The title of this post isn't gematria, but life sometimes does happen by the numbers.
Break one bad habit today, suggested the Omer guide for day 23, Gevurah of Netzah, Discipline in Endurance. On Friday every eye, nose and throat in New York, including mine, was itchy and scratchy, but I felt fine while warming up to lead services*. But after the first few prayers I realized was oversinging, trying to compensate for problems breathing (mine) and hearing (the sound system's). I was very hoarse. I tried to concentrate even harder and started to zone out like I did two weeks ago, becoming so involved in the music that I almost forgot what and where I was singing. A strange, new place, and a good one, but I kept looking for the ground below. I need to be more present, I thought. Or maybe I'm too aggressive; I should pull back, sing less.
Then I thought about the Omer and figured this was as good an occasion as any to break the bad habit of criticizing myself, and so tried to remember that I knew what I was doing and had no reason to imagine otherwise. It was legitimately difficult to concentrate; the sanctuary was very, very hot, the energy level uneven. Not every week can reach the kind of ecstatic high notes I'll finish writing about one of these days. This particular Shabbat reflected reality; I think the roomful of us had a bad week, and climbing to a place of peace and safety was harder than usual. We ascended slowly, and were most definitely there by the Aleinu. I wished we could have kept singing.
Today, day 24, as I catch up with the count, I consider Tiferet of Netzah, Compassion in Endurance: Does my determination compromise my compassion for others?... Exercise for the day: Be patient and listen to someone who usually makes you impatient. I did this, too, for many hours over a cup of coffee after services with a friend and then for myself during a lazy, indulgent weekend of resting my brain, body, and doubts.
* ...for the 16th time.