Quiet Heart, The Illusion of Controlby Andrea Simantov July 26, 2018
This morning, I marveled at the magnificent view from my Jerusalem patio. I’d just washed the floor-to-ceiling sliding windows for the first time in a year and consequently felt a little smug. A vacuum-robot buzzed away in the bedroom, the dishwasher hummed and the washing machine agitated another load of soiled jeans and sweaty exercise togs. A pea-and-barley soup simmered in a shabby pot and the house smelled divine. My husband and I are healthy (tfu, tfu, tfu), my dress-size is diminishing, my children are not in prison and the car is paid for. Life feels good this morning.
Adina loves my coffee and uses it as an unnecessary excuse to ring the bell. Asking first whether or not I am with a client, upon hearing ‘No,’ she presses past and collapses onto a kitchen chair. Her presence is comforting, adding to the peaceful feeling that permeates my home. A civil servant, she has taken the week off for ‘R & R’ and is enjoying unfamiliar daytime hours at home. We are good, good friends and for this I am extremely grateful. I do not have many close friends and we cherish this womanly connection.
Both Adina and I are aware that families in the south of Israel are under siege, the lush fields that surround their homes morphing into charred wastelands, a result of unspecified, unbridled Arab rage. This time, the creative methods of destruction consist of incendiary devices attached to kites or inserted into rainbow-colored condoms. If not for the devastation, it would seem comical. But what is there to laugh about when missiles land in the yard of a Jewish kindergarten 10 minutes before the gates open or Arab babies brandished as human shields, pressed against adult chests for the express purpose of taunting members of the world’s most restrained and moral army? Thousands-upon-thousands of acres of scorched farmland will certainly mean higher-priced produce in a country already buckling under the weight of inflation and, ironically, a spike in agricultural unemployment that will grossly affect the Arabs.
Adding to the economic carnage in the south, there is a heartbreaking situation on our northern border; hysterical families, members of ‘wrong’ sects in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, are begging admittance to Israel. In our hospitals and field tents, they receive real-time sustenance and succor from us, their purported ‘enemies.’ We also know about America’s political and social disharmony and the agonizing family-dramas playing out on the U.S./Mexican border. Angela Merkel is enduring glaring scrutiny, the Russian/Iranian alliance is no longer certain, and George Clooney was in a motorcycle accident from which he brushed himself off and went to work. Israel is experiencing earthquakes that are growing in intensity and jellyfish season is lasting longer than previous years.
Outside of my home’s blessed four walls, I exert little sway on society and to assume otherwise would be arrogant and delusional. Unless in danger of immediate bodily harm, I no longer honk the horn, demand my rights, push ahead in line, mock another’s fashion sense or level of education. The words ‘woulda’, ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’ have been excised from my vocabulary. All of the above makes me feel soiled.
Clean panes of glass enable one to see into other homes. And just as I want a quiet heart and to leave a legacy of goodness in my wake, I believe that my neighbors – both local and global – want the same. This desire to live in a less-tainted and troubled world is unifying. It’s good.
And ‘good’ begins with me. One window and one cup of coffee at a time.