Facing Fears

While speaking last week to Jon, I was reminded of one particular trip that I took with Jon and Amir to the Jersey Shore two summers ago. Amir loved to get into intense discussions on the beach. Jon and I just felt like sitting there and yaking about nothing in particular. Amir started passionately speaking about why traditional therapy wasn’t effective; people kept their guard up too much (he said). Amir’s new theory was that doing ridiculous things was truly therapeutic because it helped people face their fears. In other words, looking like a fool was the best way to stop taking yourself too seriously and then, feel more confident. Jon and I listened to Amir rant and rave about this notion and basically (passively) agreed. We were hot and trying to take it easy. Why did Amir care so much about this? The conversation seemed too theoretical. But Amir kept asking us what we thought. So, Jon finally said the more reasonable thing(?) – that doing noble, self preserving things was the best way to help oneself face fears and feel confident in life. Amir was excited by the opposition to his argument so he tried to convince Jon otherwise. After a couple of minutes, Jon got sick of the conversation and said that he was going to get up and sing karoke. Jon has a great voice and I commented that I could never sound that good. Amir couldn’t believe that I wasn’t getting up to sing. Then, he said that since I agreed that the best way to face fears/feel more confident was to look like a fool, I would have to face my fear that is, to get up and sing a really spazzy karoke song. I hadn’t really agreed and I certainly didn’t want to sing in front of all these people but Amir had this way of being so convincing and encouraging at the same time. So I got up and sounded terrible (or according to Amir, “you have a hip, very different voice”) singing karoke in front of a bunch of strangers.

Amir, you had a way of saying insane things that really were smart. I almost expect to see your bicycle outside on the street somewhere followed by your cackling laugh. Where are you? I miss all the times that I came by to see you and hear your thoughts about facing fears. Conversations will be too quiet without you.

Don’t be an environmental terrorist

The first time I ate a meal in Jon and Amir’s apartment was very memorable. Amir put a bunch of plastic bags on the table. Mashed potatos were in one plastic bag, salad in another and salami in another. Amir had saved these plastic bags from his last trip to the supermarket. Jon argued it was uncivilized to eat from plastic bags. Amir thought that using plates was a waste of paper. Everyone agreed that dishes were too much of a pain. Jon and I were so hungry that we just gave into Amir’s very determined environmental stance and ate dinner out of the bags. That was settled. Amir won. Then, Jon mentioned that he picked a girl up on a date in a taxi. Amir got very upset and told him that this was not environmentally sound. Jon said that he was more chivalrous than Amir. Amir said that because he picked girls up walking or on a bicycle, future generations would live. We told Amir that he was an extremist. Amir told us that we were environmental terrorists. Amir got us to admit that that the food from the plastic bags tasted good. Amir said that he might bring a bag of food on his next date. He made it sound like reasonable etiquette.
-yoni malina

The first time I met Amir

My first time meeting Amir was in the basement of my parents house when my brother and Amir were in high school. Amir and Moshe were playing video games and speaking quickly in their mumbling, non-understandable way. My mother said, “I am so glad that there is another one who speaks like my son”…Who would’ve guessed that this fast-talking, computer-loving mumbler would later become one of my closest friends?