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Life is hard work and other things that make me feel tired, but alive

I am struck by the pictures my friend Holly is sending back to us from Hong Kong and Vietnam.

See more http://instagram.com/theculturemom
See more http://instagram.com/theculturemom

She’s feeding her wanderlust with banana pancakes, dim sum, and gorgeous panoramas, while feeding our desire for travel photography “porn.”

I love instagram.

Almost in the same moment that the drool drips down my chin,  while mesmerized by the lush green mountain ranges and Buddha statues, I long for the eyes through which I saw Israel in the first months I lived here.

The virgin immigrant eyes.

The virgin immigrant heart that burst with joy each and every day…at the beauty of this land; in curious awe of her people.

Cochav Hayarden, March 2012
Cochav Hayarden, March 2012

When we first made Aliyah,  every drive was emotionally equivalent to a stroll through an art museum; every hike through a national park was a new adventure in a foreign land.

Every day I would find myself saying out loud: “Do I really live here?”

And I meant it in the same way a mother whispers over her newborn baby, “Are you really mine?”

Two years after making Aliyah, I find that my eyes and my heart are still capable of wonder.

But  it’s an experience that does not come as naturally and as automatic as before.

I need, instead, to make those moments happen.

And that takes a lot of work on my part.

I need to see the trash fire in Kfar Manda

smoke in kfar manda

— and turn my anger into compassion, and then activism.

And that’s really hard.

It’s much easier to be angry.  To rant. To shake my head.

I need to remember, in a moment I feel frustrated by my community, when I am outraged by their seeming indifference to the trash that peppers our fields

how grateful I am for my community.

How my community supports me.

How my community allows me the freedom to be a Jew in Progress. To be curious. To be a novice at living in this country.

Acknowledging my community as a gift, however, is really hard work when I am stuck in a moment of discontent.

It’s much easier for me to assume. To judge. To wish myself away from here.

It’s really hard work — and a huge emotional commitment — to be present in your life all the time.

To notice. To stop. To redirect. To be who you want to be, not your raw-emotion-of-the-moment.

It’s exhausting — living your best life.

It’s much easier to feel alive when you are on vacation — separate from the drudgery that often clouds your intentions.

It’s much easier to feel alive when you are first in love; experiencing a newness; your senses overwhelmed by glorious colors and smells.

I recognize this.

And I acknowledge that some days I am too tired to live my best life.

But on the alternate days — the ones in which I work hard for happiness, the ones in which I allow my heart to be open and my mind to be free — I find beauty that surpasses any landscape, any painting, any colorful market scene.

A vacation awaits me.

In my regular boring life.

And yours.

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