Adventures of an Urban Nomad

Sukkoth in Sydney

This week is the Jewish festival of Sukkoth (pronounced Sook-ot).

Like all Jewish festivals it has some specific rituals (apart from a lot of eating but that’s a given for all of them).

One of the ones for Sukkoth is to “dwell in a Sukkah”.

A Sukkah is a temporary shelter with the main feature being that the roof must be made of plant material and has enough open space to let rain through.

The definition of “dwelling” has a number of options like whether or not you should sleep in it, work in it, decorate it and more.

(As you can see, Sukkahs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and locations – even Google has one.)

However, everyone agrees that the basic requirement is that all meals should be eaten in one.

We’re currently in Sydney (going back home tomorrow -yay!!!) doing a revisit of house-sitting and so having a Sukkah raises some significant logistical challenges.

And so, I contacted a friend (who is knowledgeable about these things) and asked if he knew of anyone in the local area to where we are staying who had a Sukkah who would be willing to share it.

His response was; “Come and stay with us.”

So, for three days we were living with another couple.

Fortunately, they are amazing and wonderful people (the fact that they are very much like us may contribute significantly to that opinion of them).

Danita and I have reached an age where we are much more comfortable on our own and so being with someone else 24×7 offers some challenges.

However, at no point did we feel that we were in the way or had overstayed our welcome.

One interesting thing that did occur to me was that had the situation been reversed (ie they were staying with us in our house) we would have felt a lot easier about it.

We love it when people come to visit us in Tasmania and we get to do the tour-guide thing and look after them.

But when we are on the receiving end of people’s generosity that’s a bit challenging for us.

One of the issues, is knowing the rules of the house when in someone else’s space.

When we were house-sitting we were always conscious of that and even renting has a great deal of that feeling eg we can’t put up any of our artworks in the house we are renting, can’t put in a vegetable garden where we want, can’t have chickens etc etc.

And so, to have friends where you can live with them and still come away feeling that you’d love to see them again and keep in regular contact is very special.

When I got home there was a message on my phone (it had gone flat during the three days) from a contact from a long time ago – someone I used to sail with.

I haven’t heard from him for a couple of years, at least,
and he finished his message with the adage that “Friends are like stars. They light up your night but you hardly ever talk to them.” – thanks John.

It’s been an important reminder to me about how special friends are – having people you can trust, with whom you’ve shared experiences and had fun times together.

Sometimes you also go through difficult ties together and that strengthens the connections.

One of the lessons or messages of Sukkoth is exactly that – the value and importance of friends and how people can be different and still together.

While we have some different views to the people we stayed with we could always have good conversations because underpinning the relationship is trust, understanding and humour – lots of humour.

As I mentioned, there are a lot of similarities between us but it’s the differences that makes the relationship really interesting.

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