In the tiny gallery of Nahariya’s Historic Water Tower, I noticed Caroline pondering herself in the mirror. Is she feeling darker than she is? Why? What does the darker-ness mean? Has it been put upon her by someone or generated from within, her own perception?
After my few art classes, I examine renderings of water and mirrors for technique, but it’s the suddenly-revealed-to-me Stories that keep me rooted before a painting. Subtleties pull me in, and I ask the painting questions, pushing deeper. Reflections in water and mirrors make me especially curious, and when pictures are without explanation by the artist, the art is entirely liberated to reveal its own stories. In this instance, it seemed important to name her. What comes to mind as you consider Caroline’s life? What would you have named her?
Art frees my imagination far beyond reading a great novel, because it invites me to create the story. In the process of creating, my heart engages with characters and their moments, their emotions. Admittedly, I love making them be who I want them to be. Is it like playing with dolls?
A hot air balloon, my free flowing imagination wants to fly untethered. But it’s not always been that way. With each decade I find my soul responds to things I didn’t like or even notice in years past.
These days I give myself time to absorb beauty, food, well-phrased words. I even eat more slowly, enjoying the texture and taste of the food and the view from my balcony, when I have one. Quiet, instead of using the time to read or computer surf.
Above was my view of Monfort Lake in the Galilee’s lush hills, until a few days ago. For the next few days I will visit friends from a home base of a tiny, pristine AirBNB rental nestled in the heart of Jerusalem, sans balcony.
Israel is again burying police and citizens because of terror. You may have heard about the terrorists who smuggled, stashed, and then used weapons to murder and terrorize at the Western Wall (aka”Wailing Wall”) and Al-Asqa Mosque complex. The Arab world voiced outrage over the immediate, temporary closing of the site for investigation, as well as installation of metal detectors, obviously warranted.
Against what other nation would international protests be directed for temporarily closing-for-investigation a crime scene and implementation of increased security measures? It is beyond logic. There have been other attacks since then, within and outside of Jerusalem, and more terror just yesterday resulted in slaughter of a family sitting in their home for Shabbat dinner, resulting in 3 civilian deaths and others critically injured. What next? Where?
Muslim Arab religious and political leaders continue to promise to terrorists a glorious heavenly reward, plus astounding financial gifts for their families, and streets or monuments likely being honored in their name – all for the killing of Jewish civilians, children, elderly, security workers, as well as whoever else happens to get in the way.
At around the age of 9, my long ponytail was cut dramatically into a pixie style. Shortly afterwards, I was sitting in the car waiting for my mother when a pickup pulled up alongside the car and three noisy 20-something boys/men climbed out. They looked around guiltily and then noticed me. While I couldn’t hear the discussion that ensued, I heard well their parting words, wrapping themselves around me as only words can. “It’s just a little boy in the car.” They laughed, piled in the truck, and drove away.
I relived the moment for decades. Both my younger and older selves debated between 2 undesirables:
- They knew I was a girl and were ridiculing my haircut. (But how likely was that? Wasn’t I just being self-conscious?)
- They thought I really was a boy. (arghhhhhhhhhhhh)
Both options were far worse than the already-regreted haircut that took years to return to “normal.” Far, far worse.
Tacitly accepted for decades, those words shouted louder than affirmations from others or the mirror of hypercritical self-assessment. I was almost 30 before I finally found courage to tell trusted friends what had happened.
All along I feared telling the story would give it reality, but of course keeping it locked within gave it far more power. Need I say how freeing it was to release the mean or unfortunate moment into the trash, where it belongs. Thankfully, my trusted friends didn’t ridicule the power of the words, or the pain they’d caused.
Can you relate? Have you told your story? Stories? Be courageous.
People-watching kept me going around the lake 3 or more laps: Arab men of all ages gathered around bong pipes (what do they smoke?), family picnics and birthday celebrations, sweethearts and good buddies strolling or sitting in conversation, athletic trainers coaching 10-15 women with boot-camp style exercises and running. The variety was endless.
Israel’s intense summer is upon us, and the humidity from the lake and beautiful greenery is thick, but nothing compares with the hot-humidity of Tel Aviv and the other beach cities.
The family who had rented to me the studio on their property has 5 beautiful daughters under the age of 10. The community is so routinely safe – Muslim and a smaller number of Christian Arabs + Druze + religious and secular Jews living and working side by side – that the older sisters enjoy the lake’s community swimming pool independently!
when words are swords
I’ve spoken many, many words that caused pain, and my regret is deep. I can’t dismiss them to youth or zeal. . . they were entirely my responsibility and horrid. Just a few months ago a friend implied she didn’t know a lot about something and I agreed, too heartily and quickly. Her hurt expression and “OK, then,” told me I’d seriously offended her.
“I’m so sorry,” is so lame, but all I had to offer, over and over, impotently. “I don’t know why I said that.” Trying to put into words what the friendship means and my respect for the person and and and arggggggggghhhhhhhhh.
Much later I realized the source of my words: Her knowledge of all things Israel far surpasses mine, and I was startled to discover that I actually knew more than she did about which of two cities is larger, a tiny thing. My thinking was not that she didn’t know much, but rather that, surprisingly, I knew one thing more. Can you see the difference? I wasn’t putting her down, but rather myself, awkwardly, and unfortunately.
worse than Clueless in Seattle is Clueless Everywhere Anytime…
I know there are many more instances when I’ve damaged someone and remained completely clueless, even to this day. A long term friend recently told me how she felt very disappointed and upset after our previous conversation. Clueless-me frantically tried to remember what I could have possibly said to offend her so deeply, all the while saying over and over “I’m sorry…never meant to…so sorry…obviously was clueless…”
Words cut like knives. Not knowing we’ve done it, sliced someone into pieces is the worst. Don’t you think?
Often I get clobbered by strangers. Questions, observations, not speaking to me or even acknowledging my presence. I’m sensitive but my hurt feelings are mature enough to tell me the stranger, or even friend, was Clueless. Strangers don’t know where the soft sides are. How could they?
Intentional clobbering by friends and acquaintances is the last category. These hurt because my walls are down. Having had many many birthdays, I’ve finally learned the pain is sometimes avoidable. Too often, I ignore my intuition or “feel” for the person in the interest of building a friendship. I let them too far in and then the snake bite hurts. I have myself to blame for not using good judgement, not taking care.
Still, as painful as it is, I’d far rather be a recipient than give unintended word bombs, inflicting wounds, sadness, or uncertainty about how others – friends or strangers – are valued in relationship, or life.
Learning about issues surrounding Jewish history, and history in general, as well as everyday life, I’m stunned with what people take to their graves. Impossible experiences, too often never exposed to light of healing. There is so much we never know about each other, parents, siblings, lifelong friends.
July 26 will be the 1st anniversary of leaving my Jerusalem apartment for structured homelessness, to explore this land and her people. I’ve wrapped up a record breaking 7 weeks in one city, Maalot-Tarshika (in the western Galilee) and 6 of those weeks in one bed! (Week 1 proved to be too noisy to be viable, so for the first time all year, I ended a reservation sooner than initially planned, moving to the quieter one).
The year has been thrilling and peaceful, successful and frustrating, disappointing and fulfilling, lonely and blessed with moments of kind companionship – all the things of life!
Not paying rent (except for where I lay my head day by day) has made traveling now seem smart, so I’ve offered one or both passports in Ireland and China, as well as the U.S, and have 2018 plans for Japan and Vietnam and Alaska and even a few cruises. I’ll soon leave Israel’s desert heat for a week in Switzerland with a friend who’s lived there since before WW2, then the US, and finally a week in Poland.
May your journey today be blessed, whether working your way through today’s to-do list, enjoying family and friends, or changing diapers, and may you know how LOVED you are.