It’s almost 6 months since we moved to Israel…and I’ll soon compose a contemplative look back at our transition to life here. But in the meantime, I’m doing eight loads of laundry in a crappy stackable washer/dryer set that’s shoved in too tight into our bathroom and it got me wondering…how is my life easier and harder compared to my life in the NJ suburbs?
I recently discovered this blog post at BrainPickings.org in which they feature a film of people discussing their “perfect city.” I loved watching what people had to say about their ideal community, and then thinking about my own answer, particularly since I have been so immersed in and focused on intentional community since we moved here.
The answer for me, if I’m offering the simple one, is “my ideal community would make my life feel easy.” Why? Because I find that the “easier” my life feels, the easier it is for me to give and receive. To love and be loved. To enjoy life. To live in the present. To smile. To breathe.
Why “feel” easy? Because, as you must know, there is no easy and hard. There’s only what you feel is easy and what you interpret as hard.
Now, of course, living in (or participating in) intentional community isn’t always easy. Like life, living in a small, intentional community is give and take; sweet and sour; hot and cold; easy and hard. It’s our job to be mindful of the balance, no?
Much of what makes my life feel easier here has to do with living in intentional community. I’m very present to that fact, and thankful for it, because it really counterbalances most of what makes my life seem harder here:
- Parasitic bugs that like to live in your hair
- Poisonous critters
- Critters that hang out on your ceiling while you’re sleeping
- Critters that hang out on your porch waiting to bite you
- Dirt that somehow ends up in your dryer, despite going through a wash cycle
- Dirt that won’t come out of your laundry…ever
- Dust on your window screen, on your floors, car windows
- Cleaning dust on a tri-weekly basis
- Being far away from family and friends
- Being far away from family and friends, and trying to find a good time to Skype with a 7-hour time difference
- Food-centric society
- Food-centric society that loves the foods my kids are allergic to
- Food-centric society that isn’t necessarily mindful about how said food leads to rotten teeth, poor behavior, and childhood obesity
- Crappy appliances
- Foreign germs
- Language barriers
- Crazy drivers
- And, in a nutshell, a society that cares little for clear order, rules, organization, structure, or advance notice
When I get aggravated about, annoyed with, or frustrated by the things that seem to make my life harder here, I try to remind myself of what makes my life feel easier:
- Intentional community: Neighbors that want to get to know me, and do
- Family-friendly community (and by community, I mean both specifically the “yishuv” of Hannaton, and Israeli society)
- The sharing, caring, and intimacy that comes with living in small community
- Open space
- Open space filled with children my children’s ages
- Mild weather
- The beach
- Less time in the car (walking the kids to preschool, the bus stop, etc.)
- Family nearby
- Shabbat dinners at my house (where your kids to entertain mine)
- Shabbat dinners at your house (where my kids eat your food and you clean up after them)
- English-speaking co-workers
- English-speaking neighbors
- Hebrew-speaking neighbors that are tolerant of my “Heeblish”
- Minimalistic lifestyle
Yoga on my neighbbor’s rooftop
- Letting go…
The list is much longer than this, I am sure. And could get a lot more detailed and specific. And perhaps it will…
I’d love to hear your thoughts on your “ideal community.” What about where you live makes your life easy or hard? If you could live anywhere, would you live where you do? And if not, where would you live?
2 thoughts on “Yin yang”
Home is where the heart is… that’s what they say, right? until the basement floods, a skunk moves in under the shed, and the train schedule changes so now the 5:30 a.m. whistle is the new alarm clock.
The truth is, I LOVE where I live now – Austin, TX. I have lived in D.C., MA, NY, AZ, Israel, and spent significant time all over California and Chicago and have travelled cross country road tripping for 6 weeks at a time taking a Northern and a Soutern route. For me the ideal community is not really about a place though. It is, like you said, a feeling. The thing is, my feelings blow with the wind so at times, I like more seclusion and at other times I am all about sharing the love. I just spent the last week at a folk music festival where if you looked down from 1,000 feet above, it may have looked like a refugee camp – tents everywhere, minimal clothing… On the ground, for me, it is a dream land. Shared meals, singing, playing, encouragement, kindness. Take away the 100 degree weather and it is heaven. My kids feel free and appreciated there. I feel acknowledged and supported as a mom and as an individual. THere is giving and receiving moment by moment. But we arrived home late last night and my dog, chickens, tortoise and other assorted pets make me happy, along with my luxurious bed (post sleeping bag it is even more decadent), and a private shower is a delight. Unfortunately, being back means needing to go to the market, do some laundry, clean out the car… or maybe I will just ignore it all for another day and just give my girls some hair wraps and henna tatoos, hang with our next door neighbors, and make some beautiful homemade challah for shabbat and invite friends for a pot luck…
I hear your voice (and your being, Dev) in your comment, and can very much relate to what you say. My original post only touched the surface of my thoughts on this topic, and I could wax philosophical for hours…by myself or over coffee with a friend…on the topic. On the whats and the whys.
I too go through phases, cycles. Some of those cycles overlap with each other. So there might be a day where I love my life and everything feels easy, but then my hormones rock my world and convince me otherwise. Like you, I move from being all about sharing the love to desperately craving seclusion…which, in a small tight knit community, means that I need to be very mindful of when I’m actively and positively contributing, and when I’m better off taking myself out of the game for a while.
More to come from me on the topic, for sure. I value your contribution to the conversation. Thank you!