I was talking to Shmulik yesterday about life after the army, marriage, and a bit about his memories. He was driving and somehow we got into talking about the scariest moment ever driving. I know clearly what was mine…I was driving up north to the Golan Heights just after dawn to pick Elie up and bring him home for Shabbat.
He had accumulated too much stuff and had planned to start bringing some of it home after about 6 months up there…I don’t really remember how long it was, but it was a while…and suddenly, the army shifted gears and told him he was moving to a training base in the south. He made a comment about how he had no idea how he was going to manage getting all his stuff home and to the new base and I decided to take some time for myself. I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and started the 2+ hour drive, aiming to be at his base before 7:00 a.m.
I was cruising along fast on the deserted road, enjoying the growing light peaking out over the Jordanian hills. I saw a swirl of wind and dust kick up a cloud off the road to my right and then saw a much larger cloud ahead of me blurring the road.
There was that split second before the panic hit – when I thought about how cool it was that this cloud swirl was actually touching the road…when I realized the cloud had hundreds of little feet…the Arabs were moving their sheep across the road and I was expected to stop and yield.
I did – fast and no damage to sheep, car, me.
Shmulik laughed at the memory – and told me some of his scary moments. Of fog so thick, he could barely see and the fear that a driver would come along and hit them from the rear and some other memories of places he had been to while in the army.
“What do you think of your time in the army?” I asked him.
The one word he thought of was “fun” – he was a driver for a combat commander. He saw so much of Israel, drove the roads in good weather and bad, night and day. Fun. No, for those who would write to say there is something wrong – for most of the army Shmulik didn’t carry a gun (though his commander did and Shmulik often had “custody” of it and was trained to use it. Fun – because he loves driving and got to see many places.
There are many natural springs in Israel – less than in many places, but still some beautiful places. His commanding officer sometimes took him to places like this. “Did you go swimming?” I asked him – some are indeed deep enough to swim in.
“No, but I could wash my face, or step into it.” Fun. Nice memories.
That’s what life is – a collection of good memories. Tonight begins the holiday of Hanuka. It is the essence of who we are – outnumbered, but determined. Victorious against evil. Triumphant in our land. One tradition is to eat jelly donuts – they’ve been on the store shelves for weeks and I’ve resisted buying them. Today, the Israeli army will distribute 385,000 donuts to our soldiers. Fun.