This week has not been the greatest. I’m in the middle of my penultimate month of my Tikkun Olam fellowship here in Israel, and I’m trying to stay in the moment even as I look toward the future. But sometimes, staying in the moment is easier said than done. For example, I haven’t gone to either of my 2 weekly yoga classes because I’ve been trying to use all my free time finishing the scholarship and job applications I’ve started in order to figure out what I’ll be doing come February. Ironically, though, not going to yoga has left me so stressed and unfocused that I have yet to finish one single application!
Things got worse yesterday when I came home from a long day of (boring and frustrating) classes and grocery shopping to find that my laundry room was flooded, the zipper on my new boots was broken, and my laptop (which is only a year and a half old) was no longer working– thus thwarting my efforts to finish projects and get applications in. Plus of course there were dishes in the sink, a dinner to cook, and a hundred tasks to be done. In Judaism, this type of situation calls for an OY VE VOY!
Luckily, I have friends who are amazingly kind and supportive. Miri and Niran lent me their laptops to work on, while Rachel helped me edit a cover letter. But I went to bed exhausted, and woke up early this morning in a cranky mood– about the program, about the lack of clarity in my life, and– I hate to say it– about money. I arrived to my volunteer location at Muzot High School for Artistically-Gifted high school students at-risk, and found that none of the students had bothered to show up to class. After two hours of waiting around doing nothing, I walked home with Melissa and we made a “positivity pact” to stop complaining about the things we cannot change.
That didn’t last long. I came home to try to finish an application, and ended up muddling my resume into a jumbled mess of nonsensical life experiences. I felt frustrated and defeated… why couldn’t I finish one tiny task to move myself forward in life, when I seem to have all the energy and focus in the world to help others achieve? I’m behind on projects, stressed about my next career steps, and confused about whether to stay in Israel or head back to the states where things are not easier, but at least they make more sense. I ended up in tears, standing over a huge pile of dirty dishes, pondering my pathetic existence over a kitchen sink floating with disgusting pieces of soggy food waste. I was late for my next volunteer placement, and lost in my decision to figure out what I’m doing after this semester of Tikkun Olam.
I felt like crap, but knew I had to get myself to the Refugee clinic to help run things. I arrived an hour late, but immediately jumped into action opening files and translating in triage for a patient who was from Cote d’Ivoire and spoke only French. After 4 hours of nonstop filing, translating, and interviewing, I had forgotten about my worries and felt more at peace. I headed home for the night, and on my way thought to myself how lucky I am to be part of a community with such a strong support network of peers. I decided to stop by “Piece of Cake” to buy Rachel a small pastry for helping me with my cover letter.
When I got inside, they were closing. The woman behind the counter told me that for 10 shekels, I could take a whole box of Sufganiot (Hanukkah doughnuts) since it was the end of their evening. I walked home feeling grateful that the kindness shown to me by my apartment-mates had given me the energy to help the refugee patients. That the generosity of the woman at the pastry shop will now allow me to thank my roommates for being there for me. And that the whole chain of kindness has made me feel, well… not so sorry for myself anymore. If only we could channel our pain to reach out and touch others around us in kindness more often. I think it might make the world a happier place.
Happy Hanukkah everyone, and thank you for reading.