Spring is in the air. So is pollen and so is renewal.
In almost every culture, spring is the season of renewal. Each year, as winter ends, I appreciate the change of temperature. I love seeing little buds and shoots on plants and trees. I enjoy the green herbs in our family’s garden. Renewal is a popular springtime theme for poets, photographers, and just about anyone whose sensory receptors are primed to take in the freshness that is breaking through. This week, I propose that we capture, with a word, that wonderful springtime feeling of renewal, for use in our lives throughout the year.
Photograph provided by Richard Shavei Tzion
Our capture word is "Titchadesh." No need to pronounce it. It''s a Hebrew term. Here in Israel, it has a fascinating connotation. Literally, the word means "may you be renewed." Figuratively speaking, Titchadesh is a benediction, a blessing that expresses hope for restoration of internal, emotional vigor by something that has newly entered a person’s world.
We might say that the concept of renewal exists also in the English language. It does. But I can’t recall, when I lived in the U.S., anyone urging me to find renewal. Americans didn''t slap me on the back and say, "May you be renewed, man!" Israelis, on the other hand, extend the Titchadesh wish on a regular basis; and they seek out excuses to offer the blessing.
In Israel, I''ve received a “Titchadesh,” when I’ve come into work wearing a new shirt and when I’ve driven up to a party in a new car. I heard it when I renovated my house. Someone once exclaimed Titchadesh even when they noticed my slight hairstyle alteration. I''m still scratching my head about that one. But my point is that, when someone says Titchadesh, they’re taking notice that I’ve undergone some change, and they’re challenging me to use that change as a springboard, A springtime springboard, we might say. An opportunity to renew our growing, on a deeper level.
That’s the theory. Now let''s put on our "52 headset." What about specific times in life when trying something new has inspired growth?
In my house, we have many examples. Fifteen years ago, when our family moved to Israel, we encountered a variety of novel approaches and attitudes. Some, we adopted; others, we rejected, opting to remain with the mores that we knew on the other side of the Atlantic. Most importantly, I think, each of us came with a willingness to consider things differently and to try new ways of life.
On my arrival, I left the practice of medicine to enter the corporate world of biotechnology, where I worked for six years. I missed taking care of patients, but I confess that my vision was re-shaped and renewed by the ways in which business people view their surroundings. My little professional detour made me a better physician, I think.
For instance, when I launched the new department of radiotherapy at my hospital, I hung an organizational-pyramid chart at the reception desk. My simple poster with names, photographs, and titles gave our staff a graphic explanation of how I envisioned our department functioning. What''s more, it helped patients to understand the difference between physicists, technologists, dosimetrists, and other personnel who were there to help them.
But what about you? Have you, perhaps, witnessed a failing marriage make a comeback, capped by the couple renewing their vows? Has your favorite restaurant renewed the joy of dining by remodeling their menu? What, in your world, calls to mind renewal?
At the start of this spring-season essay, I mentioned pollen. Just as some people are allergic to pollen, so too there are people who break out in a rash from the prospects of renewal. Renewal involves change and change is not an easy process. But having observed the upsides, I feel it is tragic when people are not aware of opportunities for renewal.
Recently, I visited a colleague in Philadelphia with whom I’d worked. As we toured his facility, he beamed with pride over his newly acquired, top-of-the-line radiation equipment. I was happy for him, especially after three years of reading his emailed frustration at being obliged, by frugal administrators, to treat cancer patients with outdated machinery. He suddenly looked like a young man, endowed with new conviction.
Still, something seemed to be missing in his life beyond his new treatment rooms. I shared with him the concept of Titchadesh and expressed my hope that he might apply his renewed exuberance to aspects of his nonprofessional life that might benefit from the boost of rejuvenation.
It''ll be interesting to see what he writes in future correspondence.
Shalom until next Monday,