I’d like to say I’ve been thinking all day about what I would share with you. But I didn’t.
Instead I pulled myself out of bed at sunrise, walked a mile to class, and was promptly told it was cancelled. I went to my second class, finished some computer work, went to my next class (in which we discussed the sameness of donuts and coffee cups), had lunch and studied with a friend, went to a work meeting, had dinner, and went to my last class.
Then, when I got home, I balanced my check book.
It was a thoroughly typical day, but this is not a typical post.
There are still 111 days until the semester ends and already I feel defeated.
I’m scouring my mind for words to elaborate, but that line seems to say everything I can muster at the moment. I came in anxious, and the first week assuaged some of my stress; then things picked up a little in the second week, and though I can honestly say I’ve had a few great accomplishments and some greater experiences since the semester began only eleven days ago, I sit here with the sad realization I already feel defeated.
Where did I go wrong? When did my plans fall apart?
Like the elements of an unintended chemical reaction, things lately have been building toward an inevitable explosion–or worse, an irreversible meltdown. Between classes, uncertainties, and life changes, “chaos” even seems a kind descriptor of recent events.
Then, between today and yesterday, but mostly today, things were pulled back into perspective and I’ve had the power–the courage perhaps–to do what I haven’t in a long while: Write.
When our second day began, we took a short walk from our motel to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian across the street. After pausing for pictures outside, we ventured into the unassuming building and gathered in a small room where we saw a creation story animated before us. From there, the world opened up.
I’d like to think it’s not the only thing opening up today.
I just finished reading an article about Israel’s draft law, and I find it ironic because it concerns precisely what I was speaking about yesterday in my thoughts on this week’s teaching from the Pirkei Avot. Not about integrity or faith, however, as metaphors of relief from citizenship and earning a livelihood–no, not at all. In Israel, the trouble isn’t in taking this teaching metaphorically, it’s about taking it literally.
Lately we’ve been hung up on a few things–most notably, perhaps, my attempt at reconciling tradition with my personal evolution. The “fear” of the Lord. Sharing words of Torah. All this, all that. Et cetera. I hate the idea that I must “reconcile” anything–saying it like that implies there’s some inherent disconnect that needs to be overcome. If this is what my faith has become, can it still be called faith?
Matters of philosophical importance aside, this week’s teaching sent me straight to the footnotes.
Fate is such a subtle seamstress. Even when my life is unraveling down to its smallest fibers, right around the corner the loom is suddenly strung once more and everything is pulling itself back together again. In a matter of days, I had died. In a matter of minutes, hours, I had been brought back to life. I had lost both sleep and sanity last month–both responsibility and intention had vanished with the moderation of my mind. And now, now all of that has been brought back to me. Now all of that has left me overflowing with such joy I’m on the brink of tears in any given moment, simply overwhelmed with this magnificent and beautiful intensity.
Taking a look at my goals for March is depressing. It starts off on the left-hand side remarkably green, but as the weeks progress, one by one green dots turn to orange–failure. Lack of achievement. Missed accomplishment.
I could easily give up. I could easily say, like with many New Year Resolutions, I’ve missed my mark. I have loosed my arrows and now my quiver is empty. I have nothing left to give. I shall break my bow and bow down to the powers that be, the societies and stigmas that have kept me from the success I had dreamed of months ago.
But I refuse to do so. I refuse to succumb to the fates that weave reality. I refuse to do it. I did not make resolutions to be broken–I made goals to be kept. My long-term goals have not changed, not changed one bit; only my short-term goals, those steps I am taking to get there, have transformed into something new, into a path with greater clarity. Every moment is a moment to learn from–and when good things come into your life, time seems to make itself. I have had my hand at failure. I will not lie and say I have only found success in my life. But to hide my failures is unbecoming; by embracing them, I can learn from them and grow into something–someone–greater.
Today I’ve been lax. I just haven’t had the energy to do anything. Not that I’ve been sleeping too restfully, though. Why is it when I yearn for sleep most my dreams keep me awake? Perhaps I’m more stressed from the prospect of school starting on Monday than I had imagined.
In any case, our time here is beginning to close. With the passing of one narrative births another, and only seven teachings remain.
I didn’t write many stellar essays while in Israel. As I mentioned before, this was mostly due to my dislike of essays at the time, and although I’ve since learned how to imbue myself in a formal topic, most of my essays on AMHSI were too structured to be too entertaining: I was given a question, and I answered that question. No bells, no whistle, just facts. Rather boring, like I said.
A few essays, however, turned out rather well, and although I think–if posed with the same questions today–I could write them better, I still appreciate them as they are. They stand out to me as the stepping stones where I placed my feet while crossing the river between inexperience and skill in writing. True, some stories have the potential to demand a rewrite, but for these essays, to do such would undermine the importance of my time in Israel, and that simply is something I will not do. (Besides, changing them now would have no practical purpose, so it’s rather senseless anyways.)