Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sexless and the Holy City

It was Thursday evening, the end the work week here in Israel. Most of the people in my office had already left for the day, and the lights were turned off in the stairwell. As I was slowly inching my way down trying to get my bearing at every landing, I was struck by how this was so symbolic of my life right now - I can't see what's coming and I'm cautiously moving forward in order to not get hurt.
I finally reached the street, and began my walk home. All the things that had been bothering me, but I was able to ignore while busy working, started to fill my head. These things aren't unique for an olah chadasha - trying to figure out how I'm going to make ends meet while building connections at an unpaid internship. A guy I had been seeing, and growing to like, just informed me he was leaving the country for a while for work, and thought we should put things on hold. And to top it all off, my computer, which is the source of my income, just wouldn't stay on.
Rather than dwell on my problems, I decided to use the time spent walking to calm my thoughts. Any time anxious ideas crept into my head: How are you going to afford this new computer? Will your Hebrew ever be good enough to continue in your career in Israel? Am I ever going to meet the right guy? I would brush them aside, and instead focus on the sound of the cars rushing home. After a while, the intrusive thoughts seemed to have given up, and I was able to appreciate how musical the traffic could be. The chimes of the light rail, the cacophonous car horns, the accelerating and breaking of the cars; it was actually quite relaxing.
I found myself in the middle of the suspension bridge in Jerusalem, looking out over the cars coming into and going out of the city. Not having to hurry home, I decided to stand there and just watch the river of vehicles flow by. After a few more minutes of just being and not thinking, an idea popped into my head. One of my dear friends here had been struggling recently with making G-d's will her will. She was also worrying about how she was going to support herself after making aliyah, and being in her 40s, if she was ever going to have kids of her own. She had been going through her own rough couple of weeks, but one day I noticed a change in her attitude. I had to ask, what happened? "I threw up my hands and said 'Hashem, Your will is my will.' I figured that if I gave up holding on to what I want my life to be, and just accept it for what it is, I'll be a lot happier. And I am!"
I whispered into the night, "Hashem, I don't know why you decided to send this guy away when I felt like things were getting promising, or why it was necessary for my computer to break. All I know is that I trust you, and there is no point trying to fight what happens in life." I stuttered as I tried to say the next words, and as I let go of the last remnants of my stubbornness, I shed a few tears, "I want my will to be Your will. I do. Instead of fighting against the tide, I'm going to just go with the flow." I stood there for a few more minutes until I had regained my composure, and resumed my walk home.
As I was coming down the other side of the bridge, I noticed an outline of an older woman ahead of me, unsteadily trying to make her way to the next light-rail stop. I asked her in the best Hebrew I could muster if she wanted help. The look of joy on her face completely melted any other feelings I had been dwelling on. As we slowly made our way, she talked to me excitedly in Hebrew and French. It was hard for me to understand it all, but we managed to exchange some small talk, and even some bits of Torah. We eventually made it to the station, and I told her that I would wait with her until the train comes. She gave me many blessings for good things in life, and pinched my cheeks as she said the man who gets to marry me is very fortunate. Then the train doors closed and she was gone.
 It took me a moment to appreciate what had just happened. I found my demeanour had changed - gone were the feelings of despair, which had been replaced with warmth and even a self-impressed smile that I was able to follow her heavily accented Hebrew. Once again, I was on my way home. I didn't feel so helpless and adrift anymore: whether it's with dating, work, or even my computer staying on, I can relax, because Hashem is in control. And when you just relax and go with the flow, you never know what might float by.