Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rosh Hashana: A New Beginning

Truth be told, I wish Rosh Hashana meant more to be. It is the quietest day of the year: the busses don’t run, no one is on the road, everything is closed…a quiet, reflective solemnity passes over Be’er Sheva as I walk to the Negev Memorial to watch the sun set. But this is a day of joy. It is the first day of the new year of the Jewish calendar. When you eat, you celebrate, and you pray that this year might be even better than your last. You slice apples and dip them in honey that the new year might bring only sweetness to you and your family. May it please God be true!

Rosh Hashana was yesterday, and for me it was also the first day that I finally woke up to the fact that not everything is perfect. No matter where I am, I am still me, and there are still things that tick me off! I won’t go into details, because they are in truth trivial, but at times even trivial things seem opaque and bothersome. This was me yesterday: instead of thanking God for my health and my family, I threw a pity party!
But that’s over now, and the new year has begun. I finally start classes tomorrow! Good, sweet, English speaking classes. Aaaaaaah.

I think one of the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country is accepting the fact that you cannot hide yourself in the swift chaos of a foreign land. When I came here I thought I was so cultured and so wise, that I would melt right into the hustle and bustle of Israel. I pushed, but Israel pushed back. It continues to push back, knock me over, and remind me that, hey, we’ve gotten along fine without you and we don’t really need you! I know it sounds extremely egotistical and backwards to say that, but it’s so easy to think that the world is expecting me. It’s not. And I’m constantly reminded of that!

My life is my own and I cannot immitate anyone else. Nor can I wish to do so, because it is trivial. Therefore I and I alone can strenghten and foster (or ruin) my relationships; each new person is an opportunity for something enriching in my life. But be careful and cautious where you go, because not everyone will share your outlook. I learn that again each day.

I’m coming down with a case of “What-am-I-doing-here, Why-did-I-choose-this, Is-this-SERIOUSLY-MY-LIFE??” For a while I felt like I was more or less living someone else’s life, outside my own skin, and I couldn’t really understand anything. Now I feel like myself and just think I’m insane. Ugh.
How can I be myself in a foreign country? Maybe that’s one of the reasons people love traveling-because you can so easily lose yourself if you want to. But I came here to find myself. No, correction: I brought myself with me! I’ve been here the whole time, I’ve just been doing different things: sleeping in a different bed, eating different foods, speaking different words. Even my coffee is different. The way I do my laundry is different.

WHO AM I???

I don’t know. But I do know what I like and what I don’t like, more or less, and that’s okay for right now.
On the one hand I wish Rosh Hashana had a deeper spiritual meaning for me. But as my girl Abby said the other night, you can’t force spirituality and you definitely can’t force or anticipate revelation. Rosh Hashana is such a beautiful day—everything is quiet and still. Families get togethere, the head of the household speaks kindly and prophetically, and you eat a sumptuous feast. It feels a lot like my own Thanksgiving back home, except that my Thanksgiving means I’m home with my family and I can slump a bit in my chair and throw wadded up napkins at my sister over the pumpkin pie.

I can’t throw wadded up napkins at people here…

But on the other hand these shared experiences bring us all closer because we all have slightly different traditions but with the same ultimate goals: to be with the ones we love. And “if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with!”

Love, Mel

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