I bet I’m not the only one with the delusion that if I just disappeared, nobody would notice. It seemed neat that I could just move countries surreptitiously, and over time, people would figure it out. Yeah, right.
In this post, I tell you why I’m leaving Israel and answer your FAQs about that. I later go into some of the deeper spiritual, philosophical and political reasons underlying this life change. I will be starting a new blog, the Barefoot Gladiator, to follow my travels, so if you like this, you’ll want to follow The Barefoot Gladiator.
“What happened?” is the question I get most often when people hear I am leaving Israel.
Nothing happened, that is why I am leaving Israel.
I got to a point in my career where nothing happened, nothing was going to happen, and nothing was what I could expect for the rest of my life.
I’m working on three projects right now.
- Gangly Sister, a company with the mission of transforming how girls are portrayed in the media. For that to succeed, I need to relocate to where there is a children’s media industry.
- A non-profit, officially called the Voice of Humanity but which I have fondly called The Treason Project over the years. I have thought about it for a long time and it’s time to take action now.
- Business consulting and marketing writing, which pays the bills and can be done anywhere the world.
The short story is that if I wanted to stay doing business consulting and writing for the rest of my life, I could stay where I am. But that’s not what I want.
Where are you going?
It feels stupid to say I don’t know, but I don’t know. I am going to land in Philadelphia and buy a car. I’m flying to Vegas for week to go to the Licensing Expo. I’m driving around the Northeast with my son for a few weeks visiting family.
Then I will do the next thing. Followups from the licensing show. Fundraising for the nonprofit. Central Europe is really nice. I dunno. I’ll have a computer, a phone and a car.
Invite me. I’ll probably come.
Digital Nomad. It’s a thing.
What about the kids?
Although theoretically, the father only puts in one cell and I had to build the babies inside me from nothing, he gets just as stuck as I do with the kids for the rest of his life. In our case, more stuck, because he’s a homebody and I don’t seem to stay put for very long.
26 years, can you believe it? I’ve been living in one country for 26 years, and in this city for almost 18 of them. For me, that’s a crazy long time to be in one place.
My country, Israel, was built by a bunch of loonies, many of them no older than my children, who picked themselves up, left their native lands, and moved here. My kids are old enough to be OK. My daughter has a few months before her draft date. She’s planning to travel but hasn’t figured out where. I figure that works out well with my plans. Either I can hang out with her or I can (gasp) give her my car and pray.
My son’s a little younger. He’ll be living with Dad. I guess ultimately the daughter will too. Don’t ask about the cat. Somehow Dad ended up with that too. It’s good to choose the right person to marry, and, given the divorce rate, sometimes better to know who makes a good former husband.
I don’t want to pretend that was a hard decision. It was neither hard nor easy, nor a decision. Leaving my children was the consequence of another decision.
We are all at the point in life where we can choose where we want to live. They are welcome to come and live with me, of course. But that’s not what they want to do.
I won’t pretend it’s easy, either. My children and I have great relationships. We love being together. I hope we’ll speak often. I don’t know how it will look.
Those are the FAQs
Most people are satisfied with those answers. As a friend pointed out to me, “I can be supportive of you because I’m not responsible for you. If you were my mother or my sister, I’d be concerned. But I’m your friend so it doesn’t really impact my life.”
That pretty much sums up life, doesn’t it: I love you and as long as you don’t do anything that impacts me directly, I am totally cool with it.
Life simultaneously feels like you could choose anything and that you can only choose one thing.
What I mean is that I could, fundamentally, go anywhere in the world I want, learn anything, pursue any profession. At the same time, when I am listening to my body, my heart, and the signs in the universe, it seems there is always one obvious choice. I can do any of the other things, but if I don’t choose the obvious choice, things keep getting stuck and need a lot of fixing. When I do choose the obvious choice, things flow.
What does stuck look like? What does flow look like?
The little signs I’ve been on the wrong path have ranged from skin rashes to bad dates, but most of it focused around career and money.
Stuck looks like: screening 600 portfolios to find 1 artist for a comic book, only to have her quit after the first one and have to start over. It looks like getting to final stages of 5 job interviews but having the companies decided not to hire anyone. It looks like having tons of friends but spending every Friday night alone.
Flow looks like suddenly getting freelance work that exactly fits the bills you have to pay. It looks like the day after your friend cancels a trip to Vegas, another friend calls out of the blue and says they are coming. It looks like your friends calling to throw you a goodbye party and agreeing to paint your apartment with you in lieu of a party.
I try to be a rational businessperson, and to say those are just coincidences or that I’m responsible for how things did or didn’t flow at any given moment. But if I’m honest with myself, the world is full of things I don’t understand. Reading the spiritual signs that it’s time to move on is the best anyone can do.
I’m going to die. You are, too, BTW.
A few people in my life have told me I should not be chasing dreams but establishing myself as a consultant and saving so I can have a secure retirement.
After my secure retirement, presumably I will die.
No matter how I slice it, I will die. Parts of my life will be comfortable and parts of my life will be uncomfortable, and then I will die.
Whenever I get scared about the move I am making, I think about where I’m going, my destination. The destination is a hole in the ground.
When I think about that, it gives me the strength and courage to do anything I flipping want to do.
A lost generation
I’ve been looking around at who among my friends has pursued some higher mission. All of my friends, pretty much without exception, do work for higher causes. But who among them has devoted most or all of their career to making major changes.
Most of the people I can think of in that category are 15+ years older than me or 10+ years younger. (If your children are teenagers, you are approximately in my generation) I remember high school and college in the 80s, the Reagan years. I remember thinking that social activism was a good idea, but it didn’t produce anything. I remember thinking that being a journalist would be a way to make a difference, but it didn’t pay anything.
I look at the friends who have devoted their lives to a cause, in particular the ones 15+ years older than me, and I see it did produce something. People who created a chain of schools, a person who created a national organization for people with mental health disabilities, the people who created this country. During most of the time they were creating the thing, you saw nothing. It looked like they were doing nothing, but after 1o or 20 or 30 or 100 years, there was something indisputably there.
It seems to me that fewer people in my generation (if your children are teenagers, you are in the generation I am talking about) are devoting their lives to anything other than a regular corporate life. I don’t see many of them even in parliament or government or even as startup founders. Almost all of us are doing our contribution on a volunteer basis, on a small scale. This generation seems to be leading very little. Well, there’s the US Presidency, but that seems to be a bit of an exception.
It’s easy to feel too old to shift my entire career and life focus. It seems like a crazy deviation from everything my friends are doing. Fortunately, it’s easier to feel bored out of my skull with my career.
My friends have been incredibly supportive. As a generation, I think there was quite a bit of brainwashing we underwent about being realistic, making a good living, and the ineffectiveness of activism. I had to unbrainwash myself.
Does this country even have a future?
I don’t like to talk about this, but another reason I say I’m leaving, and not necessarily on a temporary basis, is because I think the country has no future. I’m admittedly a bit of a Cassandra, but stil
I’m a Zionist. It seems a silly thing to say. Only a Zionist would leave the United States and live in Israel for 26 years.
Four years ago, I was walking down the street with my 11-year-old son. He said “I love my country but I don’t think I will live here when I am big.” I jumped. I know this boy. He belongs here.
“It’s not that I don’t want to,” he says. “It’s just, they have drones. Soon the bombs will get to this part of the country.”
If an 11-year-old boy can see this in 2012, anyone can see it today. The entire region is so militarized. I’ve been involved in politics and in some form of the peace movement on and off for almost 20 years. More people seem to be getting involved, but with increasing levels of frustration, resignation and hopelessness. They say, we need to do this because there’s no choice, and it’s urgent. It’s desperate. I’ve only met one person with even a glimmer of hope in his eyes. He actually has a plan that could work, BTW (Itai Kohavi, in case you’re interested.).
I think almost everyone living here has their own reasons why they think the future of this country is in danger, one way or another. Some might think stupid peaceniks like me are ruining the place, some think the economy will tank, and others think ISIS will take over the world anyway.
Something fundamental needs to change, and it’s not at the level of an individual country anymore. It’s on the level of humanity, and how we organize our society. I’m working on that. I hope it will save my country, too. I mean, not exactly. I’m not sure the idea of nation-state will survive this level of reorganization, but I suppose what I mean is it will save the culture and the land.