Last March - I found myself saying 'no' to a few party invitations, and started watching the news with a level of anxiety that I never have before. (And I grew up in the middle east...)
The world and my world changed enormously in or about March of last year.
This year, March is heading out today - and I've started shedding off some of the anxiety that's been circling in me for the past year. It wasn't a drastic dose of anxiety, but it was an ever-present one. In my current visit to my hometown (Day 17) I began seeing the world Post-Covid. The bruise and scar post the punch. The aftermath of quarantines, and obsessive hand washing, and bathing in hand sanitizers, and no handshakes or hugs, and FEAR. So much fear...
I am not surprised my hometown is the first in the world (knock on wood, yes?) to step into the normalcy post trauma. Israel has been through an existential threat for its entire existence (and then some...) so in this community - there is a readiness to deal with survival. Possibly more so than in other places.
Last March was mad with horror, and this year's March offered another kind of MAD for me: the madness of the possibility of the end to this era.
And actual end to this DECADES long year!?!?
Um, yes, that WOULD be mad.
When the ice melts
And the forests burn
And the earth flattens
And the story turns -
I will say my farewell in a metaphor.
A gentle one,
Of the sweetest kind
Wrapped in a blanket
The type children never leave behind
A metaphor that would get passed around for generations.
That would include all kinds of explanations.
Like an allegory, or a poem for the ages
About the death of mankind
And the children in cages.
Consumerism has played a part,
So did ego and its greed
There were also purists among the herd
But they were not the ones to lead.
No, mankind likes its stars shiny and high up above
Separate from the earth and oozing with self-love
But what do I know, now, or when it all ends
I am no better than the sum of all my friends
And fuck it - they are no angels in this hell of ours
Nor are they devils in this dirty paradise.
We're a bunch of old tales in modern silhouettes
But with every passing moment we forget:
Forget we are nothing in the scope of things
So why bother chasing our silly hopes and dreams?
When will we tend to what matters most -
Our Amazon forests and our rolling hills and coasts
And of course - tend to the home within
Which is a metaphor for the home outside our skin
The door to the other and the window to the soul
And for fuck sake people - stop talking about COAL
Hug your mother and your mother earth
Ha! there's a metaphor for your glorified rebirth.
Roses are red and they're a dying breed too
And so are US, my friend, so are me and you.
I've reached the end of the page and my rhymes took hold
I am no perfect I know, but have a heart of gold
That was a metaphor too, the kind you already know
And when I bid farewell my metaphor will grow
Like roots of a tree it will expand
With branches it will embrace this entire land
Or it will be forgotten like the best of words
Or perhaps it one day will be sung by birds
A tale of humans and their blind chase
To look beyond for some empty space
And miss out on earth in all her glory
Never seeing the broad daylight hidden allegory
Poems are here to point us in a direction
Or maybe they are meant to tint us with connection
Connection to something greater than the self
Or perhaps they're meant to stay on the bookshelf
Until a child years from now will pull them down
And draw a face on the cover, of perhaps a clown
A heart, a star, a home
With a crayon - the child will make her own poem
She won't need words to cloud her stride
The child is already open and wide eyed
All us humans can do is hope for her to lead
And perhaps then nature's words of wisdom will finally be freed.
When we come out of the birth canal, the gateway to life, the end of a long road into the fruition of our beings - we see a light. When we catch the glimpse of it in our minute-old eyes - we cry, we agonize, we cringe in horror and only when we feel the warmth of our protector - the mother - we calm down a bit. We let go of the terror and accept our new fate in the new world as we sip on our first meal of milk.
Weeks go by, and we slowly open are eyes more and more, maybe sport a smile here & there, or something resembling a smile, and the gates to hell shift into quite the adventure.
Months later, we are adjusted to this new world.
Years later, we view life as a GIFT, and we fear its end. Sometimes we imagine our end as a tunnel, and at its end - a light. Do we imagine the end, or rather remember the beginning? I wonder often...
There are many times in life when a person may feel like they were 'Born Again.'
We consider going through trials, and challenges, and life sufferings - as a metaphorical tunnel that leads us somewhere. Perhaps deeper into the tunnel, or perhaps through to its final exit. When we choose to see the exit sign and reach the light - and have gone through the hurdle. When we are out and about in our 'new life' - we look back at the tunnel as if it was another life. A PAST life. A finished life. And we are now restored, rejuvenated. We are now grown and have overcome.
My hometown visit in the land of the Israelites (forgive the Biblical term - I may be carried away by the Passover spirit surrounding me...) showed me a glimpse of the light at the end of Corona. Normalcy and life without panic is showing its face underneath the mask.
But I have yet seen - how did we grow?
What did we learn, if any?
Are we through the hurdle?
Are we REBORN?
Will we sift into normalcy and conventions, and forget the gifts of introspection this crisis has given some of us?
IS this really the light at the end of Corona?
And if so, are we really there yet?
Or is this just a passing glimpse and nothing more?
Asking for a friend.
Actually - asking for ALL my friends.
What can we teach a child?
Sure, we can teach a child how to tie a shoe, and when to brush her teeth, and to say 'please' and 'thank you' and 'be kind' and 'share your treats' and 'eat your vegetables' and the ABC and how to count 'till 100. We can teach a child how to talk, and talk, and go sleep at night, and go to sleep at naptime. We can teach a child what is 'right', what is 'wrong', what is 'fair', and what is 'just.'
But what can we learn from a child?
We learn how to see fairies in butterflies, how to make a cake in the sand, how to try to put back together a flower that was picked up. We learn how to change our mood in an instant and how to be in the moment, even when the moment is a deep cry and replaced with a roaring laughter a moment later. We learn how to imagine and dream when we are awake. We learn that people wear masks to hide their faces. We learn to be afraid of the dark and the monster in the closet, and nothing else. Well, maybe also an insect or two. We learn optimism before it was named by us, and courage, and joy and terror and love - before we added stories to them. We learn about innocence and belief and how easily we morph and easily we begin to adopt ideas and create habits. We learn how to play and explore, and discover. We learn that the leaf is more interesting than the Nintendo Wii, that the messy old doll means more than a new one, that attention is the biggest gift of all. We learn when it was that we acknowledged the other. We learn how we've been trying to return to our collective togetherness ever since.
Children may be our greatest teachers.
They teach us how to SEE prior to when we were taught how to see.
How quickly we morph back to how things were.
Us humans are creatures of habit. We long for order, security and safety. We like to KNOW what happened before and what will happen later. We love our planners and calendars and traditions and holidays. We are sentimental and like to compare our past to the present. We like to fantasize on a better future. We like to DREAM BIG and SHOP BIG and FOLLOW the slogans on the subway to whatever shop they lead us to. We like to have more and be more and do more and more...and more. Us humans like to tell ourselves what we SHOULD do and how we SHOULD live. We like our big houses, our white fences, our smart phones, our children, our animals but only when they are pets, our religions but only when they are OURS. We love our flags, our countries, our "tribes", our high-school clicks. Us humans float between consciousness and having the subconscious run through us. So we drink, we party, we do drugs, we take medicine, we do art, we make love, we disappear, we zone out, we escape. So we can feel alive. So we can feel humans. So we can feel SOMETHING outside of our mundane. Our habits are prisons and they are safe havens both at once. We love them, we hate them, we need them, we need to free them. We want safety so we can be free, and we want freedom so we can feel SAFE. We are a mixed bag. A river of contradictions. A tide pool of sharks and tiny innocent transparent beetles. We are here, and we are not. We are visible but we don't see a thing. And we speak but we don't hear each other. Except for those times when we do. Except for those rare times when we do. We like to dream but we don't talk about it. We shy away from talking about the land of dreams. Except when we are children. Nothing stops us then. Us humans like to love. We like to love a partner, or partners, we like to love our families and our friends, we like to love ourselves because make up brands tell us, and poets remind us. Us humans like our flashy watches, and our banks, and our trades, and our planes and our OIL. We LOVE our oil. We love nature but not when it fights us. We love the ocean but not when it rises to warn us. Us humans are blind, and yet we see everything. We don't know a thing and yet we are aware of how hypocritical we are. Us humans know. We know we're shit. And we go on being shit. We know we can do better, and yet we don't. And the ones that do - we call them naive. Us humans laugh at those among us who are naive. We laugh at the best ones among us. We call them children as if we don't know that we were all better humans when we were children. Us humans suck, and us humans rock. We build bridges and end wars, we make music and give awards, we write history books and we change history. Us humans don't learn from history, even when it changes us. Even when it's cruel, and awful, and kills millions of us. Even after a year of a global pandemic. How quickly we morph back. Back to how we were before. Back to B.C. Back to our habits. Back to our illusion. Back to our separation.
Us humans are creatures of habits.
The community I have found and the connections I've made through my listening and speaking on Clubhouse have made me think of the BOND I find myself having with some people. Even when we are worlds apart, and separated by time and space, we are somehow connected through the sound of our voice. Which brings me to the word of the day:
*A relationship between people or groups based on shared feelings, interests, or experiences.
*A connection between two surfaces or objects that have been joined together, especially by means of an adhesive substance, heat, or pressure
*Join or be joined securely to something else, especially by means of an adhesive substance, heat, or pressure.
*Join or be joined by a chemical bond.
I like thinking of a bond as an adhesive tape for people, places, things.
I'll 'stick' to that.
Day 11 in my hometown.
Though really - today was Day 1.
I was quarantined for ten days and today was the first day that I was free to roam the streets and see Tel-Aviv in all its glory. I will not call it glorious per se - the effects of Covid are present with every mask I pass by and the businesses that have closed because of this dreadful year, but there is a sense of normalcy in this part of the world.
Most people in the country are vaccinated, and the number for new Covid patients have reduced drastically, so there is a sense of relief in the air.
I walked more today in the city than I have EVER walked in LA (but then again - this doesn't say much. In LA my sidewalk is the highway, and wheels are my feet) and I have recently associated walking so much with nature, so walking the city streets that was buzzing with LIFE (Yes, really! Remember CITY LIFE!?) was like a new experience. A much needed experience.
But also one I don't need much of... This past year showed me how much I adore nature and I didn't miss busy city life all that much. But for a visit? For a visit it is grand. And knowing that I will be back to my California 'nature' lifestyle soon - is even grander.
But I will come back rejuvenated after spending time with my family after this year has kept us apart for so long. I will come back rejuvenated seeing a city picking itself back up again and knowing it can happen in my city as well. I will come back rejuvenated because I crossed the barriers of fears and TRAVELED this year.
I traveled despite, the fear, despite the risks, despite the complexities.
My family was worth it, and let's face it: Tel-Aviv is just a town.
My hometown? My hometown is THEM: the people who I love and fill my heart.
My family of misfits, of weirdos, of wonderfuls.
How swiftly things change.
Like the sun rising in an instant,
Like a baby crying as it sees the light of day
Like a plant browning when it yearns for water.
Things change and then they change again
To the facade of normalcy
Of the conventional
Oh, when will we crave the unknown,
and the subtle,
and the silence between words?
We post our trophies and call ourselves humble
We speak of mindfulness and don't mind our own business
We yearn for success but don't ever wonder what it truly is for us.
Our book of face bears no face at all,
And our instagram only lives for an instant
And our small talks are hardly ever more than... small.
If I lost you, it is okay.
I lost myself in the chase of my own festival:
Where I can be seen
And cared for
And never alone
Oh, never alone.
But now I know, that I don't know a thing.
And that when one is seen -
It doesn't mean they aren't alone
And when one is unseen -
It doesn't mean that they are.
It truly is simple - this story of life.
We make it more than what it is, because it is a wonder we cannot understand
A magic that we'll never know the trick of.
So we craft,
And convince others of our sanity
But all we know for sure is NOTHING
And all we ever go to is NOWHERE
And that's okay.
Because it can't be anything else.
If you are an avid reader of my blog (the few of you who I APPRECIATE SO MUCH) then you must know by now that I have a complex relationship to my identity and having a sense of belonging. Being an immigrant and assimilating to the U.S has been a never ending journey. But another journey is the one to my prior self, my core self, the Israeli in me.
Today I got to experience my connection to THAT self.
My visit in my hometown was timely: today was the 24th Israeli Knesset election day.
And I got to execute my right to vote for the FIRST time in my life.
So, what was it like?
There was no line, the process took minutes, and all it included was picking a little piece of paper and putting it in an envelope. Simple as that. Nothing was digital and there was no earlier registration form or any such thing. It was easier and faster than ordering juice at the trendy juicery next door. This act of enforcing democracy and choosing leadership to govern a heavily conflicted country resembled how I voted for which boy to dance with in elementary school parties. It may actually have been easier.
I felt joy, pride, and excitement when I picked up the paper with my chosen party and leader: a WOMAN who I've admired for a long time and who I think can bring immense change to a country that desperately needs it. But hey - I am a realist, and I understand that realistically she isn't going to be the choice for most people in Israel. Maybe not now. Not yet. But with more people like me taking ownership of their right, their voice, their VOTE - she, or another inspiring leader, will.
I have hope. After all, democracy is about hope, isn't it?
In Hebrew, there is a slang word for someone who talks too much and too DEEP.
A person who likes to peel the onion, and again, and again. A person who likes to get to the heart of things, the core, the gold. That word is: DIGGER.
It's often a bit judgmental, and may be accompanied with an eye roll towards the said 'digger.' It doesn't exist in every circle, but in some Israeli circles - 'digging' can be unwanted. I imagine in other circles - digging is a noble act and even expected.
My nephew called me a DIGGER the other day.
He giggled while at it - he is an eight year old so he gets a pass for making fun of his aunt - and I took it as a compliment. Actually - I took it as a badge of honor.
Going deep, or trying to get to the heart of things - is like an adventure of the senses, an investigation on the depth of my mind, a journey into understanding more.
If I look at a problem, and REALLY look at it, and ask experts about it, and inquire about it, and maybe experiment with solutions for it, or philosophize about it or just plain old TALK about it - I will reach somewhere.
And that somewhere?
There may be GOLD in that somewhere.
There may be TRUTH in that somewhere.
There may be INSIGHT in that somewhere.
And yes, there may also be a PILE OF SHIT in that somewhere.
But the willingness to dig?
That's the actual adventure.
That's the risk.
That's the journey.
That's why I DIG.
I DIG - to DIG.
So go ahead, call me a DIGGER.
I dig it. :-)
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman