Past, Present, Future

by Walt Clark, Office Assistant10575385_10101407932399142_6711001650359510826_o

There was an ancient Roman god called Janus who was known as the god of beginnings and transitions. All entrance ways and exits fell under his purview. He was depicted as having two faces, one that faced the past and the other towards the future. Janus is not a widely known as other ancient gods, but at the beginning of every Roman religious ceremony, Janus was invoked at the start. Invoking Janus was considered to be a way to obtain good fortune and favor in every new endeavor.

I bring up this mythic figure because we are in that transitional part of the year. So much so, that we, to this day, still carry Janus in our calendar as the first month of the new year, January.

from the Vatican Museum

There is something about starting a new year that for many people gives a sense of pressing the ‘refresh’ button. People take on resolutions to better themselves and recommit to plans they have lost track of.

As some look forward, others look backwards. How can one expect to move into a new year if the old was especially difficult? Change can be unwelcome, even it’s just switching a number.

By the front entrance of Mayyim Hayyim there is a guest book filled with quotes and well wishes from people who have visited us. Recently, my eyes brushed over the pages as I was on my way out, and I saw this quote:

“Thank you for providing in the most beautiful and peaceful way, exactly what I needed.”

There are many quotes just like this throughout the guest book, each one unique and varied. Each marks a moment in time, between an individual’s past and their future. Depictions of Janus are shown as a face turned to the left and a face turned toward the right. Thinking about this, I realized what Janus is missing is a face turned towards you, to the present.

The present is a precious and fleeting thing as it flies between Janus’ gazes.  Between the entrance and the exit, people can hold ‘right now’ for a moment, and in doing so, take whatever they may need from it. The words in the Mayyim Hayyim guest book remind me that we provide a space to be present. For some, being able to experience the present allows them to feel a greater connection to the world around them. For others, it allows them to step away from the outside noise and hear the quiet voice inside themselves.

As we reach the beginning of the year, Mayyim Hayyim will continue to be a space for transitions; a space to find the moment between what was and what will be.

Walton Clark is Mayyim Hayyim’s office assistant and jack of all trades.  He is a working BAM keyboardist in Boston, leading the acid-funk outfit Roxo Gato as well as performing in a variety of groups. You can follow him on Twitter @walt_twitwalker and on Instagram @welaxer.

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About mayyimhayyim

Mayyim Hayyim is a 21st century creation, a mikveh rooted in ancient tradition, reinvented to serve the Jewish community of today
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