Twenty-six years ago I spent the summer in Israel. It was a transforming moment for me in more ways than I can possibly list in a short blog post. It ranged from being evacuated from a forest fire to developing incredible friendships. Some of them are people that are still part of my life and unfortunately some of them aren’t. Much of this blog covers moments from that summer or experiences that are directly related to it.
When I think about that summer I remember the 16 year-old boy who fell in love with a country as a whole and a city in particular. Drop me anywhere in Jerusalem and I can find my way around with ease. Some of that is due to the visits that came afterwards and some can be attributed to my having etched the streets upon my heart.
That summer of 1985 is when I began to dream of the life I wanted to live in more realistic and concrete terms than my dream to play left field for the Dodgers or power forward for the Lakers. That summer of 1985 is when I began to realize that some of my dreams could be lived, but only if I made them happen. Even though I knew that that it was my responsibility to follow through I think that it took a little bit longer for me to realize how much was contingent upon my own efforts.
And now I find myself at a few weeks short of 42 lost in a world that I once lived in and fighting to get back to it.Â And now at a few weeks short of 42 I ask myself the hard questions and wonder what I am willing to do to break free of the place that I am in. I stare at the face in the mirror and see hard eyes looking back at me. Silent accusations wash over me and I am forced to acknowledge and embrace my failures and shortcomings. This place I am in, it is something that I built. This place that I am in- I own it.
But I also acknowledge that it is not all bad nor completely emblematic of failure. It is peppered with success and triumph. There are more than a few trophies lining these shelves. Maybe I am not really fighting to get back- but fighting to accept where I am. i hear voices in Hebrew speaking to me. They say “yeeheyeh tov”Â and I respond with a silent b’seder.
Out on the basketball court I run myself into exhaustion. Some of the guys complain that I play too hard and too rough. I smile and tell them to get off the court. We jaw back and forth. They have more talent and natural ability than I do. I play hard because I have to compensate for the talent I don’t have. I throw myself on the floor chasing the ball but really I am chasing some of my own ghosts too. I am seeking balance and working to forgive myself for the things that I feel I did wrong.
Later the boys and I gather together. Under the clear blue skies and the warmth of the California sunshine we exchange stories and grunt at each other. We are men who wear a million hats. All are fathers. Some are married others are divorced. Some are somewhere in between it all.
Dark sunglasses hide my eyes but they don’t hide the look of disgust on my face.Â They know that I am in the midst of turmoil and tumult and ask pointed questions. I meet their questions with one of my own. Are we living our dreams or dreaming our lives. It is not new age bullshit, not to me. It is among the most important questions that I have ever asked myself.
Seconds later I am lost in thought. I am walking the streets of Jerusalem again except I am not 16. This time I am 29 and I hear my silent promise to myself to find a way back for more than a visit. A smile flits across my face and I remember again the contradictions of who I am. I am quite impatient for some things but exceptionally patient for others
The journey I find myself on is a bit longer than I would have thought- but every day I find myself closer to my goal. I may spend a few moments lost in my dreams but every day I take steps to turn them into my reality.