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.