past midnight memories

October 4, 2022, Israel


New York City, a city of many diverse neighborhoods


It is long past midnight and the mind wanders, faraway places, memories long since buried, people who are no longer among the living, a life that was but it is only a memory, the sounds of imagination, steps on long forgotten journeys. Such are sleepless nights. 

Sometimes when dreaming of a future, we forget to live in the present. For me it was always future goals that mattered, and only now can I revisit the past with a fuller appreciation. And it comes back to me in strange ways, unexpected and without warning, and suddenly I am on the subways of New York and Brooklyn, looking at the people, wondering, daydreaming, thinking of loved ones. I am coming home late from university, or from the dojo in Manhattan, the Oyama dojo, full contact Karate. The lonely subway ride home, always paying attention, after a while it becomes like home, faces of strangers, become familiar, each person is a story, each person has a dream. Each person is going home after a long day of work, after a day of dreams.

Blacks, Asians, Jews, Hispanics, Polish, Russians...everyone came here with a dream, something else...I am pursuing an education, a hope for a future, an unknown, I am also training hard and dreaming of someday earning a black belt. Pursuing a degree in Economics, studying late at night in a rabbinical college, training in karate, hardly time for a relationship. Life. One day at a time, one step at a time. We all have a story. 

And suddenly so many years later and I am once again on the subway, late at night, alone but not quite alone, I know that far away my parents are protecting me with their endless love, and once again I am a young man with a dream, my whole life ahead of me, I am on my way, but I don't know where I am going, not quite. 

Walking around New York City late at night, becoming accustomed to the night life, learning the ways, where to go, what to watch out for. a friendly man offers a bag of some white powder, a young woman asks me if I want a "date", it is all so new, and different.

Late at night and each step is tiresome, and finally on the subway, going home, but what is home?

We all have our life bruises. 

Looking back, pursuing my training at the Oyama dojo, I realized the importance of self-defense in this life. Strangers everywhere, some are kind, most are immersed in their own inner world and don't even take notice of you, another young man with a dream. But others could present trouble, we need to learn to survive. My day begins early with training at the dojo, and often ended the same way, in between was work and school. Memories, images, faces, smiles...

and it all disappears so quickly as we look for our path...a chance glance, a thought, a smile, a young man becomes an old man, an experience becomes a memory, vague and blurry. An old man wonders, where did it all go? Where have all the people gone, a thousand faces, a thousand different dreams, where did they all end up. 

It is long past midnight and sometimes our reality changes, is time travel possible? Is time linear? Can you exist in two times at once? A man laughs in the Yeshiva on Coney Island Ave. Saiko Shihan Oyama enters the class and smiles; Sensei Romero offers a word of encouragement. Carmen smiles and says it will all work out, Sunshine will appear, Johnny welcomes me as Brother Moe, he is a true friend. Where is he now? The subway walls flash before me, I am on the train ride, on the way "home". And I wonder where Home is. 

Can we capture a moment, or are we always in too much of a hurry? and where is she now? I must get up early for karate class, the Uchi Dechi will be there to open the door. It will be cold but who cares. let the snow stick to my beard. And that beard has gone grey and white, and many are no longer. And I wonder, can we disturb the past? And the subway posters are still there, and I am thinking it was a good class, I had a good fight. 

But can the world be silent? We must claim our lives, and we must take control. The black belt dream has been fulfilled. but yet the past is never ending, and the goal is still there, one can never be complacent, the journey is still one, and we must keep struggling. and late at night voices came back to you, some living, some no longer, and we wonder, we reconnect. There is so much beauty, if we look. Let's not run so fast that we miss the journey. Forever young. 


New York City, training with world Muay Thai champion Phil Nurse. 

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