December 17, 2021, Israel
On the way home from my mother's house last night, I bumped into a friend. She heard of my mother's passing and offered her condolences. She had been away on a trip during the Seven Days of Mourning, so this become the condolence visit, a random encounter on the street.
We spoke of my mother's passing, of my work clearing up the house and a lifetime of belongings, a lifetime of memories. We talked about life.
A random encounter on the street.
We talked about coping with loss, about change. We talked about how loss changes us, how life changes us, if we make the effort to change. She commented that I should not be resentful of those who have not made the effort to change themselves, who have not worked on themselves.
I told her how for the sake of my mother I changed my personality, I broke old habits, I became more patient every day, I did things I never imagined I would do. For the sake of my mother I actively broke old habit, I became a different person in a way.
A random street encounter, a talk about life.
And I thought of my late father and my grandfather Moe, two men who struggled with life, who struggled with their own sense of self, of being, who tried to change.
Change is our key to success in life.
We talked about life.
And the evening breeze was chilly and I thought of times past and friends and family long since gone.
A random encounter on the street, on the way home...
I talked about how I learned to say words that used to be very difficult, how I could never say "I love you" to my parents, even though I wanted to. I broke my own habits and I created new habits. I created new paths.
Earlier yesterday our gardener came by. He offered an embrace and a word of condolence. We talked about life. I showed him some "artifacts" I found in my mother's home. We looked at my report card from 7th grade and I showed him the old stamps, yes we had a "Stamp tax" in those days and every document including a child's report card was taxed and stamped.
He looked at the categories: Respectful of school property, A. Arriving at school on time: A. Kind to friends (yes, these were all categories with grades in Israel): A. Personal appearance and neatness of clothing....B.
He commented that not much has changed since then. Sadly I have never been known as great stylish dresser. But then he found my grades, Talmud, Bible, History etc....all very good grades. But sports, a rather poor grade.
He was surprised.
I said, Amit, that is the story of the success of IKI. I am not a gifted athlete, I was at the bottom of the class, but I worked on myself and I created a system of self-defense that works for average people. Many of my students believe that I am a gifted athlete, but I am not. I am simply a person who decided to make a change in himself, and worked at it very hard for a long period of time. This report card from 7th grade proves that.
A chance encounter, a life lesson.
The night grows cold but the conversation continues, and I realize that many of life's dialogues, some of the most profound, take place on such street corners, on chance encounters. I think of Grandfather Moe and Uncle Seymour pacing the streets of Brooklyn tying to find solutions to life's problems.
A chance encounter on the street.
And the conversation challenges me. She says, What is it that made you change? What is it that made you become a different person?
And the answer is because I wanted it badly enough. I wanted to become a different kind of person.
And I think of Krav Maga, of self-defense, and all those who want to be able to defend themselves but somehow can never find the time, or more correctly, the motivation.
I think of friends who have lost a great deal of weight; how for years they were "incapable" of losing weight despite trying every new fad diet, but suddenly, they succeeded. Why? Because they wanted to, they truly wanted to, and so they changed.
It was not this diet or that diet, it was a decision: I want to be a different kind of person.
I read this morning of another young man murdered in Israel. I think of what can I do to make a difference.
We have the tools, we lack only the desire, the desire to change, to change ourselves.
A chance encounter on a street, on a chilly night. Our life is a series of chance encounters.