If you travel through Jerusalem, beyond the Western Wall and Sepulcher of Christ that empower and give meaning to so many, and keep traveling East you pass through kibbutzes trying to give meaning in a different way. At this point, North of you is Jerico, a city surrounded by an old wall and filled with houses and people the color of sand. Keep moving East and South through the 1949 Armistice Agreement Line, the boundary formed by the formal armistice that ended the Arab-Israeli War and established treaty line for Israeli and Jordanian-Iraqi Forces, and towards the southern tip of the dead sea.
Beyond this imaginary line drawn on a map is a place called Ein Gedi. This city is near the famous Herod founded city of Masada and the Qumran Caves, a series of caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. These scrolls are over 2000 years old and contain religious stories from God. Masada was built in 37 BCE.
When you begin talking of history from thousands of years ago a part of you begins doubting the authenticity. How can we know what these scrolls really are, or how old this city really is? Whose word do we have to take for this? What authority makes it so?
We have the same problem today, but on a different scale. We are doubters, all of us. We doubt ourselves and the intentions of people and businesses. Sometimes we need to be shocked out of this doubt, be told or shown something authentic and real. We need to believe in authenticity once again.
When you arrive at the Dead Sea you tip toe over the crystallized salt beach that leads to the water. The salt is real, you can feel the pangs of sharp crystals dig into the soles of your feet. Behind you, heat clings to the air in the sand-colored cliffs. The world around the sea is just as dead, devoid of green plants and trees. For as far as the eyes can see is only brown.
Pushing through the water you float, your body lifted upwards by the high concentration of salt. Everything about the properties of water and the human body would have you believe that you would sink, not float. But, by adding one element, one new detail, you change the way things work. You form a new reality, one richer than the one you believed in before. This is possible in nature and business.
This belief in a richer reality lies in the adventures we take. When cities gag us with commercialization and mainstream circuses we seek a return to reality. We want the authenticity of natural truths and conclusions we draw ourselves. Listening to people tell us what to think, what to buy and how to act gets suffocating. We are human after all, and need to know we can think on our own to find something greater and more permanent out there than ourselves.
We want a reminder now and again that beyond our suspension on a bed of salt are caves filled with mysteries and cities formed thousands of years ago. Authenticity is so hard to believe in when we live and operate in a world of plastic.
Then the road beckons. We want a larger narrative, to be part of a bigger picture. But, most of all we want meaningful work in the world. We go forward to new places, grasping at something more real and meaningful than our instant buy and sell world. Or maybe we are just after life, and seeing the possibilities that people possess.
This is what one feels when traveling Southeast of Israel, through the armistice line, across the needle sharp edges of salt and in to the Dead Sea.