03 December 2006

A Picture Perfect Path

Last week, I took one afternoon and walked around part of the city taking pictures. These pictures in no way represent a comprehensive picture of Jerusalem, but it is a start.
Looking through the photos later on, I noticed a not too subtle theme that ran though the set. Most of the pictures I took had something to do with a street or a road or an alley or a walkway, not something I had planned in any way when shooting.
Now, my psychiatrist (and my new friend Rivka) would ask: “What do roads/paths mean to you?” So let’s do a little psychoanalysis into my subconscious behavior.
Hm, you walk down roads, and they take you places. You have Robert Frost: “I took the road less traveled”, and the Roman adage: “All roads lead to Rome”. Roads were the arteries of the Roman Empire; in the case of Alexander the Great, they led to a previously unseen and unexperienced cultural diffusion, which changed the world.
I am on a road right now, proverbially. (Physically, I’m actually in a coffee shop on Hillel Street). You are also on a road right now, moving somewhere, traveling to new places, meeting new people, experiencing new things. We are all on a journey; we are all walking down a path, a road, a walkway. Where are you going? Which path are you on?

One thing that I have learned, that I am still learning is that the journey’s worth is equal to that of the destination. In other words, some people become so focused on where they are going that they develop tunnel vision and fail to recognize the beauty and the worth of the road on which they walk.
I live in Israel. For the last seven years, basically all of my adult life, I have wanted one thing above all – to live in Israel. There were times when I could not recognize or appreciate the beauty of my path because I was too focused on the destination. All I could see was where I wanted to go; I couldn’t appreciate where I was. I found that life requires a balance between being focused enough on the goal to achieve the dream and being able to open your eyes a little wider and see the worth of the path and the work it takes to realize the dream.
Look at these beautiful streets. People walk on them every day without a second thought, without awareness.

These last two are my favorites. I think it’s the palm trees. The first is a little walkway off of Hamelech David (King David St), if you know it. It is near the Old City and my ulpan.
The second is the promenade leading from West Jerusalem into the Old City, through the Jaffa Gate. (If you know your geography, Jaffa is on the western coast of Israel; the Jaffa gate is called that because it is the gate one would have walked through if coming on the road from Jaffa, from the West). Notice the Old City walls and, to the right of the Jaffa Gate, the Citadel of David (which, incidentally has nothing to do with David).

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