These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Choice = Bravery

Posted on December 19, 2019 by Tamy Jacobs

This post was originally written by Tami Jacobs on her personal blog: We thank her for sharing this piece. This is her reflection of the Pardes Negev Tiyul (South tour) that took place Dec. 3-5, 2019.

There’s a saying do something that scares you every day.
It’s funny I don’t consider myself a fearful person, but doing something that scares me or makes me have to be brave seems like a different skill. It’s more like, pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
How often do you do that?
I have a couple stories to share with you about making choices and being brave.

I got back to Israel a week ago, just in time to go on a field trip with Pardes. We went hiking in the Negev. The desert. It’s humongous, vast and has a unique beauty. The landscapes changed each day as we hiked.

On the second day, we went to Mitzpe Ramon. We were hiking in the dry river bed. Lots of rocks and sand. Towards the end of the hike, we came upon water. There was no way around it- only through it. I could see from the people in front of me the water came up to their thighs, I knew that meant it would come up to my waist.

What was my choice?!
So taking off my shoes, I waded through the cold water. As we rounded the next bend, more water. This time really deep. Some people swam through it.

Choices again!
Turn around and go back through the cold water again, climb up a really tall part of a cliff using handrails… or climb up the face of the wall…
Or maybe I could just stay there. No option sounded good to me.
I couldn’t imagine climbing up using handrails. It was really high and it looked really scary. I’m standing facing the wall thinking how I’m was I ever going to get up. Thank goodness for my friends who said we’re going to help you do it.
They showed me where to put my feet and hands and I climbed up the face of the wall.*
Before I started climbing I almost started crying. I was shaking inside and out. This took a different type of bravery muscle than I was used to using.
But I did it! I made it through!
And no one had to push my butt;-)
We all did it.

Some of us more skilled or scared than others. Teamwork at its best. When I was retelling this story to one of my wisest friends, she said it’s more than teamwork. It’s looking outside of yourself to see what another person might need. How you can help someone else. What might be easy for you, could be scaring the life out of another. So more than teamwork, humanity work. Building community.

The other type of choice comes in the form of relationships. I think about this kind all the time. Whether it’s making new friends or meeting new people or going new places, they all take a level of risk. Mostly the risk of rejection.

I’ve met a handful of people, that have said,
“I’ve been hurt…
just broken up with my…
had my heart broken…
and I’m not sure I can risk getting hurt again.
So as much as I’d like to get to know you, I just can’t…”

I’m not trying to shame anyone more just trying to put out a spectrum of how different people deal with their wounds.

We all have scars…

Times we’ve been hurt or disappointed by people or by life. Most of us don’t show our wounds. Most you don’t even see and would never know unless we trusted you enough to tell you.
Many of you know, I keep pushing through, like an energizer bunny.
I always say, what choice do I have?
Of course, like most of you, many days I like to just get in bed with my covers over my head. But I can can’t… don’t.

I think of these verse of this Regina Spektor song On the Radio

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does You’ll just do it all again
That’s me.
I for sure am not saying this is an easy choice, but for me, it’s the only choice.
Push through the discomfort.
When you get knocked down (and you will), get up again, dust yourself off and try again.
I’ve added a new step, what did I learn from this experience?

Sde Boker

Sending you blessings to try something new.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Courage to push yourself physically.
Welcome a new friendship.
Just ask them out for a cuppa.
What do you have to lose?
With the potential of so much to gain.
With love

Video of The Climb
*here’s what my friend a the climber said about what I did.
… what you did was difficult and impressive
I would call what you did a: “mildly-deep water free solo V1 Boulder problem”
The term deepwater free solo is generally reserved for climbing above like an ocean or a lake, but I would say the fear of falling into the water was still there for you.