Oh how I wish I was in your bedroom right now and could place inside your tiny paper plate ears a pair of plastic headphones so you could close your eyes and hear what time travel sounds like at least once before you die.
Since I can’t or, let’s face it, you won’t let me no matter how nicely I ask or how sane I try to sound, I will settle for the next best thing which is to request that you click through to this link and turn the volume up as high as it will go, press play and close your eyes.
The next 27 seconds is what time travel sounds like; and the three and a half minutes after is best suited for singing out loud. No, not lip syncing, but, singing out loud. Or (this part is optional and only for the truly possessed) pretend you are slow dancing — with me, or with someone else not me, someone you won’t let put headphones into your ears even though you really want to because you think she’s a little off or a little too sorrowful or a little off.
Close your eyes. Then, cross your arms. Rest your hands on opposite shoulders. Sway back and forth. Back and forth. Until
Reporters will tell you there are two, maybe three narratives in the Middle East. They’ll split the stories into perspectives and call them Palestinian and Israeli or East and West or Arab and Jew. But that’s like saying Moby Dick is about a whale and a man. I don’t know what Moby Dick is about — I still haven’t read it. But hundreds of thousands of people have and I can’t believe it’s because it’s a story about a whale and a man.
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.”
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
We smuggle them into our homes despite the eye rolling of our spouses, our parents, our roommates.
We tolerate repetitive sneezing due to dust and the mildew and the ancient tree pollen lurking beneath pages 204 and 205 of the worn book of poetry; for the last time it was opened was beneath an olive tree in the rain.
We can be spotted inside libraries caressing the faded red jacket cover of a 1930s edition of Alice in Wonderland, both in awe that this edition is in our hands and moved by the many hands it has passed through.
Hands now wrinkled, hands now dead and buried, hands that have held wonders of their own in the years since they last held Alice’s.
We weep at inscriptions:
To John, Love Grandma
To my beloved wife on our 5th wedding anniversary
To the 8th grade graduates of Merrick Long Island Hebrew Academy. Mazel Tov!
We rescue old books from the recycling plant or, worse yet, from the dump.
We hold on to them in case of the apocalypse or hand them over to crafty friends to offer them a secondhand chance at life as a kitschy framed work of art for sale on etsy or as an IPAD cover, a final project for graphic design school.
Sometimes you hear us sighing in a used book store.
Sometimes we get lost in a used bookstore.
Sometimes we get caught longing for a used book store. Someone asks us, “What were you thinking about just then?” And we answer, “I was looking at your canvas tote bag from The Strand and wishing I was there right now.”
Truth be told: If I could be anywhere right now, I would be inside a used book store.
I would be sneezing my brains out. I would desperately need to use the bathroom (book stores have done this to me since I was 7.) I would lose track of time and part with lots of money, but this is where I would choose to be on any given day.
I suppose that movies had a hand in this, what with The Neverending Story and The Ninth Gate.
I suppose books themselves have had a hand in this, too. By becoming old. By becoming rare. By becoming obsolete in a way. By carrying in their spines the secrets of a thousand and one human beings.
I don’t know why, exactly, I have such a strong affection for old books, but I imagine it’s wrapped in my curious regard for the passing of time.
It’s a way to touch the past.
It’s a way to relate to people who I will never have the chance to speak to or behold.
It’s time travel of a sort. It is. Stop saying it isn’t.
Old books make me weep for the people who once read them.
For the person who will read it after me. Whom, I hope, might weep for me, too.
Might remember me, the ghost of me … with fondness.
For, despite the space and time between us, we both once turned this book over; swiped the top corner with a damp pointer finger; placed it spread open wide on a night stand or flat sandwiching a clean white tissue inside.
You see: I’ve been at this a while. This thing I call “sharing of myself with strangers.”
I’ve been writing and posting opinion pieces, and uploading and approving photos of myself online since … well, at least since 1997. That’s as far back as I am able to trace myself though I imagine a stalker or a fairly good sleuth with a wad of cash with my name on it could identify earlier instances. Let’s hope that the first doesn’t exist, and the second never does.
For most of those 17 internet loving years, I stood firmly by the belief that sharing was good; identity theft was bad; and that since there was no way to stop people bent on investigating you or stealing your credit cards, why not position yourself in the light you prefer.
There was one little detail I didn’t pay attention to.
It’s that the light I want to shine in is ever shifting.
Even more so, there may come a time when I don’t desire the light. When I prefer to be hidden in the shadows.
If one day, a mob were after me, they’d find judgmental rants I am now ashamed of; they’d unearth unkind comments that were written on an off day; and they’d be able to amass a decent collection of really unattractive photographs of me in really unfashionable clothing (especially if they come across any from 2001 – 2003).
They’d find pictures of my kids that were cute in context, but now seem inappropriate. They’d stumble upon references to wacky dreams I’ve had or remembrances of drunken bodily performances. They’d certainly find articles written in a voice that is no longer mine; in a tone I no longer wish to express myself in.
I am not the girl you will find on a Google search.
I’m not even the girl who began this blog in 2011.
I’m someone else entirely.
In the cleaning up of the bread crumbs of me, I began by deleting or making private any online content I thought might embarrass my growing children. An effort of Herculean proportions that I will certainly never complete to their satisfaction.
Next, I tried to dig up the most obnoxious, off-the-cuff public statements I’ve made over the past year or two on Twitter or Facebook. Things I meant in jest, but might one day be held against me in a court of rash, cruel, public opinion.
But I know — even as I do this —
That my efforts are nearly inconsequential.
Because what is appropriate now might one day not be. And what I see as an innocent or well-intentioned sharing of myself could, at some point, be used to position me as anything from self-centered to irresponsible to crazy.
What do you do with that knowledge?
Do you unplug completely? Do you spit in the face of future detractors?
Or do you do what any good lawyer would tell you to do?
Dreams — and how they figure into our waking lives — fascinate me. I don’t remember which came first — my vibrant dream life or my wonder for that version of reality. But both have been with me since childhood.
What’s curious to me these days is lucid dreaming and predictive dreaming, both of which I seem to be getting better at.
The other night, for instance, I noticed I was in the middle of a super frightening nightmare, and I willed myself awake. Not bad, I thought, when I woke up in a sweat. Now how do I start teaching myself how to fly?
For the past year or so, I’ve occasionally (a few times a month) experienced deja vu during the day in which I am certain I dreamt the interaction already the night before. Nothing momentous; in fact, regular every day occurrences that have a particular interesting twist. Not just the regular drop off at my daughter’s preschool, for instance, but one in which her classmate starts to speak to me in Russian.
I’ve read that such predictive dreaming is, in fact, not uncommon. Famous physicist Russell Targ (most well-known for his work with the military on remote viewing) writes about his own experience with precognitive dreams “predicting” newspaper headlines that he’d then read the next day.
But here’s a peculiar phenomenon I haven’t come across yet in reading on the subject of dreams, and I’m wondering if any of you have: Sometimes I dream my Facebook feed before it happens.
I have 851 Facebook friends. I’m pretty well aware of the 50 or so who appear regularly in my feed. So that when I dream of someone far away — who is not present in my day-to-day interactions and who is not one of the regular 50 people who appear in my feed — and that person shows up in my Facebook feed the next day, I am … to say the least … startled. Like, “Hey you, weren’t you just randomly in my dream last night? What are you doing in my Facebook face?”
Is there an algorithm to explain that experience? I say that only half-facetiously. There probably IS an algorithm to explain that. (If so, please share it, and if possible, in graphic novel format, which is how I best understand geek.)
In addition to dreaming about someone the day before they show up in my feed, I have, on multiple occasions, been talking about something with my colleague at work during the lunch hour — something seemingly obscure — only to find the topic being explored in an article posted by one of my Facebook friends in my feed when I return from lunch. As if Facebook was eavesdropping on our conversation.
Is there an algorithm for that? For overhearing a discussion on, let’s say, the ecosystem of the gut after eating meat or milk? Is there an internet worm crawling from our ears, our minds, and back into “the system?”
I know that readers of this blog span the spectrum of futurists believing we already live in the Matrix to religious devotees who believe the Bible literally happened. (And I appreciate that diversity!)
So tell me: what do you think? Does this ever happen to you, too?
Is it more common than I think, this transmission from mind to physical matter (our computers) and back again?
Or am I naive to think of “the internet” as matter, at all? Isn’t it, too, mind?
“As an immigrant, I feel both frustrated and grateful. Frustrated because I can’t communicate how and when I want to. Yet grateful for that fragile window of time in which I must pause. I have no other choice.”
What You Need to Know About Me Before You Read My Tip
I like to curse. I think people who curse are cooler than people who don’t. I think people who don’t read blogs because the author uses curse words are over-sensitive. I used to have a blog called The Wellness Bitch. I like to scream, “Fuck,” really loudly when I stub my toe or drop something on it. When I say Fuck really loudly when I get hurt it makes me physically feel better. All my kids, ages 5 – 10, have said the F word out loud at least twice with my permission. (Two of them have a hard time differentiating between the F sound and the Th sound so at least one of them probably said THUCK. ) I have to hold back sometimes from saying to my kids, “Are you fucking kidding me?” because despite how much I like to emphasize my surprise, I know I don’t want them saying that phrase to their friends or teachers. All in all, I want to live in a world where people curse, but don’t want them cursing at me. For instance, I don’t want to ever be on the recipient end of “you are a f-ing …” well… anything.
If you like to curse, move to Israel where nobody gives a SHEET about cursing. Three year olds drop their pacifiers on the ground and say, SHEET! 10 year olds miss a goal on the soccer field, and they scream, SHEEEEEEET! Not to mention, every one and their 90 year old grandmother says “dafuk” which is basically a morphed Hebrew version of the F word.
It should have been obvious (but it wasn’t) that curse words not in your native language lose their strength. Which is why “shit” is something Israelis of all ages say by the way, without a second thought. (Including my own angelic little 7 year old.) Israelis don’t even consider “shit” a curse word. It doesn’t belong to them. It belongs to English speakers
But say “Lekh tezdayen!” to an Israeli and you might just make them flinch, or so I learned the other day when I said it a little too loud in my office coffee break room. Silly me, I thought I was being the cute immigrant. Turns out I was being foul.
The internet, while seemingly a solution to the problem of the environmental impact of paper, is in fact turning me into a murderer.
For the past decade, I’ve been an obnoxiously devoted supporter of replacing paper with screens.
I’ve forsaken writing, receiving, and hoarding handwritten letters in exchange for emails. I’ve replaced the amusing 20 minutes I used to spend browsing the greeting card aisles of the Hallmark store in exchange for working too hard on a mildly humorous Facebook birthday greeting. I’ve even given up one of my greatest pleasures — lounging in a hot bath with a paperback — because now I read on Kindle and I’m too afraid of electrocution to bring my IPAD within five feet of a pool of water.
Did Al Gore, when he created the internet, carelessly forget about this thing called evolution that has now made it literally impossible for me to read on screen anything longer than 300 words?!
Yes. I admit it. I cannot read on screen anything longer than six paragraphs. All those articles I share on Twitter? Only read the first 300 words. Skimmed the rest. Occasionally I will force myself to read an entire 1000-word post of a good friend first by leaning in (thank you Sheryl Sandberg) and then by literally hugging the monitor close to my face, forcing my mind to process each and every word.
When I really need to read something I don’t want to read — because for some reason, people keep writing ARTICLES, CONTRACTS, and DOCUMENTS longer than 300 words and I am professionally bound to edit and/or respond to those documents — I print them out on paper. I have to. Otherwise, I black out and find myself mindlessly scrolling Pinterest.
Yes, tree killing is coming back. Watch. You’ll see. You and me — we’re headed towards a killing spree.
Kibbutz Harduf in the Lower Galilee, an anthroposophic community with a unique approach to intentional living, and Israel’s largest producer of organic food.
Before we made Aliyah I first learned of Harduf from my (now) friend Haviva’s article in Zeek about local, organic living in the Galilee. At the time, I was running my own consulting business in New Jersey, the main focus of which was on educational and marketing efforts in the area of holistic health and green living. When we started researching communities in which to live I looked into the possibility of moving to Harduf.
I reached out via their Hebrew web site, but received no response. And when I asked our Nefesh B’ Nefesh regional Aliyah consultant her opinion on whether she thought Harduf was a good fit for our family, she advised against it, indicating it wasn’t the best place for new immigrants unless we were all very focused on living the “hardcore anthroposophic” life.
This was wise advice.
It wouldn’t have been a good fit for our family.
But, wow, it would have been a good fit for me — in another life. And sometimes I wish we lived there.
The beautiful campus is set upon a hill which overlooks in the distance the bay of Haifa and the Mediterranean sea. The residents, in the 30 or so years they have built up the kibbutz have put obvious effort into making the explorer’s experience of their home one peppered with wonder and teeming with vitality.
Harduf is itself alive.
I don’t live there, but I am lucky enough to live very close — just a 15 minute drive away. Recently, I joined the health clinic there (the physician, an M.D., is trained in both conventional medicine and anthroposophic medicine, which emphasizes homeopathy over medication.) So I’ve been spending more time there and try to build in an extra 10 or 20 minutes to wander every time I have to go there.
This morning, I brought my two youngest children over to Harduf to walk through the gardens, smell and touch the fruit trees, wander through shaded paths that lead to unexpected structures, and play on their gorgeous playground, a wonderland of thoughtful planning and handiwork.
It was a two-hour slice of heaven.
Only after playing on the playground for an hour and on our way out to the restaurant and store that is open on Shabbat did I see this sign:
The sign basically says, “Entrance to the park is forbidden to non-residents of Harduf. The use of the playground is for children supervised by parents.”
The sign was new. It wasn’t there the last time we visited.
Still the new immigrant, I couldn’t pass by the sign without a thought, leaving the rule following to others. I’m still very American, and I felt bad for a minute that we had unknowingly defied the sign.
But only for a minute.
Soon after, I was angry. Insulted.
Telling non-residents to “Keep Out!”
How could this be?
I quickly snapped a photo of the sign and ushered my kids out.
I silently generated all sorts of indignant responses to this sign:
“Oh, they’re happy to have my business at the organic vegetable market or at the restaurant, but they aren’t willing to open their playground to me and my kids?”
“What if I was a tourist? Or a visitor to one of the families who lived here? How rude!”
“Would we ever put up a sign in Hannaton telling people who didn’t live there that our playground was off limits?”
I took the kids to the restaurant, which has a quaint little gift shop inside and we browsed for a bit.
As I approached the cash register to pay, I saw the owner of the restaurant and a long time Harduf resident, Jutka, there. I don’t know Jutka well: I’ve just had a few conversations with her a couple of times that I’ve been in the restaurant. (Jutka is also the author of this family-friendly vegetarian cookbook.)
I asked her in Hebrew about the sign at the playground, “Why is the playground off-limits to outsiders?”
She grumbled in response, “It’s for security reasons.”
She didn’t mean security in the traditional Israeli way, I quickly learned. The signs weren’t a warning to unfriendly neighbors, people who might want to hurt us. Those “security risks” don’t pay attention to signs.
What I understood from her was the signs were to protect Harduf from lawsuits. They were placed there to inform people of their personal liability.
She didn’t mention specifics, but I wondered if something had happened to spark this decision.
I told her I was disappointed and a little hurt to come upon the sign. I told her that I consider Harduf a paradise, and was taken aback to see such a harsh statement at the entrance to a park I love so much.
She sighed. I understood from this and her from eyes that she’s proud of the paradise she’s helped built, but she said,
“Even in this paradise, there are reasons to be concerned. Even in Gan Eden, there was the serpent,”
Jutka said this with a sly smile. (Jutka is someone I’d like to get to know better some day.)
I breathed in deeply and nodded, her words hitting me. Even in paradise there are problems to solve; hard decisions to be made. And Harduf is no exception.
Suddenly, I wasn’t angry anymore — it helped that Jutka invited us to be her guest at the playground, should anyone ask — but I was a bit disheartened: Reality bursting my bubble once again.
I shook it off — and instead accessed the gratitude I had felt for the few hours on Harduf before I discovered the sign.
“You can sense the spirit here, can’t you?” Jutka asked.