Thursday, April 15, 2010

Efshar od echad?

Life is constantly peppered with questions and decisions about practically everything. No deep epiphany in that sentence, surely.

But for some reason it is now that I find myself thinking hard and asking: What kind of person am I? Is that the kind of person I want to be? Do I even know what kind of person I want to be?

In short...well, there is no short.

Since moving to Kibbutz Gaaton in August '09, I have been able to do a lot of self reflecting. As people have moved in and out of my life (and the kibbutz), I have developed a deeper, though not necessarily clearer understanding of myself and my perceptions on life, art, and social interaction.

In dealing with a diverse range of personalities agreeable and otherwise, I have realized that I can be incredibly difficult, hurtful, selfish, dismissive, resentful, and jealous over the tiniest things. I read a self-summarization by a character in a Philip Roth novel who declared that she could be thrown by a syllable and goes through 80 emotions a minute. Not surprisingly, I related.

But to cut myself some slack, I've also learned that I can be selfless, thoughtful, and giving. I've learned to listen to people when they speak. I've surprised myself by just how much I can care about others. I've made a nearly 180-degree reversal with my artistic intentions. I have new things to say. Things with meaning. At least to myself.

So to answer the first question, what kind of person am I? I am constantly evolving and learning. I am stubborn but willing to compromise. I don't know what I want, but I know what I don't want. Everything is instinctive. I am incredibly and sometimes unreasonably sensitive. But I love and feel deeply. And I am ridiculously self centered, but I'm working on that...

Where I go from here is any one's guess.

******

I spent the last few days in Jerusalem. I drove there by myself, an idea which initially frightened me. As I approached Jerusalem on Highway 1's narrow and twisting roads, I was filled with a mix of giddy excitement and anxiety about the upcoming traffic situation. But no matter, I felt an immediate sense of gratitude for being able to just drive into Jerusalem. A city that people dream of visiting but never do. Or they do, but only once in their lifetime. And yet here I was, driving past the Sonol and Paz petrol stations that signify, at least to me, the entrance into Jerusalem.

I parked as soon as I could and headed to the Machane Yehuda market seeking out my friends. When I asked Sophie where she was, she replied "surrounded by fruits and vegetables and a cheese store." She may as well have added 'nuts' to her sentence, for fruits, vegetables, cheese, and nuts are practically the entire contents of this market. Luckily I found her along with Arianna and Alex within seconds. Nothing short of a miracle in the Machane Yehuda market...

I spent the rest of my day having a goodbye lunch with Arianna who was to return to the US the next day and with Brittain, my former kibbutz neighbor turned reluctant Yerushalmi.

The next day I took some time to wander around the Old City. No matter how many times I go there, I always find something new. I took Sophie and Delphine to the roof of the Austrian Hospice, overlooking the roofs and narrow alleyways of the Old City and boasting a splendid view of the Dome of the Rock at a close distance. Its in moments like these where I can feel the weight and magnitude of everything, the world, and both the triviality and enormity of my own existence.

******

Now I'm feeling only the heaviness of weight on me that I cannot place. I know that everything will be okay.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom Ha Zikaron

This is not about the Holocaust.

This is not about how I feel about the Holocaust.

**

Last night marked the eve of Yom Ha Zikaron, a somber memorial to those who died in the Holocaust. To commemorate the event, my kibbutz held a gathering of kibbutzniks young and old, some even survivors themselves. An elderly survivor played the violin. A young woman held her survivor grandmother's hand as she told her story. A photo slide show was shown. Candles were lit. I danced with my classmates to pay tribute. In the end, everyone stood to sing in Hebrew. I did not know the words. I stood silently and listened to this room full of people singing and was touched by the sight of my friends' tears and emotion.

Today at 11am during ballet class, we stopped as a horn blared for a full 2 minutes where we stood still in silence. Some classmates left the room to stand outside. Those inside looked down reflectively and respectfully. Some were overcome with emotion. How can one not be?

The horn stopped and we slowly ebbed back into the flow of class. Back into the flow of life.