Wednesday, September 19, 2012

L'Shana Madhima

To an amazing year.

The Jewish New Year has just passed and I have had quite the interesting few weeks worth of thoughts so I will sum up the end of 5772, last year, and start off with a bit of 5773, the new year, in this post.

While I was in the states I passed my one year mark in the IDF. It came and went as any other day, barely mentioned and overshadowed by my birthday which was two days prior. I didn't expect anything different, and I almost forgot myself that I was passing the momentous occasion. When I enlisted I planned on enlisting for a year, and only after 13 months did I begin to realize how important it was that I chose to stay in for longer. I had a few epiphanies after passing my year mark, that I am certain that every other Israeli soldier has had by month two of their service, if not by day two. I will try to explain. I chose to enlist, making serving in the army my choice, something I wanted to do, free will. Well, oddly enough it took me 13 months and a few days to have my first "ahah" moment where I realized that it wasn't a choice anymore, it was something I had to d whether or not I wanted to, and it had been that way since the day I enlisted. This thought came about as I was talking to my boyfriend on the phone one evening from a base I was visiting for the week. He is also in the army and sometimes I get frustrated that I can't see him as often as I'd like to. During this pre-bedtime conversation I was feeling particularly sad that I hadn't seen him for a week and a half and I was only going to get to see him for two days before we parted ways again for another two weeks. I thought to myself..."well what if I don't want to go back after the weekend...what if I just don't go back" my more realistic self answered my rhetorical question "you have to lauren, you have no choice." Funny how that works, I have had "no choice" (I could, essentially, 'choose' jail over going back..) for a year, yet it took this long for me to realize that someone else had control over me, that I had, no, choice. If I had been release after a year, I, personally, would never have had this annoying yet very important milestone in my soldier career. It is, after all, part of the 'giving back' and doing something that is 'not just for me'.

After a short few weeks of my army relationship being on the rocks, however, I had another few epiphanies that have since turned things around. (here is the part where we go in to the new year feeling   a refreshed and excited new energy)
At a ceremony on base something made me turn to one of the girls I serve with and ask her if she moved to Israel or just came to do the army. I knew I had asked before but I couldn't remember the answer. "I moved here" she answered. To which I replied with another question, "so you mean you're intending to stay here after your service?" "Yup, that's the plan" she boldly replied, with a small sense of hidden nervousness. Somehow this short, very typical, exchange opened my eyes. It was as if I was looking at myself in a mirror. I found myself thinking...look at this girl, 20 years old, moved to Israel after high school to join the army and is planning on living here for the rest of her life, what ever brought her to this point, what a crazy yet special life path, you go girl! Then it dawned on many times had people asked me these same questions, how many times had I thought about the answers (and thought about not thinking about the answers as well, because sometimes I feel like its just too much to think about and I need to take things as they come, I can't plan out my whole life yet, I'm 24!) People often tell me how proud they are of me for what I did, how much they admire me, how bold and adventurous and how important it is, how grateful they are for people like us, those that chose to move to Israel, etc, etc. I, of course, thank them and respond with something simple like "thank you" because I don't know what to say. I don't look at it as they do, I don't think it's that brave or bold, crazy or admirable, to me it's quite normal...normal is partially defined as what we ourself do anyway, isn't it? To me it's the only "mid 20's" life I've ever know, and ever will know. Talking to my friend however, finally gave me an insight into the other is a pretty amazing thing that we're doing, and I need to get back to remembering that. At the end of the ceremony the "Hatikvah" was sung, the Israeli national anthem, and just as always happens when I'm on uniform listening to the anthem, tears ran down my face. I felt overwhelmed with the beauty of where I was standing, with whom I was surrounded, what I was doing, the words I was hearing (and understanding!!), the language I was speaking, and the life I was living. How could I have taken this all for granted? I thought. Of course I wanted to go back to the army after my weekends at home, who wouldn't want to put on that uniform and have the opportunity to do that job. Who wouldn't want to live the life they had never in a million years pictured for themselves but couldn't be happier to be living it right now. I never even imagined that there was a place in the world with so many Jews and now I was a part of the military defending those people, and that place.

I'm bringing this positive energy and renewed insight back to my job and coming back with a fresh outlook. I will gladly serve for another year, I just got caught up in the wrong type of thinking for a few weeks.

L'shanah tovah, to a good year, may 5773 be another great year filled with peace, adventure, growth, health, love, laughter, and inspiration for all of us, no matter where in the world we find ourselves this year :)

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