Tel Aviv Living: Why Americans are way too busy.
It's 7:35 am on a Saturday.
I divulge this bit of information because I'm about to tell you this: since my arrival back to the States I've realized that for those who call this country home, WORK is priority #1.
Success is priority #2. And, Showing that off is priority #3. NOT everyone. But, generally speaking. So yes, technically speaking because it is 7:35 am on a Saturday, I should be sleeping + resting if I want to make a point with what I'm about to say, but I don't consider this work. Or successful. Or anything I'm trying to show off, so please stop judging and allow me to write in peace.
After sitting in on yesterday's Women SEEN Panel in Detroit, looking outward into the crowd of eyes looking for answers, I realized that we live in a culture that is obsessed with Work. Obsessed with working. Obsessed with being busy. Obsessed with Doing. With Building. With Motion. With Meetings (coffee meetings too). With Conversations on how much we're working and how tired we are and how we just don't have time for anything. You know why?
because we're SUCCESSFUL.
It is SO important, in this culture, to showcase our success. You see? I don't put in ALL this work for nothing. I put it in because I get to be successful. And what do I do with that Success?
I SHOW IT OFF. Look at the people I'm tagging in my stories. They too are MAKING IT. They too are DOING. They too are collecting likes and followers and subscribers. We're working and we're successful. And now, we can travel places but not for too long because we've got to get back to work but for just enough time so that we can story and pose and post pictures and SHOW YOU just how successful we are because of all the WORK we've put in.
Generalization. This is. (Yoda reference) But please hit reply if you're NOT this person. Thanks.
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule in any culture. There are also, people like me, who found themselves in that hamster wheel, spinning so fast that the entire cage came unraveling, and I was dropped floor-side, on my back, heaving, grasping for air, thinking, how did it come to this?
I'll spare you the details - if you've read any of my story, you know. The more important question is: how did I come to writing this specific newsletter? What's changed? And how is it that I now see see clearly whereas I couldn't see (anything) before?
1. Spending six months recuperating. Actively being STILL. Because I had to. Observing my addict-like behavior to need, need, need to work because otherwise I wasn't doing, which meant I wasn't successful, which meant I had nothing to show off. What came of this? A more peaceful way of living. Immense Patience. Keen Observance. A certain kind of S L O W N E S S. Appreciation of SILENCE. And, most importantly, this new project and phase of my life, which ironically has elevated me to where I find myself now, a place I had worked so hard to get to for TEN YEARS while I was WORKING my ass off and basically dying. crazy, right? Wrong.
2. Sitting in Circle with Men and Women.
Aside from "what's my purpose?", the most asked questions go like this:
"am I on the right track?"
"will I ever be successful?"
"how do I know that I've made it?"
"should I leave the corporate world?"
"why am I not fulfilled in my job?"
"how can I get to the next step?"
"why am I always comparing?"
"will I ever be happy?"
It's so much about GETTING THERE. MAKING IT! REACHING SUCCESS! And then showing it off. RARELY, do we talk about the small things...the joyful things. Which is why, I often lead us into a space of Gratitude.
There is, however, always that one person in the group who likes to TELL all of us how they got "there". I let them speak for as long as they need to because they're the ones who need the validation the most. Take it. It won't fill the hole you're feeling on a daily basis. Especially the one you hear when you lie awake at night. Silence. Brings up all the scaries. That's why we keep busy. When you're ready to talk TRUTHS - I'm available for one-on-one's.
3. Travel. In observation of the two most recent cultures I've visited (Russia + Israel) I've come to realize - something that I had already known about Russia but I've now solidified - is that, those people know how to LIVE LIFE. Yes, they work too. We can argue until we're blue about how much or how efficiently or how professionally, etc. But, they work. They are human after all. Many are "successful". Many SHOW OFF in the same way we do.
But many MORE are HAPPY. Many MORE are smiling. Many MORE have a jump on their step. And, many MORE are celebrating LIVING LIFE. With Family. With Friends. With Drinking (not blacking out). With resting. With sleeping. With starting their days later in the morning. With walking. With culture. With conversation. With sitting on a stoop in Tel Aviv watching the street cats mosey around. Or cracking open a beer in the dvor (look it up) with a few buddies to cap off the weeknight, laughing and talking the night away.
My point is: aside from all the things WE DO, THESE People are LIVING. Living in a way where they know something we don't.
What is that, Alyonka? Good question. Because I asked. And most of them answered: nothing is guaranteed in life except for the present moment and if I go out tonight (aka die), I want to know that I lived today to the absolute fullest with the people I love the most.
NOT EXAGGERATING. This isn't scripted. It is the goddam truth. Multiple times over. I only wish I had my canon camera and rode mic to capture it all for you. Because you now -- everyone needs proof. People just can't accept that not everything has to be written in writing. Stamped. Sealed. Approved. It's not believable otherwise.
You know what I'll say to you? Live a little. Dare to believe the unbelievable. and think the unthinkable. And then speak up. In person. In writing. In company. Start talking to everyone about it. Start asking: why are we so damn unhappy? What is our pattern and why aren't we looking to fix/tweak/change it? Let's do this together! TRY IT! -- unless you enjoy living and spinning in this hamster wheel...in which case, you should probably unsubscribe from this newsletter.
Now that it's 8:02 am on a Saturday. I feel like I've put in enough work for the day...so here's my punching to live a little. I hope you do too. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day.
And no, that doesn't mean you should quit your job, or slack off, or stop trying. I'm not saying SUBTRACT. I'm asking you to ADD more meaningful experiences in your life. One's that have nothing to do with WORK, SUCCESS or SHOWING OFF. The real, free things of life. Look around. If you take off your work goggles, I promise you that these gems are right by your side.