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You don't know what a forest is

Published on facebook (26/5/2018)

I had a Russian student once who did not adjust to Israel at all. In one of our many conversations I tried to understand what he doesn't have here that he misses so much. His answer was a forest. I replied that I understand, but then he explained, in the most beautiful Russian arrogance, that I don't. "You don't know what a forest is. You don't have real forests here, so you may read about them or saw them in pictures, but you don't know. Even if you visited a forest it is not the same. In order to know a forest you need to really be in it, to be in this amorous thing, to get lost in it. It isn't about the trees, it is about the feeling, so you don't know it".

I feel today the same about something that I call a love of a teacher. It is a strange kind of love that can be discussed from the outside, but understood only from inside. It is not like love of parents or siblings, not like love between friends or partners, but like them you really get to know it when experiencing it. It is a confusing emotion.

A deep care and excitement about people that you feel are yours, but knows they aren't. An undivided attention that keeps you up at night while being so divided to many. A love that has a well established frame, but hardly any borders, not even political, geographical or ethnic, as I learned so well. It is a strong sense of responsibility that makes you believe you can always always know how they are doing and help, but then they leave. It is a love with a constructed heartbreak.

Now another cohort of students is leaving and it is hard for me to explain my love and heartbreak. I understand that in a heartbeat I will move from seeing them almost all day long to not meeting most of them anymore. Some of them might visit or call and it will be exciting and strange. A few will stay in touch and might become friends. I might even forget some of their stories and names which were the dearest thing to me at time. This love won't disappear, but it will change it's form, it will stretch itself so much that I will ask myself again "is it renewable? can I do it again?"

And I will feel so lost in it and not a real part of it at the same time. I think it like being in a forest, but I don't know what it is.

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