Tuesday, November 30, 2010
For a long time, I've wanted to go to Poland, specifically to Krakow (correct pronunciation: Krah-koove). It's kind of a long story why. The short version is, it would be a roots trip, to reconnect with the landscape of some of my ancestors, specifically the ones who died in the Holocaust. My ancestors' shtetl was about fifty kilometers east of Krakow, close to Lvov, now a part of Ukraine.
There's nothing left of the shtetl except a railroad crossing, so, not much to see which is probably the reason I could not inspire in my siblings much enthusiasm about a journey to that now barren place. My brother said, "OK. Well, we could go to Ukraine ... or ... we could go swim with the whales in Maui." Put that way, I really got it, that my sibs (at least my brother) preferred to celebrate life rather than experience the landscape of the lost world of old Jewish eastern Europe.
My brother DID swim with the whales in Maui. From the pics and stories it looks like it was a great trip. L'chaim, Josh! Eventually, I put aside my hopes and dreams to connect with that land. There's no way I would go alone, no way. That was a few years ago.
Last night a dear friend told me she's planning to visit Poland sometime next year. As she regaled me with stories of past visits, my interest and enthusiasm for this journey returned. Last night in my dreams the ancestors showed up in force. When I think about going, I experience so many potent emotions, so much energy runs through me. There's no way to describe how I feel when I imagine putting my feet on the ground of eastern Poland, especially Krakow.
What good does it do to visit the old country? Why not choose instead to swim with the whales in Maui? What am I hoping to gain from such a journey? And how the heck can I afford to go? These are interesting questions I'm going to be thinking about today and for the next little while.
I'm kind of in awe this morning. You never know what's going to come up, you never know what will happen next. All I can say is: wow.