Last week a new acquaintance (someone I met through an online writing course) described her life as "boring," much of her time spent driving her children from hither to yon. I instantly typed that mine was much the same, a big ho-hum, and pushed "send." Not three seconds later I shook my head at the irony of that response. After all, life here in Israel is, officially, anything but boring. Just one day earlier there'd been an horrific spate of stabbings, this time one of the victims an American veteran who'd survived tours of duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq and just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. Another senseless loss. How dare I claim a suburban life similar to the woman running a carpool in the Boston area?
But, in fact, that original response was close to the truth. My everyday life, the one with a very limited circumference, closely resembles those described by my friends across the Atlantic: much of the late afternoons spent driving up and down main street, lifting a hand here and there to greet other mothers shuttling their children to various activities. And although the dichotomy between the reality that exists right outside my front door and the one that lurks, say, 50 miles away, is enormous, this is probably just as true for them. Dreadful, pointless, terrible things can happen just about anywhere and we all know which "hotspots" to avoid. Carefully choosing a "safe" route, one with the least potential for calamity, is a fairly universal pursuit.
This, at least, is how I console myself when the nightly news gets too awful to bear. But in addition, I've developed a hearty shell, an armor of fortitude, that helps me get through the grimmer days and face those to come.
So how ironic is it that I've recently found myself ducking into that same protective shell in an effort to weather events far off our local shore. Desperate to distance myself further and further from the disastrous potential fall-out of the "battle to the finish" of the present America presidential election, I've assumed a numb, non-reactive, state of mind intended to inure me to the frightening reality of who, or what, will remain standing when the dust settles come November.
What better way to react to what has become a farcical, yet no longer amusing, form of stand-up resembling very little of the civics lesson I knew as a child?
There is no doubt that living in a country whose present government represents not one iota of my interests (and, in fact, stands in gross contrast to them), its policies jamming us all even further beneath a virtually intractable rock of unbearable stasis, has encouraged the gradual development of my anesthetized condition. But the up-side is that I'm now well prepared to watch the leadership of the Free World be duked out in a virtual boxing ring. Indeed, in light of what has become all show and very little substance, a campaign promising a government of ego bent on extremism, bluster, hysteria and even violence, led by someone I wouldn't want to have at my dinner table, my reaction seems nothing less than expected.
Faced with the "unimaginable" reality of what might be out there in the great wide world, where the forces of extremity threaten to upset what has always been, from the onset, a very fragile game: living a life, it's no wonder I've taken umbrage in my local reality, the one quite similar to that of my pen pal from New England. And although I remain engaged in what's happening globally, staying informed and up-to-date on the current raucous race back in the States, and will most definitely go out there and vote (in both primary and presidential elections), I choose to maintain a healthy skepticism, and even healthier distance, toward the significance of the outcome to my own mundane life. After all, no matter which candidate is elected (and of course I have a favorite), no matter whose party comes into power and gets to make decisions, I will still be left, as I am today, trying to navigate a path through a turbulent world.