Thoughts from the Field: This is My Solo

In May 2013, the most recent cadre, Palestinian and Israeli women leaders, completed their catalyst expedition in Croatia. This expedition will be followed in the year ahead with workshops and two overseas four-day retreats ultimately introducing them to all of the program alumni in the region representing leaders of multiple sectors.

Immediately following the catalyst expedition we receive initial reflections sharing the raw Outward Bound experience which is universal. Below is an excerpt from one of the participants along with a photograph of her solo. The girls to whom she refers below are her fellow crew members, leaders from the region aged 25-45 including a balance of Israeli Jews and Palestinians from the West Bank and Israel.

This is my Solo

Croatia 30It’s almost dark and I’m sitting on the edge of my new tarp that I built by myself – a blue tarp in the middle of the green forest. It’s raining and I am thinking to myself that it’s nice like that because it probably means that all the animals that I am so afraid of will be hidden.

I’m listening to the sounds of the forest and imagining my music concert that I have a few weeks after we return home. Should I tell the audience about my night alone in the forest? Should I tell them that the sounds here are like music to my ears?

How can I explain this magic here? My life in Israel seems so far away and my upcoming concert does not seem possible. I have a really long night here and this is the part that I was so afraid of—to be alone in the forest!! Me?!

Today is my turn to be the leader. It’s funny that exactly on the day that I was so afraid of, I am the leader. When you’re the leader you have to give an example, so I guess that it gives me the strength to do it by myself.

It’s dark now and still raining. I close my eyes, preferring that it will be dark inside me. I imagine the girls’ laughter and imagine my grandfather; he will help me to get through this. I can see my tarp surrounded by a white light. I feel good and I go to sleep. In one hand I keep my whistle and in the other, my flashlight. I can’t believe that I am actually here!! Alone!!

I think that it’s late now and I wake up. I’m hearing strange sounds that I don’t recognize. I open my eyes for the first time tonight. It is so dark and still raining (of course). Okay, so I will go back to sleep and maybe the sounds will go away. “Don’t turn on the flashlight! Think about music! Think about the rest of the group! If I hear the sound one more time I am leaving!… But maybe it will be too late???”

I am leaving!! Grabbing my shoes and running. “Michelle (instructor), please wake up, I can’t do this!” Its 2 o’clock in the morning and she is coming with me to take my stuff.

I move to the main tarp, hearing some other girls snoring and I feel so safe, so loved.

It’s morning and I am going in silence to my solo tarp. I cannot believe that I did it! Even though it was just until 2 o’clock a.m., I stayed 9 hours alone in the forest! For someone who is so afraid to stay even in Tel Aviv alone, I did it!!