Motivational Signs and Rosh Hashana: Part 2

Two years ago I wore a piece about Motivational Graffiti and Rosh Hashana, featuring photographs of graffiti that felt relevant in terms of the Jewish New Year, traditionally a time for renewal and reflection.

Tomorrow is the eve of the new year – the year 5781 in the Hebrew calendar-and I’ve been thinking about images that correspond to thoughts I’ve been having about the direction and resolutions I’d like to manifest in the coming months, especially in light of major issues that have come to the fore since my last post on this theme.

Climate Emergency and the Environment:

One of the first images that came to mind was this poster I’d seen at an Extinction Rebellion gathering in London’s Trafalgar Square, during October 2019. I think the use of the word ancestor also resonated with me as it would often come up in discourses on Jewish history. I like the play on the timeframe, fast forwarding into the future and thinking about the consequences of our behaviour on future generations. I appreciate the way the person who made the poster added decorative leaves to the instruction, and the fact the sign is juxtaposed with a cleaning in progress plastic cone:

In terms of a ‘new year resolution’ this is quite a big undertaking. One way I like to approach a goal that feels limitless and therefore a bit overwhelming is to break it down into small, realisable steps. So the next image, one of many stencilled temporary graffiti messages sprayed on the paths of Hampstead Heath this summer, is attainable. For example, taking litter home with you, in the absence of bins is easy and can become automatic behaviour. However I do this already. Are there other ways where I can leave no trace. Apparently there are seven principles – I will study them!

Coronavirus and Anxiety re the Future and Unknown:

This is a big one.

I remembered a photograph I’d taken of a guy in a park whilst I was dancing salsa outdoors … those were the days! He was wearing a top emblazened with the text WORRY IS A WASTE OF TIME. That is a good mantra, I thought. And now, with the autumn looming and the future, although always unknown – feeling more uncertain ever, particularly appropriate:

Although I rationally know there is no point worrying about things one cannot control, I still do it. However I have been trying to be more mindful and in the moment, and intend to continue. I’ve been incorporating Tai Chi and Qigong into my weekly routines, which have changed considerably since March of this year.

Above – sign at London Underground Station with quote about Inner Peace.

I’ve looked this quote up and most searches attribute the author as unknown rather than Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou did say however: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

I think this is something I’m coming to terms with; adapting my lifestyle and desires in light of the pandemic and trying to embrace change. I may not be able to touch my mother, dance salsa and sing with lots of people but I can still enjoy life, respecting other peoples’ safety and boundaries but still exercising my creativity and accessing a joie de vivre. Below, some street art seen in London’s West End during lockdown STAY SAFE BUT REMAIN FREE:

Being an Ally in the Fight Against Racism:

Something I’ve been aware of increasingly in the past year is my own privilege. During the pandemic I have been walking everywhere with my camera, and this has given me a sense of freedom, a freedom that someone of my gender would not have in many countries. I’ve also been increasingly aware, though the Black Lives Matter movement of my racial privilege. As someone of Persian Mizrachi heritage, although I do not identify as white I can PASS for white – people often assume I’m Italian or Mediterranean. I am confident in my core beliefs of being non-racist but is this good enough? My personal history and experiences have contributed to a non-confrontational disposition. However I think this is something I need to work on, as I have come to understand that just being non-racist is not enough. Below, a poster with a quote from Angela Davies, at the Black Lives Matter Silent Take The Knee Protest in Highgate, June 2020:

So this year I intend to work on my silence; not to the extent that I’ll become a nudnik – but so that I am a ally, contributing to justice, and not just a witness. Below, protestors with SILENCE IS VIOLENCE sign, June 2020:

So this past year has been a wake up call. I want to keep on trying, keep on growing, challenging myself and adapting. Roll on Rosh Hashana 5781. Below, some graffiti seen in New York – there’s also a googly-eyed little face on the pipe for a bit of added humour and creativity. WAKE UP DREAM BIG:

2 thoughts on “Motivational Signs and Rosh Hashana: Part 2”

    • Thank you Karen, I’m glad you like it. This holiday has always felt relevant to me and it coincides with so many things – new academic year, autumn equinox, etc!


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