More music, so tonight, more musical musings.
The past couple of days have been a chance to follow the breeze, and to roam the streets of Tel Aviv, soaking in its sun, art, and markets. Yesterday, the streets of Tel Aviv were filled with artisans selling their wares – beautiful glass hamsas, handcrafted mezuzahs, recycled sponge crafts, necklackes, pendants, kaleidoscopes, and photo frames. I followed Tavor, my current host in Israel and fellow staff person from camp, into town with Ellie, also a friend from camp, and we spent the bulk of our pre-Shabbat dinner time taking in the colors and collections of crafts that lined the cobbled roads.
I couldn’t help but notice the presence of art already along the walls of Tel Aviv, most particularly a couple of stenciled Gandhis, smiling on the back of a street sign and peeking out from an alleyway. I continue to be taken with the abundance of artistic expression that seems to occur here in response to the country’s underlying conflict. All around, graffiti crops up – beneath bridges, at traffic junctions, in alleyways and on the sidewalks – depictions of confusion, protest, love and hope in the face of daunting realities.
In the midst of all this, life goes on. Like Palestine, like America, like most places I’ve been in my travels – people here in Israel seem to desire to live life while life is free to live, however temporary this condition may seem. I spoke today with Gal, camp’s song leader of seven years, and his candid remarks really stuck with me. As he put it, “You know, we do some shi*&y things, and some shi*&y things get done to us. At the end of the day, we don’t want to spend all our time thinking about security. People just want to live their lives.” People are always aware of the conflict here and of the unsustainable nature of the situation, but at a certain point, you can’t let these things keep you from moving through your day to day life.
I find myself doing the same as my time in Israel comes to a close – moving through my day to day life here in Israel, trying to strike a balance between living life, and letting life move me; trying to pursue solutions to big problems with intention, purpose, and a commitment to learning, while trying to accept that solutions beyond my understanding will make themselves known. I think this is part of the reason it has seemed best recently to focus in more on my personal experiences and truths, rather than generally tackling the vast issues beyond the scope of my experience and knowledge.
Tonight, we made our way to a barbeque at Tomer’s (yet another Tawonga staff member’s) house. There, we spent a relaxing evening sharing delicious food – including homemade humus and guacamole we prepared at Tavor’s earlier – with friends old and new. Tomer brought out his classical guitar, and I spent most of my evening strumming, something I have missed greatly the past couple of days, as my guitar is sitting idly back at Omer’s farm. In the midst of this, I had a wonderful conversation with an old camp friend, Ayelet, about living life off the beaten track, and charting a middle road between the mind and the heart. Beneath all this conversation is the consistent sense that there are more than enough problems to solve in the world, and as individuals, we simultaneously feel powerless to affect change, while completely empowered to change ourselves. It would seem that Gandhi is an appropriate figure to have seen smiling down on the streets of Tel Aviv.
It’s easy to look at Israel as a place of great conflict and unsustainability – but if we step back, it’s not hard to see that life in America (and around most of the world) isn’t so different. Most of us know it, and most acknowledge it, but it’s hard to resist that desire to just live while the livin’s good. For me, that’s why I keep coming back to permaculture and growing things; why I’m so impressed by people who devote themselves to becoming midwives, or to learning about community, or construction. There are certain elements of life that are intrinsic: the need for food, the need for community, the need for shelter, the processes of birth and death. No matter what happens in the world, these needs will remain constant, across cultures and borders, and these are skills we can cultivate, still living while the living’s good, and skills we can turn to if the living gets tough.
To end this ramblin’ man’s post, I felt very grateful last night to have joined Ellie’s extended family for a wonderful Shabbat dinner – another event I had hoped to take part in, and stumbled into serendipitously. Shabbat as I have always understood it is a time to relinquish our hold and sense of control, and to remind ourselves that there are forces beyond us that work independently and often through us. One day a week, Shabbat is an opportunity to rest, and to observe how the world goes on without us – to reflect on how we can use the following days to help take part in guiding the world towards the co-creative ends it is tending towards. It is an opportunity to embrace humility, rather perhaps, than to be humbled.
These are my thoughts as I am stepping outside to join Tavor and his friends. I continue to feel humbled, and continue to enjoy these permacultural pursuits as I make my way inevitably closer back to the States.
With heaps of love,