Your country and you

I’m having a crisis of faith about our country Yoni. It’s a beautiful and special place. A miracle really. But it comes at a terrible cost. It’s had its ups and downs, but now things seem different to me.

I just don’t think things are going to improve here. I’m willing to wager that by the time you read this, and are old and wise enough to understand what’s written here, things will still be the same. And it doesn’t matter which government is in power. That’s the sad thing. The system is broken and there isn’t the will amongst the people to fix it. I mean, there is a will, everyone here thinks he knows how to fix ‘the problems’ – but this country feels to me like it is beyond repair right now.  The people are tired, easily distracted by their daily struggles. I think that, at best, our country will limp along, from one crisis to another, from one elated victory to morose defeat, up and down, up and down, again and again – for a very long time. Tension and release, tension and release – only it gets more tense between each cycle.

Internally, this country is coming apart at the seams like never before. Externally, our neighbors, far from coming to accept our existence here, are becoming even more hateful of us. They hate us beyond all comprehension – a violent, terrible hate.

There is so much talk of war here now.  There’s always been war here, and in between, talk of war, but it’s different this time, bigger, more threatening, more existential.

To live a normal life here we’ll have to fight forever. We’ll have to fight against each other [there are many Israelis who see themselves outside of our state, its laws, and its norms] and we’ll have to fight against our neighbors.

And I don’t want to condemn you to a life of endless wars.

I hear how some people talk here: “My grandson, he’s going to be a General for sure, or at least a Colonel.”

You know what Yoni? I don’t want you to grow up to be a General or a Colonel, or a Sargent Major or even a Captain. You might want to be these things some day, but I don’t want these things for you. I don’t want you to be a pawn. And I don’t want you to be a hero. I want you to live a long and happy life. I’d much rather you be a historian, a sculptor, a singer,  a poet, a builder, or even a computer programmer [yuck]. Anything but a soldier. God forbid you become a warrior. A soldier is bad enough, but a warrior is worse.

I worry that you’ll want to become a warrior. You’re strong, independent, curious, and stout – all these things I can already tell about you.

So how do I get you out of this black hole, that sucks in boy after boy after boy? And is it even the right thing to do? And what’s to say that, even if I do manage to get you out, that you won’t go back in of your own accord, much as I did?

I’m sorry if I’m scaring you. You’re way too young to think about these things; but I look at you now, tiny little man, and I can’t imagine you as a grownup. What kind of man will you grow up to be? In this country, young men want to become warriors. They are encouraged to want to become warriors.

What would you do if you were me?

Food, glorious food

We’ve just started giving you solid food – real food, not the baby powder and breast milk you’ve been eating all this time. So far you’ve had pulped carrot and some porridge. Both of these are natural things.

Now food can be great, and it can also be dangerous and complicated. But if you follow these simple rules, you should be able to cut through all the confusion and eat healthy. Remember what the ancient Greeks said: A healthy body in a healthy mind, and I always add, the other way round too.

What’s more, you don’t have the best genes when it comes to cholesterol, blood sugar, and central [abdominal] fat – at least on your father’s side of the family. So food is doubly important for you.

Think of food and eating as one of the most important things you do in your life. Don’t make it an afterthought, but keep it in the front of your mind at all times.

Food is basically minerals – once you eat it, ingest it, it breaks down into minerals, first in your mouth, and then in your stomach. Natural food is made up of minerals – from the earth and the sea. Processed [man-made] food is made up of chemicals in factories. Choose natural foods as much as you can. They are from the earth and sea, like you are.

Don’t eat and drink at the same time, it confuses the enzymes in your stomach that break down the food into chemicals and this can cause indigestion and gas [you already are a little master of gas].

Wherever you can, eat whole, natural foods. Eat something as close as possible to its natural state; that means, what it looks like when it came from the ground or the sea, or the trees. If you’re going to eat a potato [they’re not that good for you by the way] then eat it grilled, boiled, or mashed [never fried]. That way you can see how the potato was cooked and it’s not that far off from its original state. If you eat a microwaved dinner that has potato in it, you are going far away from the potatoes original state, and that’s bad.

In general, eat natural things, not things that have been processes, or man made. Keep away from sugars, especially soft drinks – they’ll make you fat and play havoc with your blood sugar.

Here’s a picture of you and me eating salad and hummus – great natural food.

 

Eat a big breakfast [it is the most important meal of the day], a smaller lunch, and a smaller dinner still. There is a famous saying that you should live by when it comes to food: in the morning eat like a King, in the afternoon like a prince, and in the evening like a pauper. Your digestive system is most active and energetic in the morning. It starts slowing down in the afternoon, and by evening time it is tired and shuts down for the night. Anything you eat at night will digest very, very slowly, will not get properly absorbed, and will give you more gas. You might even wake up hungry. Imagine that, after eating a heavy meal late at night the last thing you would expect is to wake up hungry! But that’s precisely what will happen – because the food you ate has not been digested. And not only will you wake up hungry, you’ll wake up tired, because you didn’t really let your digestive system rest properly at night.

 

Here’s a photo of a good breakfast I had with your great-grandparents Bep and Lou [notice all the different colours]

 

 

These are some other simple rules to live by when it comes to food:

Eat slowly – and purposefully. Don’t gulp down your food. Chew your food fully, don’t swallow huge lumps.

But above all: enjoy food. Enjoy preparing it, and enjoy eating it. When you prepare it, find fresh ingredients and take your time making it. Prepare your food with love, and share it with love too.

Eat well and feel great my son.

Love

Dad

No coincidence, you and I

 

Your grandfather Lev is fond of saying that there are no such things as coincidences in life. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong. I suspect we’ll never really know.

A coincidence is when things you didn’t think of, combine to create an effect you didn’t expect.

Here’s a story that will help you understand: When I was in the army I was stationed in Gaza, a dangerous place for us. Curiously, and unwittingly [perhaps 'coincidentally'], I assembled a whole bunch of green things around me: a green blanket, green shower slippers, a green bag [my own, not the one the army gave me, which was also green], a green CD player. The Israeli army gives you a lot of green things when you join it, but you can always get more of your own things.

They say that green is apparently very good for your eyes because the color makes them relax, and whatever is good for your eyes is good for you, because you have to keep your eyes peeled all the time when you’re in the army. Can you believe that? Imagine I was in the army and needed to keep my eyes peeled all the time but all I had around me where red things, or blue things, or yellow things. My eyes would be tired all the time (actually I remember my eyes being tired all the time). But God sent me green slippers, and green bags, and green shirts, and green caps, and a green CD player (you probably won’t know what that is).

By the way, you might go to the army one day. But I don’t want to think about that now. We’ll talk about that when the time comes.

So do you see what I mean about coincidence? Maybe it was just coincidence that all my things ended up being green or maybe God was looking after my eyes. Either way, looking back on it now, I’m inclined to think that God was looking after my eyes, because CD players come in so many different colors; and how is it that I ended up getting a green one?

One day we’ll talk about faith, and our religion too. You were born Jewish in Israel. That has special meaning, and unique consequences too.

We’ll talk about all these things when the time comes. Right now what I wanted to say to you is this:

I think God has brought you to me and me to you. I don’t think you and I are each other’s coincidence.

I stand above your cot in the darkened room, watching you fall asleep. I stand far enough away so that you think you’re alone, while you struggle with approaching sleep, struggle with putting your mind at rest, and slowly put yourself to sleep. I stand close enough so that, maybe, you’ll feel me close by, and know that it’s me, the “one that is there” (perhaps that’s the ultimate definition of ’father’?), the one that smiles at you, looks at you, sings to you. I’m the last face you see at night, and the first one you see in the morning. The one that you smile to when you awake and see me standing there again as if everything that happened between when you fell asleep and when you awoke was just a dream.

And during the night I stalk into your room and bend down over your cot, hovering just above you, scanning you, stalking you.  It’s not a coincidence that you trust me enough to fall asleep in this world, one which you know nothing of yet. This is not a given. Not every newcomer to this world falls asleep as easily as you do.  (Your mother says I should add “for now” so that i don’t jinx it.)  I hover there over your face for a little while,  getting into your mind with mine, and sending you a smile to wherever you are, so that your dreams are golden. And if they are, that too is no coincidence.

 

Top of the morning

The morning comes

I hear you calling, and you smile as you see me coming.

How can you be so wide awake so early?

I take you outside onto the balcony to greet the new day

Hello new day; what will we do today? What will we learn today?

We listen to Chopin

I drink coffee and eat your face

You perched on my shoulder; we go over the newspapers together

It’s always the same news, but sometimes there’s a good story hey Yoni?

Maybe one day we won’t read the papers so much, and we’ll think of other things.