14 ~ Palestinian logic and Serenity Prayer
Courage! Where does it come from? What if everything you know, everyone you love, all your worldly possessions could be lost if you proclaim the truth? Add to that pride’s challenge to changing from wrong thinking, admitting error…I hope this brave Palestinian has rock-solid security around him and those he loves. http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/we-palestinians-hold-the-key-to-a-better-future/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=e7d5d4e1d2-2014_02_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-e7d5d4e1d2-54695769
President Obama’s recent meetings with Muslim Brotherhood leaders may have caught your attention in the news – Here’s what you probably didn’t hear: http://unitycoalitionforisrael.org/uci_2014/?p=13271
On the lighter side, I enjoyed a 26-hour vacation from Jerusalem into family, in its best sense. However, since these friendships are new, I feel more an observer of family than a participant, regardless of the genuinely warm welcome. Do you suppose mastering the language is likely a key factor?! I want them to speak Hebrew, but then I don’t understand (yet!) and require someone to step out of the conversation long enough to translate the gyst for me. Mine is a naturally “outside” position, for the time being.
The overnight visit for Shabbat to my darling Yedidya’s darling family was, well, darling on all counts. I so wanted to pack his amazing mother into my tote. A charming, relaxed hostess and amazing cook, I think life in my apartment would be much improved with her taking care of me!!!
Really, each Shabbat invitation since I’ve been here has extended to me gracious acceptance and love, regardless of my fumbling with their traditions, kitchen procedures, and repeatedly confusing names I’ve never heard before. All encounters leave me hoping for deeper friendships over time. Other’s traditions or practices is not exclusively about living overseas. It can be the encounter of roommates or spouses from the same culture whose styles define “on time” or “economical” differently, or can’t agree on what a made-bed looks like.
Always, I want to be more than I am. I’ve been reminding myself for over a decade that I CANNOT be expected to know things I haven’t been taught or had the opportunity to learn. All my life, I’ve sought to learn the how’s and how to’s about so much of life; in hindsight I wish I’d know how to select teachers at the front end of that quest, and understood how influenced I was by those around me not in official “teacher” capacity. Acute awareness of all I don’t know typically applies in varying degrees to practical and emotional/social needs:
- to-do’s (eg, mechanical stuff, using Quicken, hanging picture on walls of Jerusalem stone, etc),
- Relationships – how to navigate conflict, making/ deepening friendships, who to not entrust which parts of myself, etc
What do I do with all this? Some call it the Serenity Prayer. It all circles around my daily conversations with God as I begin the day, and walk it through – the acceptance of my abilities and limitations, balanced by the challenge to learn and grow… these days I’m grateful, even pleased with, the things I do well. Mostly, I’m even grateful for the fires of life that have refined my less-lovely inclinations and attitudes, not because I enjoy the hard times’ sorrow, but because in hindsight, I see the fruit of wrestling with my self-ness, pouring my heart to God to change what I cannot.
This week brought the completion of week 3 of language school, resulting in one very weary me. It’s great, exhausting, and I’m learning so much through the wonderful techniques of the program’s teachers. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it’s great. However, this week was mostly very difficult days following too many nearly-sleepless nights. Tough days are characterized by my emotions being too close to the edge, apparent in me as weepy, rather than irritable or cranky. Tears are so messy and make most people uncomfortable. Strangers steer clear, lest they find themselves wondering what they did wrong, or even worse, trying to help the pitiful, weepy woman.
What prompted the crisis? I was wrestling with the all-too-familiar fear of failure, of not being enough for the task at hand. While those fears are connected with my own tough self-standards, there’s a basis in reality that feeds them, as well. NEWS FLASH: I have not always been “enough” for the task at hand. Whether due to my expectations, or others’ expectations of me, I wasn’t enough. In those times, my heart again looks to my Maker. Still, it took a while for my mind-chatter to settle into the truth, and sleep is the hill on which my battle is typically waged.
FYI: practicing a language alone is, well, lopsided. Plus, it makes me feel lonely to wish for conversation practice. I think I need people with whom to rehearse all these new words and grammar. You’d agree if you could see me directing assorted sentences to imaginary male/female listeners, residing in different corners of the room. Thus far, they’re not talking back, which is a disappointment because that’s exactly what I need to happen.
One day I went to an event that was not what I’d hoped, but rather than walk out, I prayed to not miss whatever might be there – for me, or to pass along to another. As it turns out, I met a woman who might be a good match for conversation practice. We’ll see if it, or any of the many other like-encounters work out.
Is this the time to mention that a rack I hung came crashing to the floor and managed to crunch several CD cases. Soooooo, I returned to the hardware store for the largest hangers touted to be most effective on this thin-plaster-coated STONE. I pounded the 2 hangers in and the rack held, with gentle use, for another week before crashing again, sending more CD-case splinters. Even though the CDs aren’t stacked directly below, they seem to be the target with each descent. I surrender! My purse is hanging on the back of a chair and the rack is safely on the FLOOR with nowhere to fall, much to the relief of the CDs.
Serious Snow fell in Jerusalem last night and it’s COLD. The primary wall of my main room (livingroom+kitchen) has worsened week by week since mid-December, due to rain damage; it embodies my imagination of leprosy. Jerusalem had exceptional rain and snow the past several winters before I arrived, so it’s not ME. I have not brought Denver weather to the desert! And my saga of rain damage and uncertain repairs is a common problem among Jerusalemites. I’m still waiting for the rains to prove the most recent attempt at roof repair was adequate, so the painters can return to recreate Duststorm Central (aka: wall prep), and then I hope to finally hang pictures and set up the main living area. How will I hang those pictures, you ask? Ummm I’m certainly not going to trust those hooks with large, framed pictures. I am told there’s some sort of jack-hammer drill for this stone, and at that point, I’m out of my league, so will ask for help from Yedidya and/or my friend who graciously loaned her husband for earlier projects.
Central air is a valuable feature here in Jerusalem, and is called “Air Conditioning,” referring to both cooling and heating. This makes for potentially comical dialogue as the owner boasts the home’s air conditioning, and then is puzzled when asked about heating. They repeat, “It has air conditioning” and the potential renter/buyer says, “I understand. What about the heat?” and round and round it goes, Laurel & Hardy style, or just like communication between men and women.
Have you mastered a language besides your mother tongue? I’m open to tips or suggestions! I’ve always had great empathy and respect for those who learn English some years after the language they learned at their mother’s knee — the unending vocabulary of English, exceptions, exceptions to exceptions, convoluted grammar, the spelling rules. Remember diagraming sentences in school, or searching for a word in the dictionary because you don’t know how to spell it, only to discover the spelling is impossibly convoluted if/when you ever do find it?!?
Hebrew is a much more organized language than English, with more consistent rules for spelling and only 3 tenses (compare with English’s 12 or more tenses). Many words’ meanings even perform multiple logical functions; for example, the word for “to weigh” is used as “to consider”. Now, doesn’t that make sense?
I love that I laugh more than I did a decade ago. That this very intense heart even finds humor in crashing coat racks, the shower head squirreling around to spray the entire bathroom when turned on with full water pressure, or that I seem to always have laundry to (hang)dry when it’s raining.
Is it ok to laugh alone? I hope so. The commercials on a Hebrew radio station bring to my mind goofy cartoons dancing to the silly voices and songs. While I usually have no idea what they’re selling, the technique is the same mostly-annoying not-clever commercials you surely also hear. Why do advertisers seem to think we’ll be attracted to their product? Although the sound is annoying, the pictures in my mind are silly, and I laugh out loud. I love that.
This week, I finally tackled something I’ve been putting off: learning the Hebrew letters on the keyboard. Simple emails will be good spelling practice, but the hunt&peck method will not work so I’ve at last accepted the challenge to memorize the Hebrew keyboard, much like I did qwerty in high school typing class. The challenge is greater because we do all our work in class with handwritten Hebrew and the keyboard letters are print, not cursive. I’m told today’s kids don’t learn cursive as did preceding generations. They must learn the keyboard in Kindergarten, now, right?
Learning is an amazing process because we begin with something that seems impossible – whether a new exercise at the gym, food prep technique, or smushing information into our brain so it sticks. Over time and practice, with a few or many mistakes, it gets easier and eventually, second nature. In myself and others, I observe a continuum for learning a skill or knowledge:
- I know nothing but think I can probably do it, or bluff through, regardless. Example: I made cakes from scratch as a teenager, which were impossibly heavy and inedible
- Learn some parts of it, and become a “know it all” Example: Teenagers! Nuff said?
- Learn more and realize I know NOTHING! (Graduate school, for me)
- Continue to study and learn, only to conclude I never will know anything… when in fact, at this point, there is a respectable base of knowledge about the subject.
I learn from your comments. I think about your lives and the parts of our lives we’ve shared. I miss dancing and singing and so many faces. But I’m thriving and loving. Thank you for coming with me. If you post comments, they’re seen and treasured by only me. I’ve opted to keep all comments private, just so you know.