Suppose you had a really great library book that you could renew an unlimited number of times. No worry about depriving any other borrower. It happens that everyone has his/her own copy; in fact, it's customized for each reader. Also, it's kind of a book club book, a shared, interactive reading experience. Call it life, or if that's too vast, call it a year.
Of course, we know that a year is a circle—an orbit—not a book of 24 pages with a cliff-hanger ending on 12/31. And unlike a wall calendar, a circle is endless. Hop on, hop off. But it behooves us all (like race horses?) to have a starting point, so we know how much progress we've made. Hence birthdays. Hence January 1. Hence Rosh Hashana, March Fourth, and Turn Over a New Leaf Day, a holiday I just invented, on June the whenever.
As I say, you can renew any day you like and renew as often as you like. No card, no PIN necessary. But it helps to have a sense of concurrence from the planet, the one that's doing the dang circling, after all. Which is why a September New Year's day makes sense.
Not that I went to temple today. I stayed home, visiting the temple between my temples, as I told my friend Helen a bit glibly/defensively. But I had my moment. Sitting on the front porch this afternoon—a cloudy day, a bit cool for a change, in the sixties. The wind making restless surges in the trees across the street. And that old feeling that goes with September, of something stirring: change. Urgently. Told, tolled, by the crickets. Take note, take notes. Something definitely in the air. Momentous. As exciting, in a reverse way, as spring. Migrant warblers in confusing fall plumage coming back. Time lapse of plants shriveling, going to seed. A different motion, less tentative than spring's early changes. This is wiser, surer, the prep for sleep, night lights, chilly nights. A good time for a new year's beginning? Sure. A voyage into the the shortwave radio, the story around the campfire.
And like the vuvuzelas on 1/1 (though without the corroborating change of season), the September New Year comes with its own wind instrument. Are you ready? asks the shofar. Take note! There is something definitely in the air!