This is the first piece from the “The Exile Dispatches” series, written while temporarily outside of Israel.

How cold the days here. An interesting musing, as a suffocating heat wave has finally subsided. How distant the people here. A curious thought, as I move through the crowded metropolitan streets. How thick the insulation between beings orbiting about each other in shared space. How weak the connections between individuals whose energy has been sapped. How vivid the diffusion of color, rendering rods and cones an obsolete development of evolution.

Where is my coffee shop, its lively chatter wrestling with its experimental melodies? Here, the mood is tame, almost anesthetized. Where is my market, its visceral chaos fusing seamlessly into authentic human interaction? Here, grids and protocol neutralize chance. Etiquette conceals honesty. Manners conceal truth. Life, once breathed into these vessels, seeps out slowly, painfully, with a wheeze of resignation. It is prelude to a premature death rattle.

Here, Time is but a single minute, divided solely by obligations and light. “The point” is dulled by routine. “The edge” is feared to crumble beneath one’s feet. “The meaning” is lost amid the towering skyscrapers of Babel. When reaching for the depth of society, one stares at, then shatters his reflection atop the fragile surface, his fingernails dirtied quickly by the muddy bottom. He who dares dig is led through dark passages of liberation, en route to foreign lands of this world and the next. Often naked and alone, it is a true rebirth.

Thrice daily, the contemporary ritual of casually synopsizing raw wounds of primitive belligerence, their pain diluted by blueprints of “what to eat,” “what to wear,” “what to do,” “what to be.” The settling dust, obscuring an unimaginable reality, creates a film atop these bread and circuses. Like vampires, invited into the homes of millions, only to prey on the ignorant or indifferent. How tight the grip of the vice of willful submission. How calloused the hands of he who tries to break others from their shackles.

It appears that the assumption of absolute freedom only frees the individual from responsibility, removing any obligation to the human collective. Which way forward from the perceived pinnacle of self-determination? Which way back from this delusion? Where is the wave to wash away the footprints of this path gone so far astray? How great it must be.

Searching for a rooftop where I can bare my chest and scream, I find none tall enough. Instead, I listen to the quiet voice of consolation that speaks to me from within. It is a hymn from the symphony of every fiber of my being. The sweetest of honey-lipped serenades about a reunification of body and soul.

How I long for you, Israel, my beloved land.