Monday, April 18, 2011
A Faith Filled Passover Edition - My/Our Four Years of Freedom
On the last full day in Israel before leaving for the States in 2007, I made sure my last day would be a peaceful one by visiting my parents. I was all jumpy not only from all the preparations, but from the emotional and mental exhaustion of it all.
Because I/we made the conscious decision to leave my family, friends and kibbutz home for greater professional opportunities in the States, I thought to myself, "There is just no way that move is going to be wrong. If it's the States, then, it's got to be good!" (Sounds like a commericial, right?)
At that very moment, I felt I had transformed my life in a precision of dualities.
I had "traded" the feeling of being dried up like a prune, to touching an oasis for the first time and what opportunities would lie on the other side of that oasis. I wanted to make my own life choices that reflected the person I had become. After all, I had moved to Israel fresh out of High School, and I was now married and had a two year old; My soul was craving for other opportunities beyond just an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher of Israeli schoolchildren, which I had done for already 12+ years.
In front of my father, I felt a mountain of crushed dreams fell over me.
He came to Israel for us, for me and my younger brother, to give us a better quality of life, to help us get away from my controlling and aging mother who was afraid of many things from me smoking, to walking around in a sweater in 80 degree heat. But I felt I had outgrown those phobias and I had acquired a stronger sense of self. It was time now to move on.
As much as I believed in the power of the American dream, for some reason, I came across to my father that I didn't "need" Israel, his support or my life there.
He took this as real snobbery and self-righteousness on my part.
I remember one of his last lines to me well, "You act as if you're not coming back."
Now, I don't know if where that reaction came from - all I knew was that I wanted to be in some "green" place on the other side of the Atlantic ocean so I could prove to myself, the "little ol' me from Greenwich Village, NYC" that I could put the wheels of the American Dream into motion and that it truly would be a better choice for me...for Haim, and little Ivry.
Well, I'll tell you that finding my heart to professional freedom was not the rosy garden as I thought it was on that last sunny day in Israel.
In fact, walking down picturesque streets in Pittsburgh's Jewishy Squirrel Hill on a hot sultry August afternoon in 2007, triggered off a strange kind of "freedom" - one that made me feel even more uneasy.
I felt very vulnerable walking down these beautiful streets alone. During those very early days, I would meet my husband after his job search and "attack" this poor man with my fears - "when are we/you going to get a job?" "When is your social security card going to come?"
Lots of "What if's."
I didn't think that nudging was such a problem; but, it was the way I had put a "time limit" on when things should happen (first with him, then with me) that scared me. In Israel, I did not think this waiting would be issue. All I needed to do was jump head first into the oasis, and try to float with the hope and knowledge that we would thrive and fast.
Similarly to the Passover story we know well, Moshe led the Jewish people out of Egypt, but even after their ordeals and struggles and pain from Pharoah's blows, they still questioned whether they would be "saved" and whether they should still put their faith in just one man, and in G-d. All they could do was have a "leap of faith." Obviously, they did not have a choice, but I did and I chose to not to develop faith in times of uncertainty. I just thought of the "path."
You see, I had this warped building freedom for opportunity mindset that things had to come easy if I worried. Of course, these were old words, thought patterns and beliefs, but I was in transition and with all the newness, I stuck to what I knew. So I followed my own smell to worry and fear.
In the meantime, my husband got a job within a week at one of the local food chains and within a year, was promoted to full-time with benefits.
During my sabbatical, I started a book journey that would lead me to market myself as a speaker to present at both universities and colleges and schools and eventually, an offer from a K-12 book publisher came in through. It was only through my writing, I found there were other opportunities and other identities that awaited me.
And now, just now, I'm realizing at age 40, that I need to ride a spiritual journey. That is one ingredient that I never really thought I needed. Until now.
And that was just the beginning of finding my tribe. My spiritual one, that is.