MEGAN'S POETRY IN DR. ZUR'S BIO

Megan Pielmeier has been contributing soulful hearty poetry to Dr. Zur's Biography.

Megan Pielmeier has a bachelor of arts in communications/journalism and worked as a content specialist and marketing assistant. She enjoys writing fiction and poetry.

Megan's contact information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-pielmeier-14878b194

See Dr. Zur's Full Biography.

Stepping into the Void – On Being a Paratrooper

The Israeli army is a rite of passage for almost all young Israelis and during my service I faced barriers and boundaries that I had never before encountered. I was a paratrooper and I will forever remember the first time I stood at the launch door of an airplane, thousands of feet above the earth – poised at a fundamental boundary between the real and the ethereal – and stepped forward into the void. It was a transforming experience, fraught with suspense and fear but also imbued with joy and the instant dawning of a new perspective. Floating, falling, what a metaphor for Life! – but also entrusting my life to a slip of silk, certain that the canopy would open, trusting to the unknown.

A door separated me from
airplane and sky
One foot placed gingerly on a metal floor,
And the other foot on a cloud
Holding on, letting go
Sailing through whisps of white
Cottonball clouds
Floating endlessly above the earth
Gliding gently below.

Out-Of-Body Experience & Its Life-Long Meaning

Then, as a 20 year old, still in the army, I was serving in the occupied Gaza Strip when I found myself, with eight of my soldiers, surrounded by a rapidly advancing, rock throwing crowd of young Gazans. For a split second, I had an out-of-body experience where I saw the scene from high above. In that mystified and astounding instant, I realized the two fateful/calamitous choices I had were to either save our lives by shooting at the young Gazans closing in on us, or to be harmed or even killed by them. Either way lay tragedy. Clearly neither choice seemed right. Thankfully, we were rescued by our troops at the last second; no shots were fired and no one was hurt. At that very moment, I knew that in order not to be confronted with such a situation (which is inherent part of an occupation) ever again, I would have to leave the country I loved, Israel. That day did not come for almost a decade when I went to the US to study.

I saw myself earily
Almost like a phantom
Hovering above a crowd of angry faces
Watching the scene unfold below
My life caught somewhere between
the living and the dead

Thumbing My Nose at Death on a Bridge of Fire

Towards the end of the 1973 war, my unit was finally deployed. We were assigned to cross a bridge across the Suez Canal and head north towards the revered city of Ismailia. At this point of the war the Egyptian army was highly concerned that if the Israeli Armed Forces crossed the Suez Canal, they would subsequently have a clear path to Egypt’s capital, Cairo. As a result, the Egyptian army was defending the bridge that my unit had been assigned to with all their remaining military might, relying on intense artillery bombardments, air force bombings, and anti-tank guided missiles to deter the incoming Israeli army. When we arrived, Israeli tanks, personal carriers and jeeps were on fire and literally flying off the bridge. It was an intense game of chicken between the Egyptian bombings and the Israeli military engineering unit, which was rapidly rebuilding and repairing the repeatedly hit and damaged bridge. Amazingly they were able to keep rebuilding despite the catastrophic losses they were suffering.

Then, I received my orders: we were commanded to cross this fiery strip and move deeper into Egypt. While the rest of my unit quickly jumped into vehicles and sped as fast as they could into the clouds of smoke that covered the bridge, my recklessness, bravery and perhaps my stupidity spurred my buddy and me to cross this death zone by foot. As fire and metal rained down around our unprotected bodies, we sarcastically argued over who would be the first to die, and who would get to put a wreath on the grave of the other at the prestigious famed national military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Halfway across the bridge I suddenly felt compelled to stop. A strange sense of calm and quiet came over me despite the deafening bombs and missiles exploding all around. Almost engulfed by the chaos and destruction, I looked up at the sky and extended a defiant middle finger to God, a gesture by which I was telling Death, “I do not fear you!”

This attitude of fearlessness towards death, which has harmoniously and consistently coexisted with my deep reverence for life, has revealed itself in multiple ways throughout my life, such as in my predilection for evacuating hospitals against medical advice, diving the magical but lethal Blue Hole, shooting the light bulbchallenge-riding a motorcycle at the Himalayas by 4,000ft drops and many other death-defying ventures. My mother vowed she wanted to ‘die erect,’ so perhaps there’s a strain of this mentality I inherited from her!

Even as I walk, surrounded by flames
On this Bridge of Fire
You, death, will not win!
Though you may try to burn my aching body
You will never singe my soul – my essence
Oh death, You will not defeat me!

This Moment Could be My Last

We survived, at least physically, the crossing of the bridge over the Suez Canal under rain of fire in the 1973 (Yom Kippur) war and the close call with the monkey aiming the artillery on us. Getting closer to our target city of Ismailia, my buddy and I were driving a jeep on a mission in coordination with a sister unit when we lost our bearings and shockingly found ourselves behind enemy lines. There, suddenly and unexpectedly we arrived at a most horrific, eerie sight. In front of us were the widely scattered remains of an Israeli army jeep which had literary evaporated, annihilated into thin air when struck by a lethal Egyptian anti-tank missile. We also stumbled upon the tiny dog-tag, all that was left from an Israeli soldier whose body, like most of the parts of the jeep, had vanished into the same thin air.

Realizing that the jeep we were driving was situated exactly where the evaporated jeep once stood was a surreal experience. We knew that in no time, at any given moment and without warning, we too could vanish and annihilated just like the passengers of the other jeep. We exchanged looks of awe mixed with wonder and horror. As we silently and with full presence inched our way back to our unit, we struggled to metabolize the very real possibility of our instantaneous annihilation and death. Thinking of being evaporated in an instant felt very different than considering dying by a bullet. This really drove home how we had neither control of our destiny nor predictive power as to what might be awaiting us. I truly got it how life, and its continuance, is such a mystery, and ultimately, such a gift.

The scattered remains of an Israeli army jeep
A single dog tag
all that was left of a fellow soldier
In an instant death
could tap her cold, bony fingers
Against our shoulders
And in that unreal moment
Life suddenly became more sacred

“All of you guys are missing some parts!”

Two young ones, not quite adults, still nourished by the springtime of possibilities. We held hands and while walking the coast-line of the Red-Sea, immersed in the calm beauty of the sunset, enjoyed the silence of getting to know each other. She was a 19 year old young Israeli woman. I was a few years older and we had just met. We touched each other softly with a sense of innocence and wonder, more exploratory and curious than sexual. We sat with legs crossed, her head on my shoulder, as we watched the slow decent of the sun. Her soft fingertip touch came to the place where my calf was blown off in the war. She briefly paused and broke the silence by casually offering up: “All of you guys are missing some parts, aren’t you?” Then, she continued to silently and gently stroke my leg. She said it as a simple matter of fact. She could equally have said “The ocean temperature is moderate.” It was a powerful, insightful and profoundly sad moment for me. While, like most of my fellow soldiers, I was still in denial of the profound traumatic impact of my battle experience and war injury on me, it was painfully clear to me that this young woman was already completely resigned and profoundly aware of the, so called “parts” that so many of us, young men – soldiers, “were missing”.

“Missing some parts”
Parts suddenly removed
Limbs blown off
Our souls not quite intact,
Grappling with a broken body
From the injuries of yet, another war

Getting a Tattoo from a One-Legged Tattoo Artist in Amsterdam

From England, I took a ferry to Holland. On board, I met a young British woman who offered me some ‘real’ English tea on the upper deck of the ferry. We spent the next couple of weeks in the swirl of beautiful, intriguing Amsterdam with its burgeoning, multicolored sub-cultures. It was there that I got a tattoo from a one-legged tattoo artist in a tattoo shop in the famous and infamous Red Light District. Tattoos are very common today, but in 1977, they were still quite rarely seen and, because of an ancient biblical proscription, a very un-Jewish, un-Israeli to do.

A splattering of color
A mosaic of sorts
Painted on my skin
Reminding me of the trip
To Amsterdam
A postcard on my arm
Sent from a faraway place
A memory sewn onto my skin.

Flatlined for 90 Seconds – Disappointedly Did NOT See God

In the millenial year of 2000, I suffered my first heart attack and cardiac arrest at the age of 50 (100% occlusions of LCA) and crossed the boundary of life and death (flatlined) for 90+ seconds. I remain disappointed that I neither saw a white light nor God, a truly wasted opportunity. With a stent in place, I have increased my focus on my “bucket list”. In that same year, my father died, but unlike my mother, he went slowly at the ripe old age of 84.

In an instant of course
Life can change,
Sands stop running through
An hourglass, my hourglass
My life suspended
Each day meant more than the day before
A new journey
A thirst for adventure
A new appreciation
A life reborn, made anew.

Riding Motorcycles at the Himalayas at 18,380ft

In August 2012 my son, Eitan (19), and I (62) went to the highest ‘ridable’ road on earth at 18,380 feet above sea level – in the Himalayas on … motorcycles. The two-week adventure turned out to be one of the most physically and mentally onerous experiences of my life. Driving the narrow, rocky roads often bordered by cliffs falling thousands of feet (with no guard rails), blind corners, reckless, over-loaded trucks, long days of riding through endless potholes, and water crossings turned out to be an unparalleled adventure and realization of a dream.

18,380 feet above sea level
My son and I
zigzag, cut through 
Earth and heaven,  
Feel sun and shade at our backs
As we ride

Re-Living my 1973 War experience on Memorial Day in 2022

Visiting Israel during memorial-day for the fallen soldiers has added an interesting and intense aspect of the visit.  I joined my best friend Eitan to his military units annual memorial-day ceremony at Tel-Saki on the Golan Hight where his small unit was surprised attacked in the 1973 war and found itself surrounded by hundreds of Syrian’s tanks and soldiers.  The ritual included the parents and siblings and the photos of the soldiers who died right there.  Some members of the unit, got severely injured and 50+ years later are still  heavily disabled.  I chose to walk into one of the dark underground tunnels in Tel-Saki in an attempt to remember and re-live my battle experience in the 73 war in the Egyptian front across the Suez Canal.  As expected, walking into the dark, long and narrow tunnel, I encountered strong bodily memories of tunnel fighting, of keeping the non-stop the intense fire upfront/ahead while stepping on enemy soldiers’ dead bodies.  It was, definitely, an intense experience, but fortunately did not activated any of my PTSD, on which I ‘worked’ for many years, after I finally realizes the stupidity of the belief I was indoctrinated with, that “Israeli paratroopers do not get PTSD”.

In Remembering, I forget sometimes. What war was like but then am reminded under these tunnels of Tel-Saki of the dead who whisper their memories, sketch their stories in my mind.

Exciting Off-Road Motorcycles trip in the Desert (2022)

I went on a challenging and equally exciting adventure in the Negev Desert on 250cc off-road motorcycles, with my 3 nephews: Tal, Leor,  Shai and Tal’s Son, Ben (16). I was determined to enjoy the awesome (challenging) beauty of the dessert, its rough terrains, and the (unavoidable) falls off the bike, and keep away from the hospital, where I ended up in my last motorcycles adventure 2 years prior.  We embarked on our trip in Mitzpe Ramon and made our way in the Israeli “Grand Canyon” where we spent 4 days in awsome, challenging and varied terrains, meandering up hills and steep river banks made of rocky and sandy surfaces.  Inevitably, I did take some hard falls off the bike but luckily did not break any bones or infect my body with bacteria as I did last time. The journey indeed felt epic.

Climbing up a staircase of stones on a motorcycle I took in majestic sights, surrounded by the desert in its glorious mixture of silence and story hidden below the pedals I pressed.

Challenging Encounter with Fear, Mastery and . . . PIRANHAS on the Amazon River

In 2022 at 72 years old, I have decided to confront fear, challenge, and adventure by going to Brazil and spend time in gorgeous, adventurous Rio de Janeiro, on the magnificent enormous Amazon River and encounter unique personal challenge with the legendary dangerous awesome Piranhas.

I travelled in this 3 weeks adventure with my beloved nephew, Tal (52) and a young friend Jenn (32) a Scottish doctorate-mathematician, and ultra marathon runner.

A short video of our delightful time in Rio, Santarem and the gorgeous Amazon

Rio
The city that never sleeps
Majestic, draped in a rainbow of colors
The heartbeat of life
The soul of Brazil

Rio

Rio

A short video of my amazing encounter with the awesome piranhas and the rational for this rather ‘crazy adventure’

Piranha
Our first encounter
Your sharp famous teeth
a reminder of your legendary power
My eagerness to engage

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