zaterdag 15 juni 2013

Breaking Out

What? This blog is still alive?...yeah, sort of.

Seeing as I will be leaving for Israel again tomorrow, it was high time I finally wrote something for the blog. Unfortunately, life has been grabbing me by the ankles for the past few months, preventing me from making any headway with all the items I had planned for the blog. But with so many people asking me whether I will keep one again this season, there`s really no reason for me not to do so. I`ve had a few ideas that have fallen by the wayside and which I may attempt to resurrect during the coming excavation, but for now I want to focus – in fact I only seem able to focus – on my impending departure to Israel.

When reflecting on what I wrote a year ago, it`s striking how much the feeling is exactly the same: I am still going over the list in my head  for a seventh time just to make sure that I do indeed have everything. I also still can`t wait to start my trip by train to the airport, but much more than last year, this feeling is taking full control of my mind. I can`t plan any further ahead than unpacking my gear and setting up shop in the field lab. All the common concerns of the rest of the household just seem like static noise to me and I can`t help but feel like a caged animal, as if everyday life`s chains still pin me to everyday dullness as I have to sit and wait in the knowledge that many of my friends already have their boots on the ground at the shore of Lake Kinneret. Seeing photos of them at work isn`t doing much to soothe the feeling of being like a caged lion. But tonight, I can finally break the bars, tear those chains out of the ground and take off into a world of scholarly practice, sun, heat and good times. More so than ever during my preparations for the coming season am I looking forward to making new friends and revisiting old ones. There`s Taybeh, Maccabee, araq, chicken and wasp-infested tuna to help me get on with the days.

Packed up and ready to go!
Nevertheless, I`ll miss my family, the cats, the dog and friends that I have to leave at home or will not be seeing in Israel. But it is all part of the experience of traveling long and far abroad. You don`t just go somewhere to see some nice sights or do something interesting: you travel to experience the feeling of being transported from one ‘world’ into another. You travel to change your perspective on life, to become a more fully-rounded human being. Travel is just as much about finding hardship as it is about finding joy; it`s about finding differences and similarities so that you better understand and appreciate the world around you. In the case of archaeological fieldwork, you add a chronological dimension to it.

On one of the train stations in the Netherlands there`s an old piece of verse. Freely translated, it goes something like this: While traveling one experiences the stranger side of life: it`s so different and varied, yet everywhere it remains the same. As travelers, archaeologists, historians and religious studies scholars, our eventual goal is to gain a profound understanding of this wisdom.

On a less philosophical note, it`s time for me to go slow-roast in the scorching heat, take pictures of dirt and lug around stones from. I`m finally going to see all the Dear People of Horvat Kur again (Gods, how I`ve missed that sentence)…

Signing off,

The Lost Dutchman

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