Tuesday, March 9, 2010

before words

May 9

I just realized today that part of the reason I wasn’t able to write for a few weeks is because I was preverbal. As the journey goes with me I have retraced my life as the cells of my body shed off with illness and rubbing against life here. I felt critically the years around 2 for a few weeks as I bumped into everything and kept falling down. I tangled in 8 the days around buying the pink flower umbrella. That now is gone on its own to some other place. The teenage years bump and spin as my identity is tested and wooed by those colorful ones around me. But the deepest and saddest of all came calling last month. Memories have a way of living in our bodies and I have been treated I believe to the early years. The years of crying when you need something, screaming when you don’t get it, and sobbing so completely it takes over your body. A substantial part of our early years are spend crying and kvetching and squirming and reaching and feeling and feeling and feeling every sensation in our little bodies with only the cries and screams and squeals to express it all. We know everything, we came it with it, but we have to develop our nervous systems and our brains and our lives so what we know can emerge.

At this point in my life I believe for sure we come into this world with stuff. My mother can’t be the source of all my suffering. I brought some of it in with me. She is the source of some of it, for sure, my mother. My mother, centuries of being Jewish, and being born in the profound year of 1968 created a little sensitive baby with a big job to do and not the most organized nervous system. The limitations of my human mother commingled fiercely with my strong spirit. And what I experienced recently felt like the sadness of a baby developing a body not strong enough for my soul. I felt the disorganization of my mother and the overwhelming task of being an unexpressed artist with 3 babies and the generational squeeze of maintaining the 1950s home while breaking the work barrier for women. I felt the mismatched task for my father of wanting a simpler and quieter life and being married to an unexpressed artist. Toni Morrison once said that an artist without a canvas is a dangerous person. That’s my mom. And my dad didn’t have a clue. I spent a lot of time with old crying these days and feeling this deep deep old sadness and a grasping attempt to get what I needed with the helplessness of a newborn in an old country or a baby in my1968 family crib. I can feel the overwhelming experience of my mother and my father in the construction of my nervous system. And in the last two months it broke down. The structure around my soul, the system designed to fight or flight or flee has been simultaneously doing all three at once and nothing at all like a baby wanting to get up and get a tissue and some ice cream and not being able to even roll over. I don’t really know how it’s possible to reexperience your life, but I am sure that I am. Making Aliyah at 40 as a soul searching life struggling Jewish clinical social worker with awareness of body and mind and an insatiable curiosity and propensity for insight is no simple matter.

Last year I began deconstructing my life. Last month I began rebuilding my nervous system. Four years ago this March 29th I came to Israel for the first time. My aunt once said to me that she is excruciatingly sensitive, yes, me too. For my mother it scattered her, and my father it took him away to a quieter place. I think as Jews most of us are excruciatingly sensitive. Hey thousand of years of being picked on would make anyone sensitive. It’s our gift to the world and our work. Some of us are better at it than others. In this place the sensitivity of beings is a deeply rooted excruciatingly expressed country. I love it here.

And from here, with my parents safely walking on the boardwalk of Margate City, Jersey, I will rebuild my body so it can be a vessel for this crazy soul and a filter for my spirit.

My spirit came back to me again today

March 5, 2009

My spirit came back to me again today. There is a practice I think of a morning prayer I vaguely remember something about thanking every morning for the existence or presence still of your soul. Havanti. I think I understand. There is a return and sway and return of my spirit that here I feel with the pull and sway of this place. The connection here is so organic with all that exists human and cellular, absence impacts as much as presence. I can feel exquisitely what is missing in me. I wish I could say that about my other home understood absence. Absence is not so noticed. You don’t see your neighbor for a while it doesn’t impact your stride. There aren’t seasonal vegetables most don’t even know. Object permanence is still developing in that country. I think it got waylayed by object relations. Instead of human relations. If the object goes away we don’t look for it, we just get another one. Like babies.

It seems that each month here my spirit challenges me with the daily taunt of holding on to it as it roams around and attaches itself to all the interesting and alluring moments of temptation and familiarity. It attaches to old pains it recognizes in others, it attaches to the wind and the sea, it attaches to the smells and promises of flowers leaving the shuk in the grip of another soul building a home or relationship. My spirit lives on curiously and seeking. My spirit is free to roam. My body is another story and my mind a rat maze chasing cheese. But all my spirit wants is to be free. It’s aware of all the flowers. Maybe life is about staying close enough to your spirit so you don’t get left behind, because it’s playing. Even if you are not.

The culture lives inside out here. You can see it. People walk from the shuk carrying their fruits and vegetable overflowing from see through plastic, they balance babies and packages on bicycles along with rugs and mops and giant bundles of toilet paper that seem to be the trend here. If they are in a car at all it’s small and things are tied on the top out the back over the bumpers, tied with bubble gum or hair pins or PVC piping, or whatever they can find. The sidewalks here breathe. People walk here. And they carry things. And they eat outside and sit in the parks and talk in every crevice there is. They sit on the beach late at night, in tiny parks that litter the neighborhoods and along the sea where the water catapults itself up onto the port to join us and only leaves the shadows of human trash and organic sea matter on the planks of wood as gravity brings the water back to its source through the cracks. Here people eat while they are walking and sing while they are riding and mop their dirt out onto the sidewalk in a decidedly local way of swooping the water from inside to out. They hang their sheets and underwear and air all matter for the sun to cleanse. Here there is much for the spirit to attach itself to. It’s all for the touching. And here you can even touch each other. As a matter of being, it happens all the time.

This last month I think my spirit and I have been roaming in different arenas and I think my spirit is smarter than me. I am brought back again to the essential swap of time and space. Things happen differently here and I think I made the mistake again of trying to make things happen instead of allowing them. I put my head down and worked hard steadily to find work. And only I found isolation. In this inside out culture I need to reorganize from inside and live on the out.

In music the space between the notes holds the magic. In poetry the pause. Here it’s the space between the people, and you have to put yourself in it. For a soullost Israeli but a grown up as American I am a bit squished. My deeply internal inclinations are at one here, but my learned and warped independence creates interference. Sit alone with my computer or socialize my way to a job? My patterns are changing, but the deeply ingrained adaptations are showing their inadequacies here.

This place is filled with old souls and free spirits and even the secular folks here live in close quarters with the sense that there is an energy there that makes things happen . The place is small and almost everyone in it has encountered their soul. War immigration desecration of home and limbs threat to existence death fear insecurity of home and life have been in the pocket of most here. It makes for a different way to live. In the states my natural way of living intuitively and passionately close to my soul didn’t fit with the general man made lifestyle. Here my American independence and sense of personal power are irrelevant. I am allowed for the first time to use my very basic self and I can figure out how.

I don’t want to be an American here. I want to be the person I have been struggling to hold onto for all these years in the face of constant threat. There I had to hold so fiercely onto myself so as not to lose me. Here there is full permission to be myself and the threat to existence happens as a whole. It’s all haffooch here. Here threat is more distant and the distance between people is more threatening. Why is it that what we most want we cannot sometimes handle? Threat to the whole makes the parts closer here. All the close personalities are strong here. Even the weak ones. So the incoming influence of others globs on and the challenge to hold onto yourself becomes because others are attaching to you, they ARE attaching. With their ideas and opinions and foods and invitations, and even for someone as strong headed as me, I find myself turning around to look as see if the person I am being at the moment is me.