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My canvas theory

How a metaphor stopped her stress about the future and gave her confidence that it will all work out

So here I find myself, dressed in green as per usual, chilling in my room before my next mission, and chatting away to a good friend from Australia about life, news, family and gashmius — as you do when Skype calls. As we talk I over-check my ammunition to make sure my magazines are full and I won’t ‘chotef b’rosh’ (lit. get hit in the head i.e. punished) in the case of my head-officer whipping out a random equipment check on us soldiers during patrol.

A catch up is always necessary and we chat away happily – and alls good and dandy and fine… up until my friend whips out the question:

“Wait, so what are your plans after the army?”

Ah shit. Not this again. My face drops its smile, my hands stop searching for the sole bullet missing from my vest, and I feel that mind fog slowly seep its way back through my ears and into my brain, polluting my system with the screaming confrontation of “what the **** is my next step?!”

As my friend innocently awaits what she assumes is a simple reply, panic has left the disco and has made its way to me.

I’m at the stage of my service where things are slowly coming to an end and it’s dawning on me that I should probably more or less have an idea of where I’m heading after that wonderous day when I cut the shite out of my choger and become a simple citizen of this country. Oh, the possibilities are endless — I could sail the world, I could find a job that plays on my talents, I could study anywhere, anything, anyhow and anywhy simply because the world is my oyster and soon I’ll be free.

The problem, you see, is that I’ve never dealt with oyster. Haven’t eaten one, haven’t touched one, haven’t observed one from afar — heck I wouldn’t know an oyster if it hit me on the head and spat a pearl into my eye. As I’m having trouble oyster fathoming as it is – the world being an oyster of mine isn’t any consolation for me. At this moment I’m feeling lost.

A few years ago I held an army exemption in my hand. I had applied to the IDC of Herzliya and had entered a wonderfully bubble of English speakers in Israel that was comfortable and easy to roam around in. I was going to study in English and communicate in English and forever be known to Israelis as an olah chadasha. It was a good option and I felt ready to start studying and get a move on with my life. Instead I steered the reigns to a different path, joined the IDF and added that much more colour and significance to my life — something for which I will forever be grateful.

You see for me — as a fan of the arts — I like to think of life as a canvas. You start with all your colours lined up on a pallet, a brush in your hand and a significantly large blank canvas waiting for your touch. Every experience you take on adds a new colour, texture and pattern — forming a beautiful tapestry before your eyes that at any moment you can stop to appreciate and reflect upon to your heart’s content. You splash on some army green because it strikes a bold contrast against other shades and seems to reshape the entire canvas. You use bold, mesmerizing and unique hues because those colours will add new complexions to the painting at hand. I’m running with my metaphor here — but my point is that as the painter with the brush in your hand, you’re in control of the canvas before you.

I guess you could say your canvas is your oyster (#gamechanger) and as I write this I feel this warmth of content spread through my system because firstly, having options is always a good thing, but more importantly because I know that whatever choice I make with the upcoming army-release — the choice will be right and it’ll add new colour to the painting that is my life.

So here I find myself, in the middle of a Skype call with a friend from over the seas having been asked a question that moments ago filled me with dread. As my fingers close around that darned bullet that lost itself in my vest, a feeling of calm soothes my senses and the oyster that is my world transforms into the canvas I’ve been getting a kick out of painting on my whole life.

“I’ll work it out,” I reply after that epiphany brings me back to my Skype call. “I have my options and my canvas at the ready” — and though that answer might have her thinking that I’ve misunderstood her question or completely lost the plot, it doesn’t faze me too much because clarity is a mind cleanser and I’m an artist with a brush in my hand and an endless supply of colour to apply to the canvas before me.

I end my Skype call, put my army vest aside and whip that paintbrush out of my pocket. And on that note — if you’ll excuse me — I got a painting to get back to.

Shavua tov!

About the Author
Just your average ex-Australian olah chadasha, currently serving in the IDF, who enjoys expressing thoughts and opinions based on daily life experiences and the ups-and-downs of living in a land of milk and honey.