A Note from Israel

Greetings from the Holy Land!

View from my hotel room

I’m in Tel Aviv right now on a free weekend while the students are off at host families. I spent the day at the beach, which was beautifully relaxing and rejuvenating. We will be on a plane back to the US mid-week. 

Over the last 11 days, we’ve had a stomach virus, several versions of the common cold, a camel bite, two sprained ankles, and dehydration. We’ve seen old friendships fracture and new friendships develop. We’ve crossed the country and spent time in the  mountains, desert, and three bodies of water. We’ve met new people and learned about ourselves and others along the way.

Being on this trip with students, like doing anything with students, requires a level of confidence that I don’t normally have about my own life. It means being optimistic even when I’m anything but hopeful, calming when my own stress levels are high, and compassionate when my patience has completely dissipated. 

Although the kids are constantly asking about what’s next, I try to remind them to focus on and enjoy what they’re experiencing now. Emphasizing mindfulness and gratitude for what there is now has been a helpful reset in my own mind, as well. For a change, I’m trying to figure out my own next steps. I’ve always been a planner and I’ve watched the plans I’ve made fall to pieces again and again. What has remained, however, is a feeling of serenity and internal peace when I am able to push the plans aside for just a moment. Those are the feelings I have been trying to help my students find on our whirlwind tour of Israel.

Today, think about today. Tomorrow will come when it’s time, regardless of whether you’re ready. Enjoy this moment for as long as you can hold it in your hands, and take that feeling, learning, and sense of awe with you to the next moment. Feel what you’re feeling, not what you think you should be feeling. Embrace the thoughts that come, recognize that they’re there, and use those thoughts to put yourself in a place where your current experience guides what happens next. Tomorrow will come when it comes. Now is already here.

Makhtesh Ramon

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