pursuit of happiness

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‘to life’ – wine from the bottle

This is the end of the second week that I’ve been living away from home, in exile, so to speak… not wanting to watch the whole process of the selling of my home, and taking it apart, and the packing… all that is part of moving from one place to another. The first thing you might notice about that, is that I’m a very self indulgent person… one who chooses what he wants to do, and what he doesn’t, and avoids some of the chores that everyone else would feel obligated to do himself. Of course, it would be impossible for many others to do what I’m doing. But I’m fortunate in having friends who are willing to suffer my eccentric behavior. And I can only hope that I amuse them enough in ‘normal’ times to make up for my selfishness at times like these.

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on a walk around town

And living here in the home of my dear friend, Janne, I have been slowly adjusting to a slightly different existence from my usual, though trying to keep up with those things I usually do. My walks have been longer, because I’m in a new environment, and seeing new sights I’m not used to. I spend time looking at the trees and the vegetation, examining the houses and the streets of this new neighborhood, lingering at the corner market, checking out what they have to sell. I explored a very beautiful park the other day. I don’t know if it’s the only one here. There may be others… and introduced myself to the local cats.

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cat on a street corner

In fact, I had two very interesting meetings with local people the other day. There was a woman who approached me while I was at the park. She spoke to me hesitantly, telling me that she thought we might have a common interest. I encouraged her, waiting to hear what was on her mind. She mentioned that she noticed I had a camera. Yes, I said. I was a photographer. And she had observed, she said, that I had taken some pictures of the cats in the park. Quite true, I agreed, still puzzled about her interest. I wondered if she wanted me to do a portrait of her pet cat… But then all was revealed. She explained that she had written a number of letters to the town council, complaining that there were too many cats in the village. Some of them were even so rude as relieve themselves in the public park, while others were unembarrassed to make love noisily in the middle of the night, waking up sleeping citizens with their catcalls. Unfortunately, she had received no replies from the city council. But seeing me here… a man she was unfamiliar with, watching the cats… and even photographing them… she couldn’t help but think, that just maybe, the town council had sent me to deal with the problem. Was it true? Was I gathering the needed evidence so that these lousy cats could be eradicated? Or at least banished from the town?

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the town as seen from above

With the greatest possible tact, I explained to her that I was a visitor here… staying with a friend, and getting the feel of her wonderful town. And that as a matter of fact, my photographing the cats was motivated by a sincere admiration and affinity for cats. Where did I come from, she asked, a look of sadness on her face. I come from Jerusalem, I said, and as you probably know, I continue, the emblem of our city is the lion of Judah, and these cats remind me of that regal lion. Oh, she said, with a disappointed sigh… If only you would take all of our cats back with you, when you return to your Jerusalem. But she was nice enough to wish me a very pleasant stay in her town, nodding her head all the while, as if this disappointment was a little hard for her to take. We parted in a friendly way.

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And the thought that has been occupying my mind today, is that I came here to this village to escape a situation that was unbearable for me. I was uprooted from my familiar surroundings, from my books and tools and conveniences. But what I found was a beautiful and intensive experience of life. Just a short while ago we celebrated the holiday of tabernacles, and had to move out of our homes for a week to fulfill the traditional demands of that holiday… in order to be reminded that our own lives and circumstances aren’t permanent. And now, unexpectedly, I’m reliving that experience in real time. And it isn’t just for a week. I don’t know how long this process will take. But it seems a test of all we’ve learned from that traditional holiday. My ability to adjust to a different environment, and to make the most of life even when things don’t go the way I’m used to… that’s the test. And my objective, of course, should be to enjoy life as much as possible during this time. Not to wait till the temporary inconvenience is over. But to immerse myself completely in the experience. And to relish every moment… the good and the bad… because the clock is ticking, and we’ll will never have these moments again. Life is going by.

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the commercial center

So I’m living my life as best I can. Doing the things I love to do. I’ve been playing with the subtleties of color, and doing some photography using a wide 16:9 format. It’s both interesting and challenging, and distracts me from the memories and emotions related to the move. As I approach the Sabbath, I welcome the added joy of a day set apart, in which we celebrate the interwoven joy of the spiritual and material, and rest from our work, whatever it may be.

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at Janne’s home with Georgia

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72 responses to “pursuit of happiness

  1. Photographs are so nice dear, especially the last one 🙂 With your camera I am sure it will be so nice to get used to new home and place… Thank you, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • Thank you very much, Nia. I think it’s always a great pleasure to explore a new place with a camera… maybe that’s why photography is more popular now than ever before. My best wishes to you.

  2. Good luck with the move. Shabbat Shalom.

  3. What a huge upheaval for you, and how blessed you are with friends and family to take care of all the practical necessities. I’m struck by your realisation that you’re living the experience of tabernacles in reality. I hope your new home proves to be the promised land!

    • Yes, it has been something of a test already, and it seems as if I’ve got a way to go. And what you say about my realization, is the most striking part of this experience, so far. We tend to categorize religious ceremony and messages as a separate part of human activity. But an experience such as this, is like getting attacked on the street after you’ve been learning tai chi (the Chinese martial art) for a great many years. Now here is the test. Have I truly learned what I studied? It’s a challenge. As for the promised land… As you know, I’m an Israeli, so for me at least, this is the promised land. Thanks for the comment, Gillyk.

  4. Moves are never easy, let alone one that has been your home for so long. But as you say in the beginning with the wine – To life! … and a worthy saying that all of us should remember to keep everything in perspective. Peace to you.

    • Thank you very much, Frank. I’m trying as best I can to enjoy this adventure. You’re right of course. It has it’s difficult moments. But I suppose that is characteristic of life in general.

  5. Such a beautiful reflective post, Shimon. Though Darren and I have never lived anywhere for very long, we have moved often. Soon we will move for the fourth time in five years. It’s always difficult to leave a place behind. Parts of life happened there and that place becomes a part of your life and story. So, I understand how hard it is to move…and I can’t imagine just how hard it is after living in the same place for 40 years! I love the photos you post, especially the cat photos. Georgia is beautiful and I like how the other cat looks like he has a little black mask on :]

    • Since I have a special love for cats, I like to get to know the local cats wherever I happen to land. Georgia resides in the same home where I am staying, so we have been getting on quite well. But I’ve also been meeting a lot of new feline friends. Thank you for your comment, Kari Ann.

  6. I am happy to hear you are navigating your way through this upheaval, Shimon. It is edifying when we understand we have the tools to build something new. Peace, Shimon

    • Yes, it is quite an adventure, JH. In many ways, I am incredibly lucky. My problems can’t be compared to what others have to go through… But even so, we all get tested on our own level… and it’s a learning experience. Thanks so much for you comment.

  7. Hello Georgia and Shimon! I love that photo, in particular and the beautiful shot of town at twilight! I’ve been thinking about you this week and your transition. And I’m glad you’re getting out and exploring your temporary digs with your camera. I think everything feels better when you’re with your camera. At least it is for me…
    I suspect you won’t read this until the Sabbath is over, but I hope it was restful and contemplative. I love that tradition in the Jewish Faith!
    Cathy

    • It’s quite true… the Sabbath gives us a pause, no matter what we’re doing, and I do appreciate that. And as you say, Cathy, it is a great pleasure to play with my camera instead of worrying about the technical problems that have suddenly inserted themselves into my life. And being in a new environment, offers me a lot of new visual stimuli. So the photography is very appropriate on this adventure.

  8. Such wonderful photos, Shimon! I also and especially love the last one, but all of them reveal your engagement and curiosity, such fine and wonderful gifts when we face transitions in life. Gentle peace and deep joy where it’s found, and authentic experience, always…I wish these and the blessings of my heart as you continue “being where you are.”

    • Very glad you enjoyed the photos, Kitty. Though my problems might well be categorized with a sneer, as ‘rich men’s problems’… especially compared with what others have to suffer in this world, I think you’ve put your finger on the essence of what I’m going through. It’s a life transition for me. And as such, it’s a challenge. But also a learning experience.

  9. It’s a big change Shimon that’s for sure but it sounds as if you’re doing it the right way. One step at a time. Shabbat Shalom.

    • Yes Edith, I think the longer it takes, the better I will get at this. It has been a massive interruption in an otherwise easy going stage of my life. But I’m learning to make the most of it. Thanks for the comment.

  10. Of course I love the last shot, but maybe my favorite is the one with the roof tops. Shadows, and a wide view. Especially like how you framed the shot, with the tall building at the right edge of the photo. Gives it texture, and balance. And how you kept the horizon (and the glorious colors) cutting across the photo. Yes, I really like that shot.

    I was almost giggling to myself when I read about your conversation with the lady in the park. You? Sent to eradicate the cats? Rather than to celebrate them in their natural habitat? Capturing their looks of amusement, as they observe the monkeys? (smiling)

    Your reminder to be present, and to live fully in each moment, is a timely reminder. I’m experiencing a transition myself these days (although not nearly as wide-reaching as moving from one home to another). As I move through the new landscape of today, I will keep your words in mind. Now is the time for living. Not later.

    • I appreciate your comment, N… especially knowing that you went through a similar move just a while back. And now you say you are going through another transition period. I can’t help being aware of the fact that I am less flexible than I used to be… and the awareness doesn’t change things so much. I suppose it’s part of growing old. Thank you very much for your appreciation of the photography. It is a source of joy for me… both the work itself, and being able to share my views with my friends.

  11. I’m glad that you have friends who are willing to help you move and pack, I’m quite sure you would do all sorts for them. I love these pictures, the colour of the sky has me mesmerized, and that little cat is lovely. I’m SO impressed with that first pic too….I love how you’ve captured the drop of wine.

    The lady in the park has annoyed me no end though, why are there so many people in this world who believe the earth belongs to people only…maybe the council should come and round her up and re-home her!!!!

    I know this is a difficult time for you Shimon but I’m glad you have Janne and her cats, especially Gorgia who you seem to be bonding with. I’m glad you’re making the most of it and finding pleasure exploring your new environment. How long will it all take?

    • I like the idea of relocating the lady in the park, Dina. In my ideal world, I would build skyscrapers especially for such people… which would be designed like the local mall… a virtual sky above, and an entire world of plastic and man made materials… with no raw nature to depress these people… maybe a little muzak in the background… you know, elevator music to keep them calm. And no other species to be seen. They would be happy there, and I would stay with the cats below. Yes, I’m bonding with Georgia, and enjoying my time; photographing a new environment is a lot of fun. As for how long it’ll take. I have no idea. I now have a lawyer representing me… and as you can imagine, they have their own schedule. Still, it’s better than doing it myself.

  12. I always say…”Eccentricity is it’s own reward” and I am quite sure of it! Not sure why you are so concerned about this move as it appears to be weighing heavily on you. How odd to meet that woman in that manner. And then you put it into its own reality by relating to religion and its holidays. Be well Shimon.

    • Yes, I learned that phrase from you, Bob. And I’ve known all my adult life that I was an eccentric. But to me it seems that aside from the reward, there are numerous disadvantages as well. But in any case, it’s hard to change ourselves, isn’t it. We just have to accept our conditions, and try to make the best of it. Thanks for the comment, my friend.

  13. I know how it feels to leave all your beloved people and places moving to a new area especially if you’re old, it’s even harder to adapt. Yet, it’s still good that there are welcoming people in the new area.

    Very nice post, I like it very much. 🙂

    • The older we get, the less flexible we are. It’s true physically as well as emotionally. Of course, if we continue to exercise and use our abilities, they stand with us over the years. And there are certain advantages to be found in old age. On the whole, I am grateful for the life I lead these days. But such major changes are difficult. Thank you very much for your comment, bur911.

  14. Very nice photos -I love the first one. Your tale of the anti-cat lady is well told. But you are a consummate story teller. And you posts are always deeply satisfying. Thank you, and good Sabbath!

    • Thank you bluebrightly. That first photo owes everything to timing. I remember when I was working hard as a professional photographer, I used to do an occasional wedding, even though it was hard work and I earned much less at such an affair than I did in industrial photography and advertising. My friends would ask, why do you do weddings? And I would say, it’s like a bull fight. It keeps me in shape. At a wedding, you have to catch all the guests as well as shoot the ceremony, and you want to shoot each person there in a way that will catch his or her personality. It is really hard work. I think they’re under rated.

  15. You amaze me. Your heart felt journey…you, totally immersed in the guts of life…inspires and supports me. The power of words and images always boggles me. It’s 8:07 a.m. here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada…and your post…from so far away, is likely the largest gift of my day….so early to be a recipient. Keeping you in my heart, with my prayers, as your immersion continues.

    • Thank you very much, Kathleen. I am so glad you enjoyed the post. This morning I took my daily walk, in this still somewhat unfamiliar environment. And I was thinking that despite the fact that the whole process I was in was a little hard to take, I had gained much from the experience, and was excited by all the new views… and should be grateful for the opportunity. Every day brings new opportunities.

  16. Much better to embrace life rather than try to escape it. And I love the light in that last shot.

    • I’m so glad you liked that last shot… with the cat in the shadow, yearstricken. I agree with you completely. Better to embrace than to escape. But I have to admit, that sometimes… I just run for the hills.

  17. Just back from a few days away and we come home to a stale and damp smelling house and all the familiar problems. I would love someone to do all the work connected with a move: the ultimate joy would be a to fall asleep one night and wake up the next morning safely installed in my new home with all the details resolved. You have good friends, Shimon.

    • Yes, I’m grateful for my friends who are protecting me from some of the harsh realities of life. But your idea is still better; to go to bed with a problem, and then to wake up and find it resolved. What a nice idea. Fortunately, having taken refuge in another town… I hardly know my problems anymore. I wish you an equally easy move when you’re ready for it, Andy.

  18. I’m wondering if you took your title, pursuit of happiness, from the American Declaration of Independence, and why you applied the phrase to this post in particular.

    • You’re right, Steve. I had the opportunity of studying in your fine country, a little more than fifty years ago. And I found much to learn and admire about the USA. I’m still a great fan. I used the phrase because in this commercial age, people often identify happiness with possessions and accomplishments. But here I am, somewhat uprooted and lost. And in this condition, happiness is for me to keep on enjoying the day to day existence, without too much worry about the greater process. Thank you very much for your comment.

  19. Wonderful photographs, Shimon. They look as if you are looking at this place with fresh eyes.

  20. I loved all the photographs!
    “In fact, I had two very interesting meetings with local people the other day.” So one was with the cat terminator…. Where’s the other one?

    • The other meeting was with an Ethiopian gardener, and it could easily fill a blog post. When I first started writing this post, I thought I would tell both stories… but I get the feeling that some of my readers speed read if they encounter more than 600 words, so I try to keep these posts moderate. Maybe someday I’ll post the conversation we had. But it doesn’t matter. Life is such a bag of tricks, that whatever we pull out of it… there’s always a lot more left in the bag. Thanks for your comment, Rachel. And I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.

  21. Thank you for the ‘holiday of tabernacles,’ I wish you the very best in your transition. Wonderful photographs.

    • Very glad you enjoyed the post. And thanks for the good wishes, suitablefish. This has already turned into an interesting adventure… and not at all what I expected. I’m sure I still have a lot to learn.

  22. Such wonderful photos here, Shimon. I love them all. And I wonder if it is a coincidence that your holiday of tabernacles happened during this time of the move and change in your life right now.
    The light in that last photo is lovely; and your capture of that first drop of wine making its way into the glass is superb.

    • Actually, the holiday was slightly before all of this came to pass. So it was fresh in my mind, but here was the real test. I’m very glad you enjoy the photography. I see so many young people who’ve come to love photography these days. What was work in my day, has turned into a very fashionable hobby. So I have it easy… I can continue what I learned long ago, and join the party. Thank you very much for your comment, Angeline.

  23. Blessings, Shimon, in this time of transition. It’s bound to be interesting, and I anyway love the notion of you being thought to be the solver of village cat problems. What a very good joke – the sort that makes you laugh on the inside for days to come.

    • Thank you so much for your blessings, Tish. It is interesting all right. If I had tried to imagine this adventure, I wouldn’t have even come close. And the advantage of a challenge, is that you find out what you can do, and the doing of anything strengthens us, and makes life all the more vital. When that woman first came over to me, I felt an instant of sympathy… but as I learned what was on her mind, I had to restrain myself, so not to be insulting. One challenge brings on the next. If I keep this up for much longer, I might find myself getting younger… but you know, that would just be too much work.

  24. Where is Nechama?

    I understand the desire to escape the dust-up of a move. Kelli and Jeremy handled our move to the new house. They arranged everything down to the pictures on the walls. It was a great relief from the awful drudgery of moving. I always like a new environment, a new place. I think, though, that this is the last move for me. However, if it becomes necessary, I will go willingly.

    I like the color and tones you’ve used in these images. I wouldn’t like them for every photograph, but I think they are superb here. Of course, I love the cat.

    I believe you will enjoy your new home, Shimon. How far from the old neighborhood?

    • Nechama is still in my old home, being treated well by friends and relatives. I visit her about once a week, and miss her all the time. Glad you can understand my attitude to this move, and my self indulgency. I am sure that for some, I’m very hard to take… but as you know, after living life for a long time, hard times and good times… we get to know ourselves, and know just how much we can take. My new home will be just one neighborhood away from my old home. So I will have no trouble staying in touch with those close to me in the old neighborhood.
      The colors and the tones of photos 4, 5 and 6 are a gesture towards the great photographer, Joel Meyerowitz, who I used to use as an example when teaching photography some years ago. He started out as a street photographer, and then moved to an 8×10 camera, which he used with a tripod. I loved his work, both the black and white and the color. Thanks for the comment, George. Always good, exchanging thoughts and words with you.

      • I did not know of Meyerowitz. I looked at some of his photographs online. I understand what you were doing in the ones here. I am fascinated by his work, his continued enthusiasm and his skill. I enjoyed this video in which he talks about Kodachrome producing color like no other and about large format. Thank you very much for the introduction!

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-21188741

        • It’s a great pleasure to share his work. And thank you for putting the link in my blog… who knows, maybe some other curious soul will chance upon the comments, and enjoy the find.

  25. I always find myself reading your blog posts then going away for an hour or two, maybe even a day or two and coming back to them. I don’t feel like I can or want to comment immediately – I take the story/stories with me, and ponder on them for a while – something in the nature of your writing does this and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
    In the meanwhile I wish you well.

    • I consider that a great compliment, Claire… and am secretly grateful to you that you remember to come back, and don’t just forget about me after you’ve thought about the post for a while… I think I may have done that once or twice. I have actually been meaning to write a post in your honor for a month or two… and never got around to it till now. Because each time I sit down to write, something else pops into my mind. But I had a post planned about the use of allotments in my home town of Jerusalem. I already have the pictures, so I could actually do it, even though I’m in semi exile these days.

  26. Lovely invigorating colours and scenes, a real freshness about them, a new chapter beginning.. I do just the same as the commenter above, I often revisit here several times, there is such a richness to your writing and so full of thought provoking ideas..

  27. I was always an explorer too, Shimon. I liked to find new neighborhoods in other places I lived in and wander and wander–especially in ethnic markets where I could spend hours. I found that interaction with the cat hater quite ironic. Maybe you should get a big bus and take all the cats with you when you leave before she gets her hands on them! I’ve never seen all the cats in the streets that you photograph except when I lived abroad, and they all look healthy, unlike where I lived. I also love the photo of the sunlight hitting the bowl of citrus fruit with Georgia in the shadow; it reminds me of a painting. Beautiful…
    Leah x

    • Thank you so much, Leah. Jerusalem is very kind to cats… maybe because our city emblem is the lion of Judah, which is truly a big cat. Also, when the plague was tearing Europe apart, and killing off most of the population there, it came close, but never entered our city, because the cats scared the mice and the rats away. I liked that picture too… especially. Sometimes someone in the shadows… even a cat, can contribute more than a fully described image.

      • Oh, that’s interesting. I never knew the Plague spread past Europe and no wonder cats are so respected. My cat used to bring me huge, sewer rats that were as big as her when we lived back home. It was always a nice treat to deal with those presents!

        I like how you described that photo–that’s what makes you a photographer.

  28. You’ll have to visit Chile, where street dogs are de rigueur…they all seem well-fed too and well-loved by the community. They’re community dogs that belong to the community and everyone takes responsibility for them, leaving them their freedom to be, well, dogs! Part of Nature. Good luck, shimon, in your new home; your exploratory nature will make it easy to adjust. 🙂

    • Oh, I’m an old man, Janina… my traveling days are over. I now move less, and the world comes to me. But it’s good to hear that they know how to relate to dogs in Chile… and I would like to think that all living creatures are happy there. Thank you for your comment, and your good wishes. The process of moving seems to be taking a long time.

  29. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    Thank you for an enjoyable wandering about your temporary place to stay…
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

  30. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    HAPPINESS IS….FINDING A CAT!!!!

  31. Terrific photos and words also thanks for reblogging my “freight trains and boxcars- ana

    • Thank you for your comment, Ana. As it happens, I didn’t reblog your post. Jonathan Caswell did, and then you went to his blog, and saw a blog of mine which he also reblogged… all this reblogging can lead to confusion. But it did give me an opportunity to look at your blog, which reminded me of some very fine experiences I had when I visited your country in the 60s. In fact, I became personally acquainted with some of the people you mention in your blog… so it was fun to revisit old times. Thanks for coming by.

      • Hi- I think I understand the blog thing! I am actually English- I came to the U.S. in the late 60’s- so I have both hippie experiences- who are the people you met – I am most interested -your blog is most cool- best ana

        • I have no desire to bask in the sunshine of other people’s fame. But I did have some good luck when visiting California in those very intensive and romantic years, and meeting some people that were involved in some of the changes going on at that time. Very glad to meet you.

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