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Double vision

For those who live in Israel but were born somewhere else, a sense of dualism permeates every part of our being

This morning I finally stopped and told them. “You have no idea that seeing you every morning brings me great happiness – you are spectacular phenomena of nature!” Two identical faces smiled two identical smiles, belonging to two women who appear to be in their 70’s, identical twins who take daily early morning walks in the Kfar Saba Park. Over several years of morning runs I’ve seen them and smiled to myself, but today when I told them and they smiled at me and thanked me for sharing this with them I was flooded with joy and this joy ran through my body, into my heart, and accelerated my step. The beauty of their sameness is miraculous. Seeing double was literal.

As I moved on through the park my double vision continued. To the West the full Elul moon was still shining bright, to the East the sun was rising and breaking through the clouds. I ran between them, connecting them, balancing them, conscious of the two globes reminding me of the season. In the moon I saw Rosh Hashanah approaching and Sukkot to come with the next full moon. The sun grounded me with its faithfulness, rising as it should, mirroring the moon with me as the axis.

Double vision comes with the territory for people like me, those who live in Israel but were born somewhere else. So does quoting the poetry of Yehuda Amichai. In his poem “Once a Great Love” Amichai describes emotional double vision:

Once a great love cut my life in two.
The first part goes on twisting
at some other place like a snake cut in two.

The passing years have calmed me
and brought healing to my heart and rest to my eyes.

And I’m like someone standing in the Judean desert, looking at a sign:
“Sea Level”
He cannot see the sea, but he knows.

Thus I remember your face everywhere
at your “face Level.”

If you’re like me and you love Israel you’ve probably already had your eyes checked. To live in one place and belong to another inspires a chronic case of double vision. Living in the States I lived with the “Sea Level” sign of Israel in front of me at all times – in my heart, in my work, in my home. Now that I live in Israel my consciousness of being far from the culture that formed me and the family that raised me, “Sea Level” is remembering the place I’m not part of but still partake of. I cannot see the sea but I know.

My father has double vision. In advanced stage Parkinson’s disease, his eyes are affected. He has tried glasses but they don’t help. He moves the paper closer and farther away yet he still sees double. Double also describes his tenses of being – he has lost the third tense, the future. He lives fully in the present, the minutes of each day ticking by slowly, consumed with taking care of his physical needs. Yet his mind sees the past but not the future. We remember the past together as we sit in the present, double vision, my vision is double, too, as I remember a man who was vibrant but see a man who is drained. The future cannot be seen yet it is there.

As we move into the month of Tishre which starts with Rosh Hashanah, let us use our eyes to focus, to see clearly, to see past, present, and future with the full awareness that seeing double is inherent in who we are as human beings.

About the Author
Roslyn Roucher is Executive Director or Educational Development at Israel Experts, an educational travel company. In her spare time she runs and observes the world.