Sometimes one just has to leave the comfort zone and do something else. My comfort zone is definitely home, my room, my computer activities. I’ve been working to get it down to a fine art, balancing productive chesed, family and writing activities with the entertainment I enjoy, making it all into a point game with a chart so I can see exactly what I’m accomplishing by the day. Some might find it a bit obsessive/compulsive in nature but for me it works well in making sure I don’t neglect any particular detail important to me. So my life became comfortable and somewhat regimented but I like it, it works for me.
Moshe found his aliyah a most challenging task for him personally due to a slight speech impediment and a natural sensitivity to any kind of public speaking, which both his parents share! One of our rabbis had advised not pushing him and was trying to find the smallest, least threatening minyan. At first the plan had been to take the aliyah in the school but some boys are unnecessarily cruel and Moshe was expecting the worst. I was torn. On the one hand I totally understood his reticence and heard that rabbi’s advice not to push him. On the other hand I felt strongly that for his own personal development and self esteem he must be encouraged to face his fears and just go ahead and do it anyway. I have had this struggle with public speaking myself and know how good I’ve felt when I managed to present anything. So I pushed for this course of action and finally we found ourselves outside Lev Aryeh on Shabbos with growing crowds including boys filing in, a son who was almost freaking out and an encouraging father. We gave every possible pep talk but I think what helped a lot, apart from Akiva’s words, was a bargain. I agreed I’d go with him go karting, even though the outing was something that was really not up my alley at all.. but just to make him happy because it meant so much to him for me to go along. In other words, we’d step outside our comfort zone for each other.
Well, Moshe stepped out of the shul not long after, exultant, having shaken many hands, and clearly very happy for having received his aliyah in honour of his Bar mitzvah. It really did make him feel so much more confident and accomplished, to have faced his terror and overcome it and I, of course, was very proud and happy for him. He was now saying it really wasn’t anywhere near as bad as he’d expected, noone had made fun of him, on the contrary, everyone treated him with far more respect than he’d anticipated.
Well, today I had to fulfil my part of the bargain, sharing his pleasure with him. This did not really require a great deal from me, just seven hours away from the P.C. in the freezing cold rain and for me, rather boring surroundings. Malls, bowling alleys and noisy amusement arcades in Talpiot are generally just not my ‘scene’. At all. Even so, I managed to make the most of it, noticing which plants were in flower along the way, including a stand of castor oil plants of which I just had to stop and get a photo, and finding urban birds. I also mentally dropped gears into my most easy going low intensity mode which simply kicks back and experiences life. We enjoyed nachos with salsa, I watched the boys play some exciting bike race video games, took a walk around the block with Akiva and watched the bowling while we waited for our turn on the go karts. I’ve been watching a series about Charlie Boorman on the Dakar rally as well as his travel adventures with Ewan McGreggor on motorbikes around the world so watching motorcycle video games was not entirely without appreciation.
All the time I was sincerely with the boys in their pleasure since I wanted them to have a memorable and enjoyable day, and used my relaxed mood to help this along. We were quite impressed with the efficiency of the go karting place.. they started not much later than their anticipated time for their turn and both had two good sessions round the tracks on gas powered go karts that look like mini race cars. Helmets of course, as well as a brief orientation session on the meaning of the flags and the “dos and don’ts”. Moshe crashed and scratched his neck up a bit due to some moronic driver who thought it was bumper cars but not seriously, and his enjoyment made that insignificant. He wore it like a medal of honour! My eyes have been acting up lately, I suspect a bit of dry eye, eye strain and possibly a bit of aggravation from the air spray I’d been using. That plus my diplopia made me reluctant to drive myself but that had not been part of the bargain, fortunately, and I’d made it clear I wasn’t committing myself to that. Still, Akiva drove a session and Moshe was just happy I came. He likes my presence on family outings a lot, which also warms my heart that he wants me there.
Moshe of course, was not my only concern on the trip. It was Avremi’s ‘Hanukah outing too and important for me that he enjoyed it just as much. He is much more introverted than Moshe in his nature, less expressive, though he IS expressive in his own way. I wanted him to feel fully included and cared about in all these respects and I really hope I succeeded in this. He did seem to enjoy it all.
The other good point was my health. On wednesday I was feeling slightly under the weather when I got up and it really looked like I was finally starting to come down with the flu that had hit most of the family. My immune system is, thank God, excellent and I seldom get ill but I had resolved that I’d go today anyway even if I did have the flu, just to keep my promise. Well, apart from a minor bit of phlegm I felt no significant malaise, seemed a false alarm and I wasn’t going to suffer that way. Thank God! Now I’m just keeping warm and taking care of myself.. back in my comfort zone!