Laura Ben-David
Sharing Israel with the world through my lens
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Life lessons learned from a hike

My recent ramble through Israel's hilly countryside is just what the doctor would have ordered, so I've turned it into a self-help guide for you too

Did you ever have one of those days where you set goals that are hopelessly unachieved? This can make you feel frustrated; disappointed in yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to. Sometimes it’s just a matter of re-calibrating your goals to feel your day was a success. Like this day:

My friend Shoshanna and I needed a break. We were both under a mountain of work, pressure, and expectations. We were feeling stuck, and frustrated in the process, and needed to get out and “turn off.” While we were out and “turned off,” we were astounded at the rich array of lessons and understandings that came to us almost inadvertently, and made the path forward so much clearer.

The path forward… (Laura Ben-David)

We arrived early in the morning at a lovely hiking spot smack in between our two hometowns. As we set off on our hike, we were surprised and disappointed to find the path damp, the stones slippery. We hadn’t even realized it rained… We carried on anyway, carefully of course, until we got to a muddy puddle.

As we looked at the puddle that stretched across the entire path and puzzled out our next steps, one of us came up with this simple truth: Sometimes you have to get off the path to get on the path. It was so simple and yet it was genius. And so many applications in life. Even our hike that day was, in a sense, us “getting off the path to get back on it.”

Lesson learned: Sometimes a detour is best way forward.

Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, enjoying a moment of sanity and clarity. (Laura Ben-David)

We continued to walk and saw a surprising plethora of early wildflowers. I badly wanted to photograph them, but most were tucked into patches of thorns and facing the direction that made it much more difficult to access them. Shoshanna commented that it was a shame that we can’t take pictures.

A surprising discovery: Wildflowers blooming in December. (Laura Ben-David)

“What do you mean?” I said to her in surprise. “Of course we can take the pictures. It will just be more difficult.”

I then proceeded to get down on the rocks and dirt and, literally, lie in thorns, and put myself at whatever angle I needed to to get the shots I wanted.

Sitting on a thorn bush… What’s a few thorns in your bum when you’ve got an image to capture? (Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll)

We encounter challenges everywhere in our lives. Some are more difficult to overcome. But there are few things that are truly insurmountable if we are willing to put in the time and effort required.

Lesson learned: Obstacles in the way are merely obstacles. It’s how we react that matters.

A ruined fortress in the valley below beckoned us. White stone against the lush green of the grass and trees seemed an oasis, a place to shut out the chaos. We wanted to go, but with the slick ground and steep decline, we felt it best to wait for another day. The understanding that it wasn’t the right time, while we both had that castle in our sights, also taught us something.

Lesson learned: If circumstances mean that you can’t achieve a goal right now, keep it in mind for when the time is right.

In the distant valley below, the ruins we wanted to explore… (Laura Ben-David)

And the final lesson we both took from the day is that sometimes you think you want something and that thing just doesn’t work out. In the end, you may end up with something completely different… and it may have been just the thing you needed.

Early-blooming wildflowers. (Laura Ben-David)

Photos taken at Nahal Sorek and Wadi Katlav. Click here for more of Laura Ben-David’s Israel photos.

About the Author
Laura Ben-David is a photographer, public speaker and Israel advocate. Inspired by her Aliyah experience, Laura began writing and never stopped. She is the author of the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has spoken all over the world about Israel, Aliyah and other topics, often with beautiful photographic presentations. Formerly the head of social media at Nefesh B'Nefesh, Laura is the director of marketing at Shavei Israel as well as a marketing consultant.
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