I’ve joined a co-housing group and through a democratic process was elected Chair of the Site & Design Committee. This position forces me to talk to real estate agents, architects, developers, and lawyers as we search for a site to create the first co-housing in Israel.  A retired architect-developer told me that, before you settle on a particular site,  it’s important to ask yourself what your goal is for the next ten or twenty years. “Then you have to position yourself in a place,” he explained, “so that you can achieve your goal.” My head knew this made sense, but the rest of my body rebelled against the G word  like a Pavlovian dog.

“Goal” gained prominence in the ’70’s beyond the meaning of a pair of posts.  Therapists started using the word in the ’80’s and ’90’s, but I never went to those kinds of therapists. I preferred the kind that just let me talk and interrupted only once to tell me the hour was up. My new partner David introduced the G word early in our courtship, but he is an organizational consultant, so I forgave him.

The word was never part of my vocabulary, probably because I never set goals, unless wanting to leave the United States during the Viet Nam War and after the Six Day War for Israel  was a goal or leaving my husband after twenty-seven  years of marriage and moving to my own apartment was a goal or leaving Beit Zayit after ten years of country living and moving to Tel Aviv was a goal. These transitions sprung from strong desires, their roots mainly unconscious. What they all have in common was that I never knew what I was going towards.  Sure, I knew the name of the place where I would land, but I had no idea of the nature of that place. Each one could have been called The Great Unknown. The moves felt more like inner necessities, obsessions, rather than  goals.

(Becoming a writer was never a goal. It was simply a way of being that came naturally to me.)

But now this architect-developer’s  question which I shunned during the conversation keeps haunting me. Now that I am 70 and work independently, it makes sense to ask  what my goals are for my 70’s and 80’s, beyond staying healthy and fit. Do I want to relearn Canasta in Ra’anana or join a mixed-income community in Lod? Do I want to take cruises to Sardinia or cut hair in the women’s prison in Ramla? Do I want to jog along the Yarkon  or hang out in South Tel Aviv with the refugees? Do I want to turn my back on the world or throw myself into it?

I’m treading water, because I can’t decide and the writing that used to come naturally is not coming at all.  Meanwhile, I love riding my two wheeler bike on the level paths in Tel Aviv. Could this be a goal for the next ten years, or until I fall and break a wrist? I love playing with my grandchildren, but will they want to play hide ‘n seek  when I’m eighty-five?

I think of the first Jewish fisherman on the Sea of Galilee since the time of Jesus. I met him in 1966 when he was working as a guard on the shores of Kibbutz Ginosar and I was a volunteer (Sex, Sun and Zionist Dreams). I wanted to find out what it was like being the first Jewish fisherman on the Sea of Galilee since Jesus, but all this lanky, sun-tanned seventy-year-old man talked about and all he dreamed about was his father’s shoe repair shop on a little street in Pinsk.

My little street in Pinsk is close to Shaker Square in Cleveland, Ohio. As I age I too think about it often. One of my dreams is to go back there, ride my two wheeler to the Colony Drug Store and buy an Archie Comic Book for a quarter.  If this is a goal, I may be exploring co-housing options in the wrong country.

About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
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13 Responses to Goal

  1. Joan Leegant says:

    What a fabulous, fabulous post!!! I love it! XO


  2. Nan says:

    don’t forget the hamburger and fries at Clark’s! i adore you……..i’ve already et my goals. form now on it’s all frosting! Baci


  3. Laura Ben-Shmuel says:

    I laughed and cried when I read this post. it’s beautiful. You’re a mind reader — how did you know all the things I’ve been thinking-feeling lately?
    A big hug and kiss to you. When you’re next in Jerusalem, please be in touch. Would love to have a good old-fashion shmooze.


    • I’m starting to reconnect with my love for Jerusalem. I went on a walk along Jabotinsky in Ramat Gan just before Shabbat and was startled to think of the gorgeous pink light on the
      yellow stones of Jerusalem at that bewitching hour. Nothing can compare to that. So, yes, I will be in J-m and we will shmooze.


  4. Jane Arsham says:

    I love this post, Judy! So much to wonder about as we continue to move headfirst into our 8th decade on this planet. Lately, something my Yoga teacher kept asking us at a NYD session has resonated with me– How is your baby toe? A seemingly non-sensical or inconsequential question, but it has become my goal on a daily basis. How often can I be aware of my baby toe– how awake can I be to the moment, whatever the geographic location where I am living or the activity I am pursuing. Most often I forget, of course, but every now and again, like right now, it comes back to me. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to reconnect. 🙂


  5. estherhecht says:

    I am so in awe of what you’ve already done as you enter the so-called golden years. At this point I have only questions about getting older and what to do about it. Perhaps the answers will come.


    • Esther, please contact me by Dec. 2016 re what to do about getting older. Hopefully, I will have two options for you re where to age gracefully in place
      with a nice community of people.


  6. LScoho says:


    Great article – yes it is hard to imagine settling down when you have so many good memories in multiple places. Have you read, “Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living”? One of the big take-aways from this book is Chapter 7 – why it’s important to have two steps into the future, rather than one step in the future and the other tediously hanging in the past. Yes, you can live the rest of your fruitful life wondering what is the right choice, or you can bring those elements (or hints of them) to where ever you land. (PS. Cohousing communities are spanning the globe.)

    Aging Better Together, a conference exploring senior cohousing, is happening in Salt Lake City, UT in May 2016. I’d recommend attending, it will certainly be inspiring and might give you clarity. http://cohousing.org/2016aging

    Good luck and happy writing!


    • Thank you so much for your reply, Lindy. I haven’t read Senior Co-housing, but shall order it. After writing the blog post I feel like I have one and a half steps in the future.
      I can’t even imagine bringing that other half step into the future, maybe a quarter. Being an immigrant, I need to feel rooted in some place and what can I do? That place is Cleveland, mid- 20th century.
      But I definitely feel the need to make a choice and as long as two of my three children and all my grandchildren live in Israel, I shall remain in Israel. I am so enjoying the process of looking for a site
      and building community years before our first brick is even put on the ground. Re the conference, it sounds wonderful, but I have commitments here in Israel in May. If it is an annual event, I would certainly like to
      come next year, after 2 1/2 years of planning under my belt. Maybe I can organize an Israeli delegation … Thanks so much, again, for reaching out.


  7. Your questions seem more important than finding a goal. They seem to be poking and exploring desires and preferences. And the future-sounding G word may be useful as a tool for drawing out more questions for yourself. I love how you consider things.


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