This morning I was planning to take the 6 am bus to Jerusalem to spend time with a friend visiting from the States, but I was very under the weather so instead I spent the morning in bed.
Though I felt extremely sick and horrible, this was a good opportunity for me to have some time to reflect. In particular, I thought about the responses to my post yesterday as well as two private emails from blog readers, which all touched on a couple of issues that have occupied a lot of mental space for me since moving to Israel. These came together to become a powerful opportunity to recognize that I’ve been getting caught up in limited thinking that isn’t serving me, and that I need to be more honest about what would better serve me.
Sometimes we know what we want, but we’re afraid to be honest even with ourselves about what we want, because it seems too big or intimidating or out of reach. So we tell ourselves that what we have is what we want. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important to look for the good in every situation that is sent to us. But sometimes we’re sent opportunities to expand ourselves that don’t immediately present themselves as such, and we miss our chance for personal expansion when we decide this is just how it’s meant to be.
Am I being too oblique? Right now where I’m going with this is regarding the limitations of the community in which we live. I currently live in a wonderful community that has many beautiful things about it; I’ve written about the many advantages there are to living here. I recognize that we aren’t an ideal fit with the charedi community because of a couple of key differences in the positions we take, but I’ve found a way to massage our family into the community here.
I like the people here, and I think they for the most part like me. There are lots of nice things about Karmiel – we have unusually moderate local school choices for all of the kids, boys and girls all the way through high school. It’s beautiful and green and affordable. We have lots of parks and a great bus system. I love my home. So it seems perfect for us.
And yet…is this really the best place for us? To live here for me means making a conscious choice to live on the fringe of the religious community, to make choices that are different from those around me in order to stay true to what I believe in. Though there are individuals who have similar views to us, they have all chosen to merge into the standard charedi community. So I have to choose between living in a way that isn’t authentic for me, or to walk my own path. If that’s how it is, I have to accept it and make the best of it, right? Of course.
Or maybe not. Maybe I can admit to myself that there are tens of thousands of people like me in this country – and there are – but they simply don’t live where I live. Maybe I can admit to myself that I’m disappointed to find myself in a social situation that isn’t what I anticipated. And I have been honest about this to myself and in private conversations (though I’ve only slightly referenced it here on the blog). But I’ve focused on finding the good about the situation rather than consider the implications of the current limitations -I’ve been unwilling to consider that a move to somewhere else might better serve my family.
What keeps me from doing that? Fear. Fear of change, of having to start over again. Fear of leaving the familiar. Fear that there isn’t somewhere better, or more honestly, fear that if there is a better place where our family would find a sense of community, we wouldn’t be able to afford living there. It’s painful to see what you want and feel like it’s out of reach.
So this morning I confronted myself honestly- which is why I can tell you all of the above, because this is what I was thinking about – and recognized that I’ve allowed myself to see the current situation as the best we’re going to find. And I told myself, “Avivah, you have to believe that you deserve more and that it’s possible for you to be in a framework that supports you and your family. Not just finagle a way to fit yourself in, but a place where you can truly be appreciated and have like-minded peers for you and your children.”
This is a scary thing to say even to myself, but particularly to put out in the public domain, because I don’t want to look foolish or unrealistic by putting forth a desire that I’m not able to actively do something about. But this process is about recognizing that fears aren’t real, that we give them power by believing the limitations in our minds are true reflections of reality. Recognizing fears is the first step in letting go of them and claiming a better future.
So now it’s out there – I believe there is a better place for my family than where I currently am. I don’t know what that means practically speaking right now, but it’s okay, Hashem does. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to actively appreciate the wonderful things about where I am.