On this visit to Israel I soaked up on my Safta’s love and wisdom, feeling stronger than ever how lucky I am to have someone like her in my life. “At my age,” Safta said, “you learn to find happiness in the little things: the song of birds, the fact that the sun rose yet another morning, the blooming cyclamen.” At 96, Safta seems to have stopped worrying about earning money, self realization, or the melting of the arctic ice cap. Like an ancient olive tree on a terraced hillside, my Safta just is.
In the pursuit of happiness, we rarely recognize happiness when we feel it, and often confuse our lack of recognition with our ambition to stretch farther the limits of our world. It is easier to pause and smell the roses when I am not rushing to meet friends or thinking about where my next meal is coming from. Embroiled in the struggles of life, a rose seems trivial, a thorn in the way. But just think of the added quality of life that comes from that pause, the lowering of the nose to the open petals, the deep breath that fills the entire body with a perfumed lungful of oxygen and fresh start.
My mother says that even in the ugliest yard there is a splash of beauty. In a busy street in Tel Aviv, the pavement dark with the exhaust fumes of buses, birds sing in the trees, just as in the postcard-view of palms on a sandy Hawaii beach. Similarly, my Safta, in between enjoying the pink buds of the cyclamen, still worries that my 27 year-old cousin is not eating enough. Us humans love to improve, to change, to grow, and though we create much that is dark, we also bring to life much that is wonderful.
|Juice at end of the walk|