August 3, 2016, South Africa - Israel
Airport encounters. Waiting for flights, trying to pass the time. We meet people, get to know them and never see them again, in most cases. But let us not think that these encounters are meaningless, let us not assume that we shall forget them. Sometimes the shortest of relationships can be profound.
If only we could remember them all.
Travelers, everyone is going somewhere. Some are coming home, others are off to a great adventure, some are on a one way ticket and will never turn back. Everyone has a story.
I met a young woman, on her way to a major audition, possibly the start of an acting career. During our layover I read the part for the lead male in the film. Her name was Cindy. She was a model hoping to become an actress. She was full of hope.
I met a man going home to bury his father. I met a woman leaving after a bad break up. We are all travelers in life.
So at the airport in South Africa I meet two people. All three of us arrived hours early for our El Al flight. So we strike up a conversation.
The man is leaving South Africa, he has had enough. He is a professional, a successful man by all standards, but it is not enough. He tells me that in all honesty he is leaving nothing behind. His awards, his diplomas mean nothing to him now. "That is not me, that does not define me". He is on a journey of self discovery, he wants more from life. He wants more of life.
He envies me a little, I am living a life with meaning. I am teaching Krav Maga and spreading home all over the world. I am empowering people and I am seeing great results. He was helping people with tax returns. As important at that is, it was not enough to fulfill him. He needs more.
So he sold everything, left it all behind, and is heading to a new land, a new home, a new language. He has no idea what do to next, but he needs this change.
On my passport I have many stamps, some for entering countries and some for leaving. The entry ones have an arrow pointing in, the exit stamps have an arrow pointing out.
Such is life, some are coming, some are going.
There is an old joke in Israel, it dates back to the early days of the state. Two ships pass each other, one of the new immigrants arriving from Europe with hopes of a new life in Israel free of antisemitism. The other ship is full of Israelis who have had enough of clearing the swamps, fighting off the Arabs and living in constant danger. The passengers from each ship look at each other, shake their heads and say "Meshuga" - Craziness. i.e. what would they be so stupid as to leave/enter Israel.
Those arriving cannot fathom why someone would leave Israel. The world is not a very friendly place for Jews, why leave Israel? The departing passengers cannot understand why anyone would come to such a hard country where war and terrorism are our daily lot. Meshuga, the other must be crazy.
A young woman sits on her suitcase. She too is traveling to Israel but only for a brief visit. She is an Israeli, born and bred. She lives just outside Gaza, lived with the bombings, the rockets from the "poor oppressed" so called "Palestinians". She lived with the world accusing us of genocide for trying to defend ourselves. She served in the Israeli army. She experienced the near impossibility of making a decent living in Israel.
So she tried her luck in Africa and is succeeding. She is making more money than she could dream of in Israel. So despite her love for her country Israel she is not planning on living there. No, she is going home to visit her family and then coming back to South Africa. She is on the outgoing ship, shaking her head, and saying "Crazy", Meshuga to those of us who choose to leave the lands of the nations and return home to Israel.
She is on the reverse journey.
I understand her. I know what it is like to try to raise up your head only to have it pushed down again. I know what it is like trying to make a living when all the odds are against you, when the "system" is designed to keep you down. I know and I understand.
I do not judge.
One is giving up a life of comfort and ease because it is not satisfying while another is giving up a life of meaning but hardship to go and make a nice comfortable living in lands our forefathers never dreamed of.
The journeys of life.
My Journey through life.
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