Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Exit Strategy

"Vertigo," according to Salman Rushdie, "is the conflict between fear of falling and desire to fall..."

I have been cherishing the dwindling sunlight and the last few days of the season that are warm enough to still spend time outside. Living in New England in the fall is one of those remarkable life events, in my opinion. I live in a place where people wave from their yard work as I run through town with headphones in my ears. Today, in fact, the dean of the college slapped me a high-five as we passed on the sidewalk. Under the leaves and the late afternoon sun that is now making its annual trip farther away from the earth, I stop, stretch, consider my pulse and practice a few yoga postures on the boathouse deck on the lake. The water laps beneath me, and the sun shimmers upon the lake just beyond my fingertips as I look down past my out-stretched fingers in a strong, triumphant warrior pose. Later, I hear from a few favorite students that I was "spotted" running through town again. I smile and jovially invite anyone to join me in my regular work-outs. They each giggle, of course, but no one appears to volunteer.

In a short time, I will be leaving this place--this place where the leaves fall, and my groceries are always placed in the cloth bags that I trot along with me to the only grocery store in town. I will be leaving this town where sushi is still considered an exotic food, the only coffee shop is closed on Sundays, and it is far more convenient to buy my vegetables in coin tender from the local farmer's kids who spend their summers sitting in self-made stalls along the side of the road. Of course, I will be leaving behind the migraines that never fail to bring me to my knees when the weather changes to snow or rain. I am also tempted to think that my insomnia of the past year will remain in this particular American zip code.

Two months until the semester ends. Two months until my contract is over. Time is up. Game over. Do not pass go. Obviously, with the leaves now falling, I take this as a sign to begin stripping myself of my short list of "trappings". In this, I have begun to concentrate my efforts on my "exit strategy". I need a new passport. I am inwardly tossing around the novel idea of selling my car. I am sticking closely to my budget and monitoring flights to Tel Aviv like a hawk. I have begun to begin again, which is refreshing. Perhaps you can take the girl out of the fire of the Middle East, domesticate her with a job and break her heart a few times. Maybe she'll leave it all better than she found it. Maybe she'll even be sweeter as a result. But, in the end, you can't take the fire of the Middle East out of the girl...

I am forward looking, simply because of the vertigo I feel if I allow my brain to even consider the whirlwind of this past year. When I run through town, I watch the leaves fall to the ground, and if I am not careful and deliberate with my state of mind, I feel the temptation to fall along with them. Ideally, a part of me fancies the idea of "settling in" for another long winter, but this is obviously not an option--not for me. Yet, the same part of me knows that another winter for me here would be suicide. Perhaps one day, I will look back and wistfully reflect upon how this year of my life was a perfectly encapsulated moment of yin-yang. For every moment of personal beauty there has been an equal amount of personal tragedy. It is what it is, or rather, it was what it was. I have taken the lesson. The wind is blowing. The time is coming to take the lesson and move on.

I fantasize regularly about how little I plan to pack. It instantly clears up the vertigo.



Alan Ward said...

Very appropriate post for the time of year. Enjoyed it!

PS: to link up with your last post, how is the Sukka coming along? ;-)


Anonymous said...

Autumn in Massachusetts changes my entire outlook for a few glorious weeks. Although the season quickly sheds itself bare and dies a radiant death, I feel so alive and happy this time of year.

Maybe it's my subconscious reminding me to soak up what I can now before the long haul of winter begins.

Namaste said...

Alan, I've been tossing around the idea of a post on the matter. Thanks for reminding me. :)

Hannah, you always respond far more eloquently than I can possibly write. But, yes, it is a soak it up while you can moment for sure. :)

Kim Ayres said...

I would find it easier to cope with the onset of winter if we'd actually had any kind of summer to speak of. I'm still waiting for it :(