Even for a blessing, this week’s is special. Most of y’all sent me blessings early on in the year, with a few others trickling in here and there. (On that note, if you’ve thought about it and haven’t sent one yet, this is the time. I’m running real low here. Not to be greedy or anything– if I don’t end up receiving 40, I’ll just start sending my own blessings out to y’all instead– but it’d be lovely to share your words instead of mine.) This week’s blessing came from an RRC classmate relatively early in the year. I don’t remember exactly when, but it was sometime last fall. However, unlike every other blessing, which showed up in a card or an email or a Facebook message or some other form that I could access right away, this one came as a google doc with instructions: Open “at a time where you feel like the task in front of you is huuuuuuuuge and OMG what.”
There have definitely been times over the course of the year where I felt that way about various tasks before me, but I always saved this blessing, until today I felt like I truly needed it.
The last six weeks or so since getting to Yafo have been so lovely. Maybe that’s why facing down an uncertainty now feels like a more abrupt difficulty than facing down similar uncertainty in Jerusalem. It feels like a bigger shift. Things there were always a little less settled. Things here have felt more relaxed until this new worry came in. I don’t want to talk about specifics right now. Hopefully this will all clear itself up soon. But, right now, I’m balking.
It doesn’t help that I’ve finally shifted from feeling quite introverted to feeling more extroverted…at the exact moment when I’m looking at 4 days straight without class and with most of my friends in Jerusalem while I’m up here. When I’m feeling extroverted and don’t have folks to extrovert with, I tend to get pretty insecure pretty quickly. (At least I know myself.) The next few days are likely to be difficult, and depending how things go I could be entering a longer period of uncertainty. I don’t know yet. I hate not knowing.
I went for a beautiful walk during a patch of sunshine this afternoon. It’s supposed to be muggy and stormy over the next few days, so I wanted to get a burst of outdoor time. I’ll get more in an hour or two, when I head way uptown to a friend’s for shabbat dinner. I’m looking forward to being with people tonight, and I hope to have the opportunity to connect with folks back home more over the next few days.
For now, I’m just trying to hold a lot of presence and gratitude. This week has also been amazing, and easy as it is to let anxiety crawl over the good so that it’s hard to see, I know I have much to be thankful for. More to come on that count soon enough.
In his google doc blessing, my classmate told a story from his own life and then opened it to meet me. I won’t include all of his beautiful words, but these two paragraphs are ones that I will hold to in the days to come. Interestingly enough, I think they connect as much to the good and new in my life as they do the potentially bad and new:
I wish for you that you embrace that spirit of balking. Of feeling like you’re ill-prepared. Maybe you are in some tangible way, or maybe in some less tangible way. But hell, you’ve got grit and perseverance, and a few more stamps in your passport than most. You know how to stick it out, and make the crazy into the familiar. Balking is part of the process of incorporating new things, finding out who we were, and who we’ve become. This moment before the plunge is shockingly scary, and also a bit sweet. You’re never as well prepared as you’d like to be… but I trust that since you’re smart and wise, you will be as prepared as you need to be. And once things get going, the rest of the way down is observing your surroundings keenly, listening to your instincts, keeping a cool head, and heaven forbid, quick reflexes!
So Emily, I send you blessings for the moment of balking. I wish for you that in a moment of “what is this where am I omg how am I going to do this”, you find strength in remembering who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and even what you’ve been through. I wish you serenity in feeling ill-prepared, and knowing that you still have a great deal under your belt. I wish you moments of stillness and quiet in anxious situations—I believe that God speaks to our instincts as we pause and just circulate air. Respiration works. True, the Russians may believe that there is no amount of breathing that will make you prepared to pass beyond, but the breath itself is sweet and enough while we’re still here. Let that be its own anchor.
I live on the sea now. I can’t hear the waves from my apartment, but I don’t have to walk far at all to be able to. Every day, the waves drift in and out, sliding with the moon, growing and ebbing in their strength. The waves breathe. May my breath and the ocean’s prove an anchor.