If it was a place

fortitude

If it was a place —
cognitive dissonance, it
would be here, Israel.

Where in one swift shift
I move from embarrassment
(I forgot about swimming

lessons) to fear of
war. Shame I forgot about
it; murder and them

(those who can’t forget
except in dreams which aren’t real)
and yelled at my son

for telling me he
was bored on the second day
after school ended.

If it was a place —
cognitive dissonance, it
would be here, Israel.

Where over coffee
I compose long to-do lists
grateful in a way

to be a mother
with room in my heart for lists.
For tomorrow’s plans.

If it was a place —
cognitive dissonance, it
would be here, Israel.

Where over bacon
(made from turkey) I slowly
savor the almost flavor

of America,
and imagine I lived there
again. Would the world

be less dissonant?
More in tune with my inner
rhythms? harmony?

If it was a place —
cognitive dissonance, it
would be now, this, we.

It would be — it is —
the surreal surrender in
waking, in spite of.

 

Totally awesome redefined

I’m a girl who grew up in the totally awesome eighties, so it’s taken time for me to integrate the word awesome into my system with an emphasis on awe. But as I am awakening more to the magic in my life and in the world around me, I’m finding it necessary to rethink, “awesome.”

I processed this realization as I watched a trailer of an upcoming film in which astronauts describe what many of them say was the life-changing experience of viewing Earth from space.  Shuttle/ISS Astronaut Nicole Stott (who looks more or less my generation) says, “Awe is one of those words that you have a better understanding of once you see [what the planet looks like.]  I felt like using the word awesome was totally appropriate.”

(OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.)

Listening to the interviews with the astronauts, combined with commentary from philosophers, made me think that a trip to space would be a suitable prerequisite for all youth entering adulthood. What if, instead of going to college or the military, human beings first shot up to space, gazed out at our collectiveness on this planet, and wrote a poem or a song? What if they curated a photo exhibit or painted a picture or choreographed a dance or just simply wept with understanding and wrote an essay called, “What I did on my summer vacation in space?”

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell may have been the most impacted by his experience viewing our civilization from above. Back on Earth, he later formed a non-profit institute that researches meditation, consciousness, and human potential. Mitchell says in the film trailer:

“That’s a powerful experience, to see Earth rise over the surface [of the Moon].   But instead of being an intellectual experience, it was a personal feeling… accompanied by a sense of joy and ecstasy, which caused me to say ‘What is this?’ It was only after I came back that I did the research and found that the term in ancient Sanskrit was Samadhi.”

I highly recommend watching this powerful trailer and then letting me know what was awe-inspiring for you today. For me, it was a dream I had last night that came true a little today; it was a work opportunity that appeared at the perfect time; it was a song I hadn’t heard in 18 years but appropriately so since it only suited me today.

Some say there was a shift in consciousness that took place in 1968 once humans got a glimpse of the planet from space. And that this shift is ongoing today.

“This view of the Earth from space — the whole earth perspective — is the true symbol of this age and i believe what will happen is there is going to be a greater interest in communicating this idea because, after all, it’s key to our survival. We have to start acting as one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t.”  — Frank White, author, The Overview Effect

 

 

A poem about Israel

For my 15-minute Friday exercise, I jotted down some thoughts I had while celebrating/not-celebrating the Jewish High Holidays in Israel this year.

The poem I produced out of this exercise may be found here on The Times of Israel  and is a culmination of both my confusion and my devotion; of my acceptance and my denial. It is an admission of judgment — of myself, as well as others. And it is a declaration of hope.

Or maybe it’s just a poem.

A whim. A wish.  An exercise. A prayer.

Amen.

 

 

The characters must fit the story

I almost forgot to punch out my 15-minute Friday piece until I checked my WordPress Reader and saw that the Daily Prompt today pushes us to “Go Serial.” I started going serial accidentally last week when I found myself compelled to write yet another poem about Kfar Manda, the Arab Village down the street from Hannaton, the kibbutz village in which I live.

I was in Kfar Manda because I heard from my friend on Hannaton they had a great health clinic with good doctors and lots of services the smaller clinics here in the North don’t typically have. The two clinics I normally go to were closed and I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t want to wait until the next morning, when my doctor would return to the office.

Going to the health clinic is always a test of bravery for me here in the outskirts of this country. You never know how good the doctor’s English will be and you never know if your Hebrew will be strong enough to indicate which organ feels busted or which region needs attention.

I still don’t know how to say vagina in Hebrew.

I do now, however, after many awkward interactions, know the grownup words for peepee and poop.

It took me 6 months of living in Israel before I felt comfortable going to the doctor without my husband in attendance. But it took me 2 1/2 years of living here before I felt comfortable driving in and around Kfar Manda.

This week was the first time I drove in alone. And I only felt comfortable doing so once I saw on Google Maps that the clinic was only a few blocks from the main road. That said, Google Maps doesn’t really work in villages  Northern Israel: neither the Jewish nor the Arab Villages have street signs. And so directions “to turn left  on Peleg Street” don’t help in real time. So even though the clinic was only a few blocks in, I needed help from the locals to get me there.

By a mix of my broken Hebrew and theirs, I found my way to the clinic and was graciously supported by the Arab doctors and nurses. The only difference between this clinic and the one I normally go to was language. The promotional signs from the health plan, for instance, were in Arabic instead of Hebrew; as were the conversations between the health professionals.

My solo trip into Kfar Manda didn’t end there. I had to go for an Xray. I could have waited a few days and scheduled an appointment in Karmiel, the nearest city. But I wanted to get the Xray over with. So I asked the doctor for directions.

In typical Middle Eastern style, he pointed out the window and told me in Hebrew to walk this way, that way, and then straight, straight, straight for 50 meters and I’d see it.

I nodded and did as I was told.

Except after 45 minutes in the heat of the day trying five different versions of “this way, that way, and straight straight straight” I only found myself at a market, a pharmacy, and at a store selling curtains.

It was time to go home or talk to people.

I chose to talk to people.

7 or 8 people later, I found the hair salon whose owner pointed me to the bank whose member directed me to the restaurant that was above the Xray center.

I found it.

And in doing so, I found another way of looking at Kfar Manda.

A perspective that involved real people, not just characters in stories. Stories based in fact, yes, but stories also based in fiction. In assumptions. In racism. In fear.

Stories I had been told and stories I told myself.

And so, with personal experience, my understanding of Kfar Manda shifts.