Friday, February 27, 2015

Looking the devil in the eye - An Ode to Adva

I am not easily impressed. Perhaps this is a part of growing old and grumpy. And I must admit that after being married for 37+ years, I take many things for granted.  But there are times when something causes me to sit up and take notice.

Adva, my wife, is turning 60 this year. Many of us have already crossed this milestone and have the scars to prove it. But Adva isn't one to wallow in self pity. Nor wait in trepidation while counting down the days to this ominous date. Rather, she decided to grab the bull by the balls and look the devil straight in the eye. She would turn an ominous and unstoppable event into an opportunity.

I only knew about her plans to set out on the Magma Challenge to Costa Rica after she had successfully passed all of the tests and had been accepted as a participant. Was I surprised by her decision? Not really. Despite the rugged conditions that she was about to face, I knew that Adva was never one to refuse a challenge. Ever since we left the kibbutz, 25 years ago, she has sought out and faced many challenges, and never retreated from any of them. People can usually think of countless reasons to give up on the challenge of obtaining the things that they desire in life, but Adva is not one to fall back on such excuses, even when competing in a man's world. It was therefore fitting that she set out on her most recent challenge in the company of women - on a rugged adventure trip through the beautiful landscape of Costa Rica. Split up into teams of four, each team commandeered their own Land Cruiser, navigating their way through the challenges that awaited them. And to add icing to the cake, Adva's team was voted the best team by the majority of the participants. A one in a lifetime experience they won't forget.

Adva, in her own modesty, was surprised at the interest her journey ignited among her facebook friends. What she didn't realize was that her journey caught our imagination. For those of us seeking the courage to take back some control over our own lives, her journey is an inspiration.

I've always had an affinity for strong women, ever since my first girlfriend - a self proclaimed feminist - took it upon herself to show me the error of my ways. I imagine that Adva got much of her strength from her mother. Titi was a strong woman, albeit a little scary. There is a rumour that she told me, when Adva first took me to meet her parents, that she had a semi-automatic Uzi under her bed and knew how to use it. I took her seriously, for she was a no nonsense lady and knew how to get what she wanted. In her days in the Palmach, when there was no officer's course for women, Titi simply joined the one for men. No one dared tell her otherwise. And she was a true Sabra: prickly on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside. The key to being strong is also being a good person,

We learn a lot through 37+ years of marriage. We set out thinking what should be, but then continually rediscover what is. Moving in different directions does not necessarily mean drifting apart, but rather redefines our concept of companionship. And the key to companionship is still being able to encourage each other in our endeavours, especially in what is most important to each of us.

In reaching 61 this year, I said to myself, "Been there, done that, what's the point?" But then I realized that it was all up to me. Either I become my worst enemy or my best friend. And I have Adva to thank for inspiring me to realize that we still have journeys before us and wonders to explore.


  1. Beautiful! Double beautiful - Kudos once to Adva for all that she does, and once to you for giving her the credit she deserves!
    May you have many great years together!

  2. A sense of gratitude a for what you both have and give is heartwarming and enviable.
    Very best wishes
    Steve Hellmann