Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 69

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I left my cabin this morning, heading towards breakfast with my head down, staring at the ground, lost in thought, probably thinking about whether or not they’ll have the eggs I like or where my wedding ring might be or should I have rented a car instead of relying on someone else driving me around today. The answers to those questions, by the way were: yes, no idea and no. A week from today, if airplane technology doesn’t fail me, I will be walking with my head down, lost in thought, wondering if it was a bad idea to schedule a meeting with a network an hour after I land, where is my camera and will I be able to lose the weight I gained on my two week tour through the dessert table. The answer to those questions will be: Yes, no idea and no.

The difference between then and now, of course, is that if I had looked up this morning, I would have seen the sun coming up over the Sea of Gallilee and a week from now I will be day dreaming in bumper to bumper 8 a.m. traffic that will take me 25 minutes to move a mile to drop my still-sleeping kids off at school. This tremendous waste of my environment was brought to my attention when I stumbled upon a prayer that talks about being “burdened with blessings”. It was hard for me to understand the burden of blessings. I know people say it’s a curse to be born rich, but I really believe I could handle it. In fact, I could handle it right now if the Powers That Be want to toss that curse my way 45 years out of the womb. On my way back to Second Breakfast, I looked up and noticed the rolling green hills that were dotted with orchards. The same hills that took my breath away when I got here five days ago, and I realized the burden of blessings. Things are so comfortable for me, that I have to search for things to worry about.

Yesterday, our guide, the fantastic and energetic and impossibly young Franny said that she preferred the desert to the mountains. My wife and I immediately countered that we felt the opposite: up here in the mountains we were surrounded by waterfalls and wild flowers, the desert is just sand. Franny said that’s why she loves the desert: when you come upon a flower or a stream it’s amazing, here in the mountains, it’s just everywhere. And that made me think: Screw you, Franny, I’m not paying you to be right, I’m paying you to show me old things that I can force my kids to be interested in. Anyway, of course, Franny was right– stupid Franny always young and right– the mountains are the burden of blessings. It made me realize that some day I will get the worst phone call of my life, so I should appreciate the fact that right now my biggest issue is a daughter who’s anxious and sometimes they don’t have the eggs I like. (I wonder if they’ll have them tomorrow morning).

So today, armed with my new appreciation of life and my adorable kids, I left Sasha at home to recuperate with Shawni– our bedroom sounded like a TB ward last night with all of the coughing– while Caleb and I hitched onto a tour to see something ancient and something wet. As a fellow boy, Caleb is easy for me to get: if he’s happy it’s because he’s distracted, if he’s cranky it’s because he’s tired or hungry (the drive for girls is not yet in him but I know that’s going to be a big one for him). Midway between our drive from a natural spring (wet) and a 2,000 year old village (old) the guy sitting next to Caleb in the back of the pickup truck we hitched a ride on said, “Caleb, you are really a well-behaved boy.” I knew that he had just set the time for an impending meltdown but I took the compliment at the time.

The guy went on to say that yesterday he shared a car with a kid Caleb’s age who was screaming the whole way. “And the mother had such patience I wanted to throw the kid out of the car.” It was the second time I had heard the term “patience” used vis-a-vis parenting. The first time, of course, was from the crazy man on the plane who admired my patience, and here it was used as a pejorative. Of course, midway through this story, Caleb started crying that he was tired and hungry and wanted to go home. In order to impress my new friend I had the instinct to throw Caleb out of the car, but that would be a hard story to tell Shawni so I just held Caleb close to me and said, “Don’t ruin this for daddy!” No, of course I didn’t say that, but I did tell him to rest against me, and when that didn’t work, I gave him my iphone to play with: he’s going to grow up to stare at the ground, too, but I didn’t know what else to do.

When we got back to our cabin, Sasha was well rested, she danced up to the bar to pick up her food, which made me happy to no end. Her bonding with Mommy relaxed her and gave her a great day which I could take personally, “Why wouldn’t spending the day with Daddy make her feel this way?!” but I answered my question with the tone of my question. Anyway, I’m going to really try to appreciate my blessings– which of course, are my children– and my burdens– being a better father to said blessings– and really, really try not to sweat the small stuff. In the meantime, I’m going to try to watch the sun set over the Gallilee. But not before I email my agent to find out what meetings he has for me when I get back, and also to find out if the dining room has that chicken I like. Baby steps.


Written by 100daysoff

April 22, 2011 at 7:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Loved it. Have a safe journey.


    April 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

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