One of the first blogs I wrote about my Aliyah experience was a basic explanation of why we moved to Hannaton, and centered around our desire to live in an intentional community. I wrote this post less than a month after landing in Israel and only 12 days into our life on Hannaton.
I was in bliss mode.
Are you familiar with that method of operation?
* The first three months with your new boyfriend.
* The day before you marry your husband.
* The first two weeks your newborn baby is in the world. When he is so exhausted from birth he sleeps all the time. And you are still surrounded by friends and family who want to feed you and hold the baby.
* The first month at your new job. The one with the new title and the higher salary.
* The minutes after the editor accepts your pitch, but ten months and ten revisions before the piece is actually ready to submit.
* The first week in your new apartment, your new neighborhood. When you are absolutely, positively sure you made the best decision EVER!
When I look back at that post from January 2011, I can see how some of my friends and family back in New Jersey were upset with me. Put off by what they interpreted as my comparison between how I saw community here on Hannaton (“desired,” “nurtured,” “preserved”) and my all but outright trashing of community “back in America.”
Sorry about that. That was crappy of me. I would have been pissed off at me too.
Some of the less personally insulted friends and family, however, might have read the post and thought, “Ha! Give it time. You’re still in bliss mode, silly.”
I do that sometimes when someone is clearly operating in bliss mode.
And those seeming cynics would have been right.
The same way my brother-in-law — the one who told me and my husband in the first months of our courtship: “You two are very cute. Enjoy it while it lasts.” — was right.
Except, they’re not cynics. Not really.
His was not intended as a warning or a prediction or a buzz kill. It wasn’t a commentary on his own marriage or the strength of mine and my husband’s relationship or love for each other.
It’s just the truth.
Bliss mode begins and it ends.
It is scientifically proven.
And, as the researchers say, if we were constantly in bliss mode, we would never get anything done.
Think about it. Bliss mode is not sustainable.
Think about how much focused attention and energy it takes to build and maintain relationships; to create and raise a family; to build and sustain community; to develop a successful business.
If we were constantly in bliss mode … never in “Hey! You smell like cow manure all the time” mode … we would be so focused on our personal bliss that we couldn’t see the areas in which our situation could be improved.
Room for improvement doesn’t cancel out bliss.
It just reframes it.
And so I remind myself of this when I step in dog poop on my sidewalk for the 50th time this week. And I remind myself of this when I get yelled at and honked at by an impatient driver, who happens to also be my neighbor. And I remind myself of this as my kids track in mud to my living room…and as your kids track in mud to my living room…and then they all eat shlukim (ice pops) on my new couch and spit out the wrappers onto the floor.
I remind myself that just because it’s no longer bliss…doesn’t mean it’s no longer love.
The best bliss is one that transforms into a loving and long-term attachment; a dedicated and loyal commitment.
Yes: Gorgeous sunsets over grassy hills and hot sex in inappropriate settings are bliss-scented bonuses that keep us warm during metaphorically cold, dark winter periods in our relationships — whether those relationships are with our partners or with our communities.
But attachment and commitment are what surely sustain us.
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. She posted the above on her blog on Oct. 23, 2012. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/