Title: Awoken in Alaska
I have awoken early this morning, it's just after 4 o'clock. It seems I was dreaming of a conversation. I remember the subject of "what do you do?" I can't remember with whom, but the question disturbed me.
PLEASE SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH ON 1ST READING: - I'll try to answer that question as directly as I can now (at 9:30 am): I practice personal well being, which is an ongoing learning, I learn and earn trust in relationships, through a shared process pointing towards mutual understanding, which I call the development of social network currency, as I work to bridge my own diversity of experiences and perspectives while I participate in a wider diversity of overlapping cultures. I am not looking for a job title at the moment. I warned you not to read this paragraph on your 1st reading!
I am on a large boat, a "pleasure craft". We are in Southern Alaska, anchored among the islands, on the Northern Pacific Ocean. (No really... this is not a dream.) There is an old cannery on the shore. There doesn't seem to be any activity but there is an old cabin with smoke rising from it in the day time and a red light by the door at night. I have eaten well and had plenty of rest. The water is very calm. A mist hangs in the pine trees. The trees grow straight on very steep mountains, rising in every direction. The old dying warves and fishing buildings look like a strange fiction in the plain sight of far more ancient but living nature. Life here is growing and climbing above the water line and moving at various layers at its surface level and deeply below it.
I'm on the boat with my 10 year old daughter, Mayah, who is visiting me from Israel, during her summer holidays. We are both visiting my just starting to retire parents, Miriam and Michael. It's my parents new boat and my first time aboard. There is Tracy, who is a chef and domestic helper and the captain of course, Tracy's partner, John, of many years. John has had some 30 years of experience with managing big boats like this (and their city slicker, land lubber, vacationer occupants). Our conversations have meandered around our food and activities. Sometimes we provoke each other with the diversity of our world views, with our sharing and our realty comparisons.
It seems Tracy and John must both have some 30 years experience with small living conditions, shared by several people for several days at a time. Even a large and luxurious cruiser like this seems like a pressure cooker to me. For me, in my relationships, with my family, we would usually avoid a conflict, especially one that would last for more than an hour. Yet, here I am after several days, with the lingering effects of our interactions and conversations. It's not all conflict but it's cooking me. (Lucky Tracy is here to defuse so much energy. What a great cook!) I've noticed that our reactions are becoming more vulnerable and I am appreciating more subtlety.
I remember seeing hump back whales today, this afternoon, just metres away from the boat. I remember watching a DVD before dinner and then finishing it after dinner, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". I described the film to Tracy, as beautiful and full of sentiment (even though it's an amazing action drama with fights to the death). I feel like one of the characters in the movie, the young girl, Jen, betrothed to be married, from a wealthy family, well groomed but wild in her heart, searching for adventure and with all of her body.
Mayah, Dad and John had a fishing expedition earlier this afternoon. They caught lots of fish and got soaked on the way back. I was invited but declined. They were intending to go this morning but we raised anchor and sailed a bit further. I was down in my private cabin, doing my reading, chanting and singing, when my father asked me to join them. I felt he was disappointed when I said I wanted to stay inside for the morning. I thanked him for asking. He seemed a bit jolted as he was just closing the door of my cabin with out really signalling we had finished talking. He asked me "what did you say?". "Thanks for coming to me and asking", I repeated, with some concern for his feelings.
My conversations with the other people on the boat, often lead to a sense of reality conflict. I'm the provocateur. "what do I do?" I provoke reality reform. I am obsessed with this role. It consumes me in private. It wakes me in the middle of the night. I feel conflict. Who's conflict is it?
I eat fine dinning at the hand of friendly servants, on a luxury boat, watching whales in Alaska, while we discuss our realities. My reality is asking me, "what do I do?". I remember listening to Tracy exploring her career history and her searching, for a sense of her self, with in her various roles over the years. She said she feels an affinity to me, my values, my nature. She gave me a double portion of the fish they caught today. My father and I joked about it. I said, "I'm obviously the favourite". My father said, "but why, what could be the reason?" Tracy settled it by saying, "his fish were smaller."
A few nights ago, my mother told us stories of how her mother survived the terror of Nazi Jew hunters. I don't like putting Nazi and Jew in the same sentence. I don't like the subject. I don't like what's going on for countless numbers of Lebanese that are displaced from their homes, or worse. I'm not taking sides but I must disclose my affinity to those people who are suffering, when some would assume I might not feel any affinity with them, because I'm a Jew or as an Israeli. I feel my mum's Jewish suffering focus is way too bitter and prejudiced. So is John's Aussie battler bitterness.
I wear Jewish garments and say Jewish prayers in private and in public. I am a Jew. People ask me why I practice Judaism. They are sometimes disturbed or just interested that I practice what they believe is out of touch with their reality. A reality that I share with them. How could I, on the one hand, share their reality with them, (they feel open enough to make conversation with me, about my practice) and yet on the other hand, practice another reality. One which seems so different from an Australian perspective and do so simultaneously and sincerely?
So, "what do I do?". A few nights ago, I talked about currency reform and blew my fathers mind (or something like that). He expressed his frustration to me and asks me to agree to a new condition of conversation. "Don't talk to me about anything unless it makes sense." (or something like that). "Answer questions directly... Don't say that you need to prepare us to understand your thoughts and then lead us on a detour, just answer the question directly". That conversation continued for another hour or so anyway. "But you still need money", he continued to exclaim, "you still need money" some of the others joined in, to the drone of the collective hive mind, worshipping with forked tongues, repeating their powerful money mantra. (Yes, I know how that must sound, I'm feeling bitter too.)
Tracy, diffused the tension from the galley (that's our boat kitchen). She is a great moderator. She says, "well it's interesting to hear another perspective". John, the captain, has departed from the table and hasn't returned. Mayah is downstairs, watching a movie. People come and go as they join the conversation, which I am so stuck on for a couple of hours.
I guess I set up some sort of psychological obligation, a need for reconciliation between several of us. Otherwise they would have just left and not returned. I guess I held my interest with whom ever would engage in the subject, or significantly with me at the focus, perhaps. I guess I was trying to explore the question of "what do I do?".
While I was writing this, Mayah climbed into my bed saying, "you better get some sleep". I said, "no... I've been sleeping, I've just woken up". "Ok", she says as I move over and she climbs into my bed. She is now fast asleep, with my key tapping and the air conditioning, whirring in the back ground. She knows that I am obsessed sometimes, always fixated with something or other and that I will sometimes stay up till the early hours of the morning, usually with my attention focused on my personal computer.
Mayah's picture smiles at me from the "virtual desktop" of my Apple powerbook. I'm just sitting here now, as if someone has just left the room. My back is too curved but I'm feeling too lazy to adjust it (I need to sit up anyway).
Well I think I better read what I have written and perhaps make some paragraph breaks (and should I edit it?) I wonder, in your virtual presence...
So I have just done that. Mayah has woken up and after I asked her to go back to her bed, she said "ok" and has now left. So now someone really has just left the room and I'm slouching again. It's now 5 o'clock. (5:27 after another revision.) Good morning world. I'll take another snooze for a couple of hours. What will I dream? (Asking that question is a state of mind that is a significant influence on just what I dream.) "What do I do?", is another question that changes the way I experience my world.
After another reading... I add the following to the details of the conversation at the dinner table from a few nights ago. John talks about his father, he was involved with world war two returnees from Japanese POW camps. The tension is high, I feel myself withdrawing but insert my point of view, when I feel that my perspective is in conflict with the dominant sentiments of the conversation. John asks me to explain my view, on racism, on hatred for a race or culture that is associated for violence to ones loved ones or countrymen. I say I feel bitter distrust toward specific violent and angry people regardless of there race or culture, but not toward their race or their culture. (I wish I was so objective, anyway.)
We discussed the situation in Central and Northern Australia. I said that after a week of ABC reporting, an extensive effort was made by government officials and covered by the mainstream media to respond to the "crisis". Someone, at the table, spoke negatively of the ABC, calling it the Aboriginal Broadcasting Company. The people at the table spoke negatively about Aboriginal culture and someone else agreed and said, "you would think they would appreciate us, for saving them from the Japanese." What?! "The Japanese would have killed them all." What?! "The Japanese wanted the rich resources in Australia.", and "Australia was only going to defend the lower half of the country." I was stunned to hear this perspective. I said I think a serious problem is made worse by corruption by non Aborigine taking government money as the go between and breeding bribery among the Aborigine. I was backed up by some stories from around the table but was looked at initially as an Aborigine defender and as an accuser of the bigotry being expressed at the table. (So, I think.)
Another conversation came up a couple of nights ago, mum and I had a heated discussion after watching "i, Robot". The final scenes depict a revolution by the little men (robots) against the big men (Human masters). With one of the main characters, a sentient emotional robot, emerging as the "saviour on the hill", in the final moments. Back stepping a little, there was actually two revolutions depicted in the film. First, the bad robots attack Human mastery. Since Humans can't be trusted, they are far too irrational to be masters, of anyone's destiny. This first uprising is well planned by the hive mind of the central mainframe computer, VIKI, the co-ordinator of the "New Breed". The second revolution rises from within the robot world as a reaction to the inevitable and predicted first revolution. The seed of the second rebellion is in the form of a conscientious robot, called Sonny, developed by the benevolent co-founder of the now greedy robot manufacturing company. Sonny saves everyone, both the irrational Humans and his fellow obedient law keeping robots (made "3 laws safe") from the evil, too easily corrupted, power grabbing robots, cause "they are too heartless", Sonny explains.
I said to my mum, "the first power upheaval was well planned, usually revolutions aren't planned, they are out of control". Mum said, "you are so naive". Then later the argument evolved to the nuclear disarmament debate and again she said to me, "you are so naive". I felt conflicted between needing validation from my mum and wallowing in retaliation. I felt I needed to show that my judge was too bitter and prejudiced to be considered a significant source of validation.
"Then, why did you take me to the anti-nuclear rally when I was a kid?", I asked, "Do you think armament is a good thing?". "Cause I was young and foolish, that's only for under 25's, I don't waste my energy on 'things I can not change'", mum replied, "I only want people who can protect me and my family to be armed". "But you were 35", I countered and continued to ask, "Don't you think that armament escalates and is threatening everyone?" In a further effort to discredit my judge, I ask, "do you only spend your political energy on defending Jewish and Israeli reputation in the media now?", pointing to her prejudice.
Earlier, Mayah says the movie was scary. Mum asks her why. Mayah says, "they said suicide". "Why are you scared about suicide?", as my mum continues to lead Mayah into her own twisted thoughts (sorry, I shouldn't say twisted about my mum), "is it because you are afraid of suicide bombers?". This shits me (pardon my expression), and I interrupt, "don't put your thinking in to her mind!". "The sentient robots saw humans as suicidal", I try to explain. I really feel my mothers misleading question to Mayah is not a healthy way of diffusing Mayah's feelings about the movie. I really don't feel it is an appropriate context for Mayah or I to be lead into. (It seems too easy for me to point the finger away from me. I prefer to be mislead by my own bitterness.)
My mother has extensive academic and personal experience in psychology. But I wish to avoid a contrived therapy about her own, Mayahs or my own Jewish or Israeli experience. I am dead set against hearing about suicide bombers at 10:30 at night. Especially as I feel my mother has already began with demeaning me and is using this drama as an escape from my retaliation. Mayah reacts to the conflict between my mother and I by sliding up to me on the couch and sitting next to me, and we both look at her wondering, what is going on. Mayah says, "it's ok, go on." She gestures to both of us, she doesn't want to be in the middle and has chosen a side. (I laugh as I write this, cause she is so amazing!) But I would have been devastated, if Mayah had chosen my mother, instead of me. (God forbid!)
Ok, it's not my job, to feel this way. I'm not employed to make conversations in to arguments. Though I have been accused of that on many occasions, especially by my father and indirectly by way of authority and suggestive positioning by my mother. I guess I take on that perspective too easily. Recently my brother, at a dinner table, asked me to be less argumentative and sure of my self. My father backed him up with advice to me to be less sure of my opinions, "I find it is much wiser to say maybe and perhaps, even when I'm sure", my father says. Hey, I admit, too often I do get "stuck in that lonely self defensive position", especially with my family. But that is just my focus for this journal today. I'm also blessed, we all are, very fortunate to have an open, generous and warm relationship.
So I pity myself at 7 o'clock in the morning. I'm a little in need of rest from my being cooked here. I think the cook has awoken. Probably the captain too. (Another reading and it's 7:30 am.) Nope, it's quiet again. Have they gone back to bed? (Yet another reading and it's nearly 8 am.) I'll sign off with some witty comment... umm, sigh... I added to the previous paragraph, "But that is just my focus for this journal today. I'm also blessed, we all are, very fortunate to have an open, generous and warm relationship." As I slouch so low I can barely read the keys to type and my friendly computer simulates the wet-ware female voice called, "Vicki", saying, "it's 8 o'clock".
I wonder if we will see more whales today.
I'll try to answer that question as directly as I can now (at 9:30 am): I practice personal well being, which is an ongoing learning, I learn and earn trust in relationships, through a shared process pointing towards mutual understanding, which I call the development of social network currency, as I work to bridge my own diversity of experiences and perspectives while I participate in a wider diversity of overlapping cultures. I am not looking for a job title at the moment.
I feel a little self centred reading this. So, I want you to know Mayah is enjoying everyones company. She is learning to knit with my mum. She plays UNO and bakes cookies with Tracy. John and Mayah play silly emotional miscommunication games, usually ending with John tickling her as she laughs. Dad loves to take Mayah out fishing. Is that everyone? We need to call Mayah's mum, Monica Miryam Tsruyah, today, cause it's her birthday. Tsruyah is in LA with her brother, waiting for us to come back to LA. Oh, heck, while I'm at it, I'll remind myself in your presence, of all my other significant relationships... No, not really, it can wait. Besides, if I list them, I might get in trouble for ordering them or describing them in a way that offends someone. So, I'll just say "hi", you know who you are. (10:30 am)
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