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The Many Kinds of Sky


Someone told me that when you learn a new language, you learn a new culture. It is amazing how differently I learn to see the world with different words. I am more cognizant of how I use words and about communication in general, even reflecting on my English habits, which before I took for granted. Communication just was what it was, another part of my singular reality.

I have mastered a look of "ok, I know what you are saying," which I use a lot during the day when someone is speaking to me in Hebrew and I haven't a clue what they are saying. It's too much work in various situations to bother disappointing them with my lack of understanding. I just smile. Accept when someone is yelling it me, then I don't smile.

If there is a material consequence to the communication, then I eventually tell them that they need to start over in English. Puppy dog eyes help in these situations. It's amazing how much someone will say and not realize the smiling lady on the other side doesn't know what they mean. It's very hard to interrupt, and I am generally polite, so I just wait.

And then there are times when I get a glimpse of the beauty of the Hebrew language, and how much it will open my soul to know this ancient, but new-to-me dialect. In Hebrew, when a singular word is made plural, it often ends in the sound "eem". A boy, "yeled" becomes "yeledeem" when it is for multiple boys. I noticed that the Hebrew word for sky is "shamayeem" which is plural. And the word for water is "mayeem", also plural. And the word for face is "paneem", yep, again plural!

How fantastic this is! When talking about the sky, water, or your face, those words are always plural. To me this means that the sky, which I have only ever considered to be singular, is vast, and changing. Of course there are many kinds of sky! Sometimes they are stormy, calm, bright or pink. And water, in its simplicity, is, or rather are, many kinds of water too. The Mediterranean Sea out my window here, and Lake Erie over there, and the water in my cup, and the dew on the leaf, and the tear on my new neice's cheek are all different kinds of water.

Lastly, the face, "paneem". How did I ever think I have one face? I am made up of many faces, frustrated, loving, confused, hopeful, sleeping, laughing, painted, honest. And guess what, your "paneem" has many faces too. We all do. I also learned that the word, "paneema", derived of course from "paneem", means inside, like what we feel inside. Our faces show our many emotions and our complexities. Our "paneem" is the meeting point, or points, with which we engage the world.

And those, my loves, are my words for today.


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