We all have battles we fight within ourselves: battles where the heart fights the mind, the mind fights the heart and the soul wonders which will triumph. Over the course of a lifetime, each wins its fair share, but the true winner is the one who can accept and find peace with whatever decision is taken. The true winner, hopefully, is the soul because it lives between the mind and the heart and seeks peace between them.
Elie has been fighting one of these inner battles, one in which no one else can help him decide. He has to live with his choice, he has to make the decision. We have told him we support him; we love him, but it is for him alone to choose what road he will take or try to make the army let him take. In his heart, he has wanted to join the Medics Course. He has volunteered at the local ambulance squad here in Maaleh Adumim for over 5 years, since the age of 15, when he took his first course.
He's taken other specialized courses, teaching him how to handle a multiple casualty incident (essentially a terrorist attack), and other important lessons for handling a medical crisis. He has saved people lives, an incredible accomplishment for any 20-year-old. He is a natural in a crisis, calm, determined, aware. I've seen it several times - on vacation when we came across a traffic accident and Elie jumped out to help; driving home when he jumped out of the car to help at an accident and in so many other cases. This is Elie's heart.
In his head, Elie knows that the army has given him 8 months of training and won't want to give that up by letting him take the Medics Course. The army wants to take the investment they have made and reap the rewards by having Elie train others. Even more, Elie's commanding officers see something in Elie. They have invested in him, believed in him, and early on treated him as if some day he would join their ranks and be a commander too.
Elie's head has known all along the chances of getting into the Medics Course are slim and would be made even slimmer if he were to successfully complete the Commanders Course. He also knows that if he quit the Commanders Course, there is still no guarantee that he would be accepted, in 3-4 months time, into the next round of Medics Courses.
For weeks now, Elie's heart and head have collided, each claiming victory over the other. Last week was the latest roller coaster. Last Friday, his heart told me he had made his decision and was quitting the Commanders Course to take his chance at joining the Medics Course and I believed him. In the long term, this was probably the best decision - the army Medic Course is intense and you can likely never have too much medical training in life.
Elie sounded torn when he told me this decision, perhaps a little unsure and I wasn't really convinced it was his final decision. Sure enough, on Sunday, his head spoke to me and said he was staying in the Commanders Course. This too is a decision of honor. Elie would make a great commander (he's been practicing on his younger brother and sister for years). He sounded more sure of himself and I began to think this might be the final decision. But wanted to wait until he came home this weekend to be sure.
He arrived home this past Friday - tired and hungry as usual, but more at peace with himself. He is staying in the Commanders Course. Or will remain his commanding officer during the course. This is an intensive period of training for Elie. In the field, Elie will be the one with the knowledge, the one responsible for the actions of his troops. The commanding officer is the expert of the unit. He is responsible for knowing how to get his troops from point to point on a mission (and so this week Elie and his group were given maps and positions and had to maneuver themselves from point to point). I envy my son this closeness with the land of Israel, this time to walk and learn about the terrain and conditions.
Elie told us more about the course and what is expected and I'll write about that as well, but for now, the decision seems most final and Elie is on track to become a commanding officer. For now, he's going to sleep so that he can leave very early tomorrow morning. He's got two boxes of homemade stuff to take along, a little flashlight I bought last week, and whatever he needs for the next two weeks away from home. But the greatest gift of all that he takes with him, is a heart and a mind at peace with the decision he has made.