© 2020 Drew T. Noll

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Corona Implosion

The Promised Land is a strange and difficult term. When moving half-way around the planet to Israel, I told myself that I was deserving of it, a life-change and midlife crisis all rolled up into one. Having converted to Judaism while living in Los Angeles, I was still trying to find my own Jewish roots after 15 years of raising my little Jewish family in Colorado. I had fled from the city when my first son was born, and became a member of Jewish Renewal in Boulder, but never really melded into the fold, I always felt. At least that is what I told myself to explain the difficulties I seemed to be having feeling normal, but really just feeling Jewish. At the time I felt that I needed to understand, more in depth, the roots of the tradition, or religion, or culture, or place of origin, or language, or … any and all of the missing pieces of who I destined myself to be; so, I searched. 


I searched for many years to find a path in life that fit my own vision; a vision of the answers compiled together, addressing the question of the universe—and what it all revealed to me—and what, ultimately for me, ongoingly ... it all really meant. This search caused me to change directions many times in life. And traversed I did, from Hare Krishna to tribal surfers, from indigenous culture to the second Number One holding court on the beaches of Laguna, mimicking the Greeter, Eiler Larsen, who, when I was a child, had been an inspiration to me. I witnessed Eiler often, but only when quite young, driving by in the backseat of my parent’s automobile, with my mother exclaiming, always, for us to wave back as we passed. He had long stringy hair, I remember, and an even longer beard dripping down over his stooped European frame as he waved and pointed his index finger out, as if saying, “Give me a ride, I too am on my way to where you’re going…” And, echoing through time, like a promise delivered, I see today that he was not altogether unhinged. I have carried Eiler with me in this life, remembering the good ole’ times from days ongoing and then passing by; all the while: with isolation currently rocking the planet and a pandemic of biblical proportions waving its hand out with greetings, not so gently. Like pointing a finger towards a future mostly known but entirely unbelieved, we, like infants cast into a pond, pass over altogether its meaning and flounder about in order to find the new norm. 


Passover hit me over the head this year. I’ve been living the dream for 13 consecutive years, building my presence in the Land of Israel via ‘anyway possible.’ I started with cabinet making, as that is what I had known, but moved on eventually to the Internet and all the blessings and curses that have evolved since from that realm. Once parting with my employ for 7 years: the Christian German Zionist Kibbutz situated down the street, I began to paint. From there I spawned a gallery, an art school, a center for community, and then began to teach – woodworking, painting, drawing, and ceramics, with creative writing hugging the aisle; then came teaching English in public school. In the summers I traveled the globe from the center of the world, exploring my backyard in Israel to Europe, Malaysia, Africa, Indonesia, Madagascar, and beyond. I may have converted my nefesh back in L.A., but my neshama became Jewish here in the Promised Land. Since then I’ve been selling my khumetz to the folk I once had been; and this year was no different. But, Passover this year, as opposed to before, has sent cracks out and into the world. It was spent with my tiny pod, our family of two grown boys with lives of their own. We isolated together, virtually embracing, as the world covered its face with masks of disbelief. I wrote our own Haggadah, and then read it together with my pod of four humans, two dogs, and two cats prowling ... somewhere on their own. Passover, really, just hit me over the head this year. 


There’s a world lurking above our heads, always, in this modern age. The air is filled to the brim with signals blinking and pinging off reality as we go about our business day-in and day-out. Due to the circumstances of corona-isolation parameters, I began teaching online, and discovered that right above our heads lays a network of blessings in a time gone aslant; the world created has growth-potential beyond. We’ve always thought of the virtual world as just that, ‘almost reality.’ But, what this particular reality has ushered-in is the understanding of belief. We can travel anywhere, anytime, virtually, and it absolutely exists. Our minds, in the end, allow it to be. Reality has become the plaything of philosophy, not the other way ‘round. We have become independent of our realm. Rome conquered the known world with roads, we know, but that evolution led us to planetary decay. Physically binding, our bio-eco-growth has propelled us, and has thus physically connected all reality that seemingly matters. Physically we have reached the paramount of ascent, but have not really understood it, yet. Like free-falling with gravity-understood, a primordial sea splitting, we breathe in one last time—the essence of what we’ve built, the age of knowing about to decline. Turning the page now, we anticipate what our minds will build next, what the new reality tells us will become. And, turning over the next falling leaf, we may discover that we knew of a grand-plan all along. 


What is a promise? Well, integrity is important to understand, as well as hearing the truth of the reality spoken in the first place, but it’s more than just that. My mom, insistent upon asking us to look at the Laguna Greeter greeting and pointing the way, may have known. She was ill in her mind, at least certified by the standards set in motion by the ‘real world,’ but also had some underpinning of awareness of a place unknown. We dwell day-in and day-out waiting for the next landing, the next place, a land only dreamt of, the next awareness of what will be, but in the end all we keep wondering is only from which way it will come. Together we wait. Together we isolate. In gatherings we settle. And, we wait. Sometimes we adjust our own thinking, and influence others in our pod, as isolation waivers and the future reveals its possibilities. Sometimes we just inhabit within the influence of others. And, we wait. For what, we cannot tell. For, if we do tell, we ignite growth and decay all together. If we engage we risk chaos, uncertainty, and cracking the shell. There is, however, a quiet place that exists in us all, in our minds, deep at the back, that can guide us and help. In each of our bio-ships, our suits, there exists a node deep at the core, a place we remember from before. Like a world revolving above, a sword unseen, unbelieved, the promise from before sprouts up in our own backyards. Like a fountain of inner peace from our isolated souls, we reach out to connect to others, all others; we can reach out with our ingenuity and intuition, we can reach out and greet one-another as we pass over, and only then can we truly settle — and only then can we, in truth, dwell.

- Photographs taken in Ramat Hanadiv Nature Reserve near Zikhron Yaakov.