Sunday, August 28, 2005

Shalom

In today's Hebrew the word shalom ("peace") is used as both a greeting and a parting word. It's "hello" and "goodbye". When I started writing this blog, I named it Shalom Israel because I was saying hello to my new country. I could have very well also called it Shalom North Carolina.

Since arriving here, I have had the opportunity to say shalom for the first and last time a lot. One of the interesting things about Jerusalem is that there are many people from all over the world that just come to study for a year, six months, or even for less time. Mainly I've met people from the US, but I've also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of people from Australia, the UK, France, Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Italy, Canada, and Spain. Some folks I met through ulpan. Some of them I have worked with during my volunteer work. Others I met at parties or other social events. I've made meaningful connections with some of these folks and it has been hard to see them leave.

I was prepared to put in work to make new friends, but I wasn't prepared for the transient nature of Jerusalem. It's hard for me to invest in the friendship if I know that the friend is going to be leaving just when things start getting good.

Here's a quote from Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck:

One of the Four Noble Truths taught by the Budda was that any permanence we perceive, in ourselves or the world around us, is an illusion. Clinging to that illusion, trying to force things to stay as they are, leads inevitably to suffering.

I guess that I am learning this lesson. It seems like when whole time that I have been in Israel not one single thing has stayed the same. The folks that Yaacov and I hung out with when we first got here - well, we don't see them much anymore. I have deleted about as many phone numbers from my phone as I have put in. The pace of the change seems overwhelming and I wasn't prepared for that.

Every person I meet asks me, "What's it like for you to live in Israel?" What I would answer this week is that it's great to meet cool people from all over the world, but it's a damn shame that I have to say goodbye so often.

So here's to gazing in the river - and realizing that no moment - no matter how sweet - can last.

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