Monday, December 27, 2004

No Two Pearls Are Alike

Did you know that no two pearls are alike? One may wear a strand of pearls and at first glance, they all look the same, but on closer regard, one sees it's true: no two pearls are alike.

I think that the same holds true for people named Pearl -- we might be similar: in our modes of dress, in behaviors, in language we use, in our sense of humor. I have a close friend named Penina, which means Pearl in Hebrew. In so many ways we're the same, but in so many others we're different. Someone can say to me, "You remind me so much of Penina"; they do not say, "You're just like Penina." I am reminiscent of her; I am not interchangeable with her.

When I was in Israel twenty years ago, I roomed on kibbutz with Israeli soldiers who, because they were frum, did kibbutz duty. They were constantly telling me,"Yesh lach jewkim barosh," translating as: You have bugs in your head, off beat ideas. Or else they used a slang expression, totally new to me: "At g'noova," translating as: You're stolen. They tried to further explain what they meant and kept convincing me that it was complimentary--I was unique, one of a kind.

In my growing-up years, until my mid-teens, I did not want to be different, I didn't want to be one of a kind; I wanted to be like everyone else and be accepted as such. But that wasn't always the case -- I had an old-fashioned name; I was a child of European-born parents; I wasn't cool; I was academically inclined; I was a bookworm-- I was considered different than my school peers. In the impressionable years, it's tough to be different. The ego rides a roller coaster, sometimes leaving its passengers behind, as they stand and watch the ride go on without them.

But somewhere along the way, I grew more comfortable in my skin, more self-assured of my abilities and my strengths, and more accepting of other people's biases and immature attitudes. It was okay to be the Pearl I was meant to be. As I would describe myself, "Conservative...but with a twist!"

Just recently I was told by a friend: "...But you are Pearl -- an original in every way, and for that I am greatly relieved."

I think I've come pretty far in my "pearldom." It's nice to know that this Pearl is definitely one of a kind and precious to many...