I am struck by the pictures my friend Holly is sending back to us from Hong Kong and Vietnam.
She’s feeding her wanderlust with banana pancakes, dim sum, and gorgeous panoramas, while feeding our desire for travel photography “porn.”
I love instagram.
Almost in the same moment that the drool drips down my chin, while mesmerized by the lush green mountain ranges and Buddha statues, I long for the eyes through which I saw Israel in the first months I lived here.
The virgin immigrant eyes.
The virgin immigrant heart that burst with joy each and every day…at the beauty of this land; in curious awe of her people.
When we first made Aliyah, every drive was emotionally equivalent to a stroll through an art museum; every hike through a national park was a new adventure in a foreign land.
Every day I would find myself saying out loud: “Do I really live here?”
And I meant it in the same way a mother whispers over her newborn baby, “Are you really mine?”
Two years after making Aliyah, I find that my eyes and my heart are still capable of wonder.
But it’s an experience that does not come as naturally and as automatic as before.
I need, instead, to make those moments happen.
And that takes a lot of work on my part.
I need to see the trash fire in Kfar Manda
— and turn my anger into compassion, and then activism.
And that’s really hard.
It’s much easier to be angry. To rant. To shake my head.
I need to remember, in a moment I feel frustrated by my community, when I am outraged by their seeming indifference to the trash that peppers our fields
how grateful I am for my community.
How my community supports me.
How my community allows me the freedom to be a Jew in Progress. To be curious. To be a novice at living in this country.
Acknowledging my community as a gift, however, is really hard work when I am stuck in a moment of discontent.
It’s much easier for me to assume. To judge. To wish myself away from here.
It’s really hard work — and a huge emotional commitment — to be present in your life all the time.
To notice. To stop. To redirect. To be who you want to be, not your raw-emotion-of-the-moment.
It’s exhausting — living your best life.
It’s much easier to feel alive when you are on vacation — separate from the drudgery that often clouds your intentions.
It’s much easier to feel alive when you are first in love; experiencing a newness; your senses overwhelmed by glorious colors and smells.
I recognize this.
And I acknowledge that some days I am too tired to live my best life.
But on the alternate days — the ones in which I work hard for happiness, the ones in which I allow my heart to be open and my mind to be free — I find beauty that surpasses any landscape, any painting, any colorful market scene.
A vacation awaits me.
In my regular boring life.