Adventures in the Middle East and Europe - My Family Travels

According to Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, the hero cycle motif is defined as a path from the self to a new identity. In order to grow, the hero must learn and develop through his/her experiences and surroundings. There are numerous types of journeys: including quests for love, for vengeance, for safety, and for identity. This theory applies to J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, Lord of the Rings, and directly relates to my personal journey to Israel, Jordan,Turkey and Germany during the summer of 2008. My personal quest involved family bonding and searching for identity in the Promised Land.

Bilbo Baggins had not a worry in the world besides what his next meal would be, until the ‘Wise Old Man’ Gandalf, informed Bilbo of his great potential for heroism. I began my journey much like the little hobbit did; swiftly, inexperienced, and to unfamiliar lands. Bilbo was accompanied by strange creatures and a wizard, while I was fortunate enough to travel with my younger sisters, father and grandmother. My grandfather had passed away this year and my grandmother was on her own quest.

As a vital part in any journey motif, challenges arise to test the hero. Bilbo fought a dragon and temptation over a powerful ring, showed mercy for a poor creature, and put his purpose above his needs. My challenges, no less demanding, included: courage and perseverance in the scorching 125 0F desert, empathizing at the ancient Masada hilltop (site of a Great Jewish Revolt and mass suicide), patience with speaking and learning foreign languages, tolerance for schedule changes, overcoming my innate and unfounded prejudices and developing respect toward diverse cultures and religions. I spent time with Druze, Bedouins, Israelis, Jordanians, Turks, Germans, and Jews, Christians and Muslims from many countries.

We listened to Torah stories in the Ashkenazi synagogue in Tzfat, Israel. In Wadi Rum, Jordan my family and I joined the Bedouins under their desert tent for some warm tea and in Istanbul, Turkey we covered our heads as we admired the adorned walls of the Blue Mosque. For every city we visited, we were engulfed by a rich, alluring atmosphere, new languages, foods and traditions – I learned the value in difference and to not prejudge. This journey helped me appreciate the strength and fortitude of my family as from young to old we trekked through deserts, climbed sand hills, scuba dived with dolphins and coral in the Red Sea, floated in the water and drank (accidently) the salt of the Dead Sea, and coated ourselves in hot, mineral-filled mud. Together we battled Jerusalem traffic, rafted the Jordan River, explored and got lost in the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, crawled through water tunnels in the Old City of David, and prayed for my Grandfather at the Western Wall.

As any enticing hero’s tale, Bilbo Baggins had a mentor: Gandalf the Wizard, who assisted the hobbit on his quest. My well-traveled father was my mentor, making sure that we became learned about the places we visited and the people we met along the way. As Bilbo Baggins’ journey abroad ended, and as they all must, my closure came all too soon. As Carl Jung wisely stated, the hero must learn and develop in order to grow, as I have. Through my experiences and challenges I developed a more powerful relationship with my sisters, father, and grandmother. Koach means strength in Hebrew. I didn’t realize it before we left, but my “vacation” was actually a quest for Koach. Physical, emotional, psychologic strength of character came from broadening my horizons and provided the adventures of a lifetime.

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1 Reply to “Adventures in the Middle East and Europe”

  • RachelTaube

    Those countries sound fascinating…how long was your trip? Did your grandmother find what she was looking for?

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