Naami Ganz

Brush Strokes

They say that nothing in life is black and white, only various shades of gray. What a dreary and bleak way of viewing our world. I may be young, but I have had enough life experience so far to understand that things are almost never as simple as they seem, and I know that even the smallest shift in perspective has the power to turn everything upside down. That isn’t to say that things can never be black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. There are some things that certainly are, but in terms of gray, there is so much more to life, and personally, I see it all in color.

It is almost like a visual euphony of different shades and tones, all swirling around together, creating the most beautiful and vibrant masterpiece. And no one color stands on its own. Edges of color blend into the one beside it, creating pigments and hues that even Renoir could not have imagined.

Today I caught glimpses of this masterpiece that is being painted right now. It is currently day 12 of this war, and everyone is still trying to figure out how to get through each day. How to make sense of what is going on. How to help in whatever way they can. There are money campaigns, supply collections, and lots of cooking for chayalim. There are security drills, and scattered zoom classes, and lots of Google spreadsheets. There are funerals, and explosions, and oh so many tears. But at the very same time, there are new babies being born (as their father’s watch on over video calls), and a surprising number of weddings taking place (in every possible makeshift venue).

It seems almost wrong that there should be any form of joy right now, but the truth is, we need it more than anything else. We need opportunities to remember the beauty of life. Moments to stick it to those who wish to destroy us by showing them that we are here and that we will carry on. Above all else, we use these times to bond, to work together, to express our love for one another, and most importantly, to take a part in something that is so much bigger than ourselves.

Today I am a wedding cake baker. It doesn’t matter that I have no training, that I’ve never made a wedding cake before, or that I don’t even know who is getting married. All I know is that today someone needs me to make them this cake, and I am so there. I feel grateful for knowing that good things still happen. I feel grateful that for the first time in days I have a chance to focus my frantic energy and desperation to help onto something happy, and of equal or maybe even greater significance. I feel grateful to be a part of an initiative to help a couple, whose names I do not even know, have the most beautiful wedding that they can under these circumstances. I feel grateful to be a part of a people who will drop everything and do what they can for their brother.

I take a break from baking to pick up my son and another boy from gan. The other boy’s dad has been away for almost two weeks now, and his mom has a flat tire. She had asked me if I could also take the food that she had cooked for the chayalim and drop it off at the collection point. When I get to the gan, the parking lot is full, so I pull over on the side of the road and ask my daughter to run in and get the boys. Once she hops out of the car, another friend whose husband is in miluim asks me to pick up her son too. I wait until the first set of boys gets into the car, and I send my daughter back to get the other boy. I begin the drop offs and my phone rings again. The food needs to be dropped off NOW. I say a hurried goodbye to my friend, run to drop off the other boy, and get the hand off of food from his sister. I drive a few blocks and pull up alongside people packing up their car with food. I roll down my window and hand over what I have. And then I keep going.

Our days are busy and urgent, running from one need to the next, but today, today I felt like a part of the painting. The space that I took up was small and thin, but I got to be there. I was perhaps a hint of violet over a splash of a red creating magenta, and I saw each interaction as another paint stroke. I felt alive. I felt the beauty of life amidst the horrors. I felt my brush strokes overlapping with those of others’ and I was proud. Not of myself, but of the people that I belong to.

About the Author
Balancing life's daily responsibilities with the compulsive tug she feels towards creative pursuits, Naami spends most of her time in the kitchen surrounded by words, baking supplies, glue guns, markers, her loving family and the occasional power tool. She is easily identified in a crowd by the flour on her shirt and the paint on her hands.
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