January 09, 2005

The Choices We Make In Life- I could have been In Israel

Life is all about choices and then living with those choices. I am a dreamer, a person who is given to extended flights of fancy, a cloudwalker, a man who often stands with one foot planted on the ground and the other stepping out to chase the moon.

I have tried hard to live my dreams, to follow the road not taken and to see where it leads. It hasn't always been easy for me. Change is something that frightens me, yet thrills me. I have a wild wanderlust, a desire to get in the car and just drive.

Every time I hear Springsteen sing the beginning of Hungry Heart I get this feeling that he is talking to me:

"Got a wife and kids in baltimore jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back
Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going"

Now, I would never just leave, I could not do that and I would not. But it is a lie to say that I haven't thought about just getting in the car and driving until I run out of gas. I wonder where the road would lead. I could end up in Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco or Dallas, who knows.

It is a conversation I have had with many of my friends. Most of us have been married for between seven to 15 years and almost all of us have young children. This is not to say that we run around feeling unfulfilled, but it is a busy hectic life, punctuated with few moments for us and our spouses and many for our children.

There is so much joy and pleasure in watching my children enjoy themselves, but sometimes you need time to focus on yourself and I certainly am someone who requires a fair amount of personal time and space.

This weekend a good friend and I discussed life and where it has taken us, whether we were happy where we are, could we be happier and if so what would it take. What costs are involved in trying to improve our lives and what risks are we willing to take to get there.

Earlier I wrote about trying to live my dreams and not just fantasize about them. To some extent I think that I have had some success in doing that. But there are still a few that have eluded me.

I have never gotten over the Summer of '85. It is almost 20 years now since I first went to Israel. The first Intifada had not yet begun, Oslo was just a place in Norway, the Rockies were a mountain range, the Marlins were just fish and I was a 16 year-old boy who fell in love with a woman, a city, a country and a dream that I still have trouble vocalizing.

That summer I vowed to make the move to Jerusalem and find out if it was a place to live or visit. I tried to get there a number of times. My freshman year of college I was admitted to Hebrew U but did not have the money to make it happen. Fell in love my sophomore year and decided to skip the junior year abroad. Made basic arrangements for a job and a place to stay in 1995 and ended up getting engaged before I could make the move.

A couple of twists here and there and I could have been writing from 10,000 miles away, who knows.

Then again, I was supposed to be in Manhattan the week of September 11, 2001. If the economy hadn't tanked before that I might have been there. Would I have been in the WTC? Probably not, but maybe, I did have a couple of clients in each tower.

I have a number of other could have, should have, would have stories. They make nice tales and they have their time and place, but I don't want to become the man that lives in what could have been, but what could be.

I can be "what could be" because that man is working towards the future and even if he doesn't live out all of his dreams he is a participant in life and life is meant to be lived.

4 comments:

Barefoot Jewess said...

I certainly can relate to what you are saying. In my case, I divorced, and I just recently returned from Israel. This would have not happened if I had stayed married. But my story is vastly different from yours.

I think the longings you experience are a good thing. It means that you have desire and are engaged with life, the spiritual especially. And even though the dreams may be postponed, it does not mean that they cannot be realised later on. Surprisingly, this is what has happened to me. I have had a lot of dreams come true, though those dreams have been very, very small and personal and would seem insignificant to others. For me, they are definitely by G-d's grace.

I don't think this is a matter of "the grass is greener" syndrome. I think sometimes our soul speaks to us of worthy things. And those worthy things do not mean separating from those you love, but rather, to keep those things in mind during our daily duties because you never know when a door will open, or a chink of light shows the way, and it will all come together and you will see it. Maybe the time is not now, but it does not mean that that time is lost forever- I think that all things that dwell in G-d, dwell in possibility. Such is the glory of true life.

foxymama said...

Barefoot Jewess is so wise. She says things which bear strong reflection...

I do so enjoy your contemplations of the vagaries of life. If you were to write a book I would buy it and read it and probably re-read it. The thing which always astonishes me when I read your sensitive ruminations is that you are a thirty something Jewish male and I am a 59 year old non-Jewish female and yet I feel you are reaching into my head and heart to write. I still find that amazing! So often do you write of things which I am currently reflecting upon that it's almost frightening. Wonderful thoughtful post, as usual, Jack.

Jack's Shack said...

I don't think this is a matter of "the grass is greener" syndrome. I think sometimes our soul speaks to us of worthy things. And those worthy things do not mean separating from those you love, but rather, to keep those things in mind during our daily duties because you never know when a door will open, or a chink of light shows the way, and it will all come together and you will see it. Maybe the time is not now, but it does not mean that that time is lost forever-BJ,

I really liked that, it makes a lot of sense, but it is hard to have such an "amibiguous" description of when these things could come about.

Foxymama,

I just write about what I feel. I don't think of myself as being different than any other human, just a little bit more verbal about things.

foxymama said...

Oh, I didn't mean that you were any different than any other human... In fact, the only reason I mentioned the "differences," was to exemplify how much the same we can be. Yes, you are a bit more verbal about things but you're often eloquent in your expression and that also was what I was alluding to. Or more simply put, how often you so ably express what's going on inside me at a given time astounds me in that someone else could be thinking along such parallel lines at the same time as me and expressing them so clearly...sort of deja vu. ~:^)