Fighting for peace, against the odds

Somewhere in the Palestine Authority.

It is Thursday morning, very early (a little past 6 am). I was hoping for an hour of sleep more but I also feel I should write something. I didn’t do much last week. This was partly because there was no time, partly because I was giving myself some slack on the days that I had a few hours off, partly out of self-protection, sadness and disappointment and – finally – partly because the things that are moving inside me are quite subtle: it is not so easy to describe for me as I’m not completely sure what I’m feeling.

What brought me enormous despair in the weeks before leaving makes me very happy now: the fact that I have taken on the task to search for the 21st Century Warrior. As said in the previous post: I find myself in a difficult but very special place, founded by exceptional people. I would NEVER have come here if I wasn’t consciously searching but were in a ‘holiday state-of-mind’. This place is located next to a highway, there is traffic 24/7, everything is self-built, the level of luxury is just as much below sea level as the Dead Sea (which is far below) and I have to pay (little) money to work, eat and sleep here. Oh, and I sleep outside in a sleeping bag on a mattress on the floor, wearing a t-shirt, a pair of trainers, two sweaters and a hat, under an extra sleeping bag. But look at me know: I’m hanging with people who do important work and I’m able to make a contribution.

Being able to contribute means a couple of things to me: they are not way out of my league developmentally wise, they face tougher challenges than me but they confront them daily which teaches me I can carry my load. They do things that matter and I can contribute to their cause by offering my skills here and there, which makes me feel useful. It shows me that I don’t have to be way more developed than I already am to do something good. It gives me the courage to stay on my path and keep writing too (more about that later).

This place is a meeting point for Israeli’s and Palestinians. All kinds of workshops are being held here. For example, a 9 day workshop non-violent communication and a 3 day workshop permaculture. The founders are exploring what sustainable ways of living are. They try to transmit the love for the land. Everybody in this region is claiming they have the oldest right to live on this land and say they love the land but do they? Do they take care of this precious piece of earth or are they exploiting it like so many other human beings? As co-founder Itamar puts it: the earth doesn’t care if the pesticide or the pollution is Palestinian or Israeli, she suffers just as much.

Being here makes you grow and makes you aware of your blind spots. First: you are outside of your comfort zone because there is no such thing as comfort. Second: everything is recycled and reused in a way that makes you painfully aware of your ignorance and it’s consequences. The toilet is a compost toilet; your shit is reused as manure. The water from the dish-washing system is purified by living bacteria’s before being channeled into the garden, the showers get hot water from solar panels. Last days were overcast. That gives you the choice between a cold shower and no shower. You learn pretty fast how much we take things for granted in our daily Western lives and how normal it is to waste and pollute constantly.

I guess it comes down to 3 basic things: how we take care of ourselves, how we take care of others and how we take care of our planet. Here you can feel and see how that works. There is a daily meditation, held every morning on a central part of the terrain. The food looks and feels like food, comes straight from the land and is unpolished, and is thanked for at every meal. The well being of the planet comes before the desire for luxury of the individual. People make a genuine effort to communicate open and honest but don’t claim to be perfect.

For me it is inspiring. Quite often I felt unsuccessful, misunderstood and/or unheard at home. Here I meet like-minded souls, people who try hard to contribute to change, against all odds. I am not the only one and I’m not doing bad either. It gives me the courage to keep doing what I’m doing. I feel that it is important that their stories are told.

The hardest thing is to not give up. Every time I post something I hope that readers, friends or strangers, will comment so I won’t feel like I am exposing myself to a dark, silent void. But instead of creating more it seems like I am creating less. It brings up doubt in me. But seeing the people work here has made me change my mind. I will no longer hope for more interaction nor will I keep checking the visitor statistics. But I will keep sharing, as consistently as possible. Miles lives in his kitchen, Ilana and Itamar in a tent in the desert. They have given up all their privacy; I can give up more of my need for approval and recognition.


  1. Martijn says

    Yo Atta,

    Ik vind je verhalen leuk om te lezen hoor. Lekker emo af en toe :p maar erg interessant om mee te leven met alles wat je beleeft. Keep it up!

    Message from the void 🙂

  2. suzan says

    toevallig dacht ik gister aan je en ik dacht precies dat wat je nu voelt en meemaakt: hoe zal het met je gaan als de aandacht verslapt?
    keep going schat, het gaat er ECHT niet om WIE er allemaal met je meeleeft en denkt en gaat erom wat JIJ beleeft en denkt.

  3. Panna says

    Beautiful post Atalwin, I really like your last sentence, very nice! When I read about these people, living in nature and recycling things, it really touches me. I feel sadness about all the stuff we are wasting and all the pollution we cause. It’s such a waste…. and it is a lot. I started thinking about my own materialism and waste of stuff because I have a very limited budget right now. It made me think more about the reasons I want to buy more new cloths (I really dont need them actually) and discovered it is partly an ego-thing. I always wanted to buy only organic food but I didn’t do because I thought ” it was too expensive”. Now I did some research, compared prices, made an effort and discovered how I could buy more organic food with a small budget. I learned: if I make an effort, it is possible to live more organic. Also (because it is freezing over here) I make a jar (kruik) every night before going into my bed, instead of wasting the water and trow it away (like I always did) I re-use it. It is really not that difficult…..
    Dear Atalwin, I am happy you decided to keep on posting, I enjoy your posts a lot and I think you make beautiful pictures as well!

  4. Nancy Rodrigues says

    I am tremendously curious as to how the average Palestinian and Israeli really feel about so many, many years of conflict. This blog post gives me hope. P.S I hope you make it to NY.

  5. says

    My husband and I have been reading your posts out loud to each other in the morning over breakfast. The journey to navigate life with fearlessness and grace is universally appealing. Your words encouraged me to read “The Myth of Freedom” by Chogyam Trungpa again. I read it every 10 or 15 years and find it always teaches me more. This time I was taken with the his image of the Lion’s Roar, awareness in all directions that meets each moment with fearlessness. Every moment is workable. May each moment of your journey be workable.
    Thanks for posting.

  6. Els says

    Hoi Atalwin,
    Ik reageer niet vaak, maar ik heb al je posts sinds het begin van je reis gelezen. Het is duidelijk hoeveel deze onderneming met je doet, en het inspireert me heel erg in de voorbereiding voor mijn eigen reis (vanaf september). Je hebt af en toe gevraagd om meer interactie met je lezers, maar ik weet heel vaak niet wat ik moet schrijven. Dat ligt niet aan jou of aan de kwaliteit van je posts, maar dat is mijn onvermogen.
    Heel veel succes en sterkte de komende weken/maanden en keep up the good work.

  7. Michael says

    If you get nothing else out of this then a clearer understanding of the world, and more self awareness of who you are as a person, then it will have all been worth it.

    That you can go places where help is needed, and help them, and then share those experiences with the rest of us is a great service.

    Please be safe in your travels through the middle east. Especially if you do go to Baghdad.

  8. Hermelijn says

    Lieve Atalwin,
    Ik zag het nieuws, en alle ellende in die regio en ik maakte me zorgen om je veiligheid. Pas goed op jezelf. Liefs, Hermelijn

  9. says

    Los van de gelatenheid om vanuit het dichtgevroren Amsterdam te schrijven (schaatsen over de grachten!) is het natuurlijk ook heel mooi juist om jouw hersenspinsels te lezen alsof je een donkere zaal in praat. Veel mooier dan in continue gesprek met je audience. Breekbare liedjes zijn ook altijd eerst voor lege zalen gespeeld. Jouw publieke dagboek. Ik geniet er van en leef met je mee. Geen twijfel dat er nog veel gebeuren gaat. You go boy. Xr

  10. Adinah says

    And the warrior gets up once again! Atalwin, what you are doing cannot be measured. Know, by your witnessing,recognizing others from your place of “basic goodness” recognizing their “basic goodness”, you are weaving people together. Each place you go you bring hope by empowering the other when you so sincerely come to witness, to find the warriors of the planet, and the warrior in each.

  11. Adinah says

    And may you not need to drop your ideals in order to accommodate others ignorance or from fear of lack of acceptance, especially as you travel in parts of the world that are very different from the western mind. I will share with Ohr Eden your journeys. For him, if people cannot accept his spiritual practice such as his side locks, and would kill him for it, its not worth the journey to that place. So you our dear friend, will witness for us. Blessings for safe journeying.

  12. Allaert says

    Dear Atalwin
    Although you dont see or hear me in that great black void,i am loudly applauding and watching
    everery step you make (as far as you let me)
    on your spiritual Odyssee.You are doing great!
    Love + hug

  13. Pim says

    Ouwe, Vriend, Krijger, Wereld reiziger,

    Wat een mooie en goede verhalen heb ik weer gelezen, in de zin dat je veel wijsheid en ervaring opdoet. Hier in Nederland is alle sneeuw +/- weer verdwenen en het ijs is niet sterk genoeg meer om erop te staan. Dingen zijn voor mij afgelopen tijd niet geheel vlekkeloos gegaan, maar daar vertel ik je nog wel over! Ben blij te lezen dat de reis daad werkelijk iets oplevert en dat je een nog grotere inspiratie en drive ontwikkeld.
    Hoop je snel een keer op Skype te spreken en als je een telefoon hebt daar, dan kan ik je natuurlijk ook even bellen!!
    Groet pim


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