Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Meaning of Life as depicted through Sour Patch Kids

The wonderful life of… Kitty and Rebekkah!

The best part about writing the weekly report is that I get to choose what gets said. And we can mention each other as many times as humanly possible. From this point on, you’ll be counting the amount of times were mentioned or have written the actual report ourselves. For example, I was gone last week on a Masa Building Future Leaders Conference, and I was in the flat and thus wasn’t mentioned in the weekly report.  This week, however, I think that the following insertion written by Kitty and I should be said, and thus here it is:
Sour Patch Kids and their implications on the lives of youth
To start off this article, we’ll begin by stating the 3 things we would do for Sour Patch Kids (this is a very hot topic in the Etgar Flat currently)
Rebekkah’s List:
·      Trade my precious Skittles
·      Debate with Jeff
·      Walk anywhere near the boy’s bathroom after it’s been recently used
Kitty’s List:
·      Nothing
·      Lick peanut butter off someone’s big toe
·      Give Jake a piggyback to class down two flights of stairs to class 117.

As you can see, Rebekkah’s list contains much more perilous things than Kitty’s does.  Why is this?  Maybe it’s because Rebekkah grew up eating SPKs and thus holds much higher value to them.  She’d be willing to do much more for the taste of those delicious candies again.  Kitty, however, does not even know what she is missing. Having had someone try and bribe me with this means, I have become increasingly more interested in the supposedly delicious taste Rebekkah claims they have. Which position is better?  To know and enjoy a luxury item and then have it taken away and dangled in front of you, or to never know and thus be indifferent to the dangling? To have loved and have lost, or never have loved at all?  Rebekkah pities poor Kitty, for she has never had the experience of tasting SPKs.  Kitty seems to think Rebekkah is a little desperate and weird, bargaining all of this for a candy.  Its really just sweets, I’m sure I can live without it, having lived a pretty average life without them thus far. As much as Rebekkah attempts to persuade Kitty, she just doesn’t get it.  And Rebekkah is becoming more frustrated; trying to describe something she thinks is so indescribably wonderful.
(Cue here: un-PC jokes about the situation when you think about it from the American kid versus the African kid perspective)
After some conversation about this topic, we have come to one conclusion:  it is favorable to experience as much of life as possible.  Eat SPKs, go to Zorba, try shwarma, run an obstacle course in the Old City, live in a flat with eleven young Jews, go to Israel, go to China, go to India, ride a camel, meet an Israeli soldier, play loads of Jewish Geography, go to university, study something interesting yet completely irrelevant to your future, or wear a crazy hat.  We do these on an almost daily basis, so we’re pretty much experts me thinks. Try it all, do it all.  What is life if you don’t experience it?  You grow up, follow societal expectations, and are nothing but a product of society.  However, if you grow up your own way and have your own adventures and try as much as you possibly can, then you are the product of your life.  To experience is to live, and to shelter your self away from the delicacies of the world (both culinary and not) is to essentially waste this one opportunity we are all given in this world.
I think I just figured out the Meaning of Life. I, Kitty, have not yet reached the point of being able to relate the meaning of life to the wanting of SPK. Maybe I should try them? But then I’ll have to do one of those things that I said before that I would do for a SPK and I don’t really want to because its really late at night and summer just doesn’t happen in Jerusalem.
EXCEPT (yes, chevre, there is always an ‘except’), what happens when you develop an attachment to something and then are no longer allowed it?  A country you’ve fallen in love with and then have to leave?  A food you can only have when in one region of the world?  A view that can only be seen from one spot, one singular spot in the entirety of the huge planet we live on?  A person you have to leave, or who leaves you? Or, for those of us who live in a different hemisphere and don’t know what daylight savings is, it might be people that have changed your life, and only having a limited time to talk to them. To be with them, to soak up every possible morsel of their being. Having a limited time frame for friendships in an environment like that of shnat is probably one of its biggest downfalls. I can’t imagine a shnat without the Northerners, and all too soon, I know that this will be a reality, and that I will spend the rest of my young adult life trying to reconnect with these people but knowing that we might not ever be a platform for that kind of relationship. I’ve just reached that stage of existential crisis and am now wondering why I spent the last four hours in the flat making signs and sticking them on the walls, instead of living. I could have been exploring Judaism in one of the holiest places on earth! But I wasn’t. I was here. You were there. And we were listening to Beatles songs and wondering why Josh had to poop so many times today.
Is it worth it?  The pain and that sharp feeling of loss that comes from having something taken away from you, or even worse: having to leave something.  Is it worth having had it at all?  On one hand, the period spent grieving may outweigh the joy the thing brought you.  In its most extreme form, grieving may never end, and it has the potential to destroy lives.  One the other hand, the joy can outweigh the grief and feeling of loss.  If anything, we can take in and realize that in our most depressive states, there is something we miss that touched us so deeply that we feel that way.  Something touched us and gave us such joy and happiness or something that it was able to make so much of an impact on us. Its people and places and things and times that make us realize just how precious each and every Sour Patch Kid is and how we should taste and savor the deliciousness in every minute. Yes, we are grieving and yes we are sad and yes we have a catch in our throat and a pang in our chest, but the knowledge that something was so detrimental to us in such a positive way can carry us through.  Using memory, it might even help to dwell on that pain.  There are a lot of reasons people say pain is good: it makes us stronger, it means we’re healthy enough to detect it, etc.  Another reason could be: Pain is good because it means that we were once healthy, happy, whole.  In this moment, with Dan making tea out of boredom and looking around at all the new signs depicting rules and regulations or even just the laundry roster, I’ll know that once there was a real purpose from nothing, from boredom and that pro-activism, in any sense would make the world a more colorful place where rosters are fun and everyone knows when they can do laundry. Yes, my arm is broken, but that means I had such a long time with full use of my arm, I could do so much with that arm?  Remember all those baskets I dunked, all those poems I wrote, all those hugs I gave…  Yes, I’m now sad that I am moving away from a close friend.  But I’m sad because that friend made me so happy, and I’m lucky to have had such a good friendship.  I miss friends. Yes, I miss SPKs, but I am so lucky to be privileged enough to live in a society that gives me such luxuries, so lucky to have experienced such a tasty treat, so lucky to be fed and happy enough to have frivolous things like SPKs in my life, so happy that I have nice little things in my life to miss and look forward to.
So although the pain of leaving might be hard, it is worth it.  It is always worth it.  Every bad thing, every pain means we were once happy. That we’ve grown and that we’ll continue to grow on this extensive journey called life.
Yes, Kitty doesn’t miss Sour Patch Kids, and doesn’t have the frustration and longing that Rebekkah now feels.  But she has never known this little luxury, has never had that experience.  Maybe Kitty feels more content with her life right now, but Rebekkah really has had more: more experience, more life (in this specific example of SPKs, not in general side-by-side comparison of our lives).  Content is an over statement, I don’t think one will ever be content. It’s human nature to want more, to be more, to love more (whatever that may mean to you) but one will never truly sit and look at ones life and say that they’re done. That, this is what they have done and that they’ll want to stop. No one should want to stop and that’s the beauty of happiness. More. Ah, the wonderful world of existentialisms.

The solution to our problem, and maybe all problems ever:
Jeff needs to share his damn Sour Patch Kids.