to transform ourselves into unicorns, even with the dubious assistance of a couple of crude unicorn carvings (“magical totems”) for which we eagerly forked over our allowances at the mall. Eventually, the far less glamorous change of adolescence came upon us, and we lost interest in playing Unicorns in Exile.
The thing in which I found I had not lost interest, once the tumult of puberty was behind me, was the process of change itself. The idea that we have truer, deeper selves, hidden by sometimes unsatisfying outward appearances, is an alluring one. How many times have we looked back on some action of ours, a time when we missed the mark, and said, “No, not this, that’s not the real me”? How often have we felt that others were not seeing ourselves as we truly are inside?
The month of Elul, a month of reflection and transformation, is an opportunity for me to look deep and see where there is a disconnect between my innermost heart and my actions in this world. Where there is disharmony, I need to work on getting back in tune with myself and the universe. In other words, that is where I need to do teshuvah.
I may not be able to change into a unicorn, but I can change my behavior to bring my outward face into alignment with the best parts of my inward soul. That kind of change is magic enough for me.
#BlogElul, the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, invites participants to chronicle the month leading up to the Jewish High Holy Days through blog posts, photos, and other social media expressions.