Monday, August 22, 2011

Dance Dance Revolution

(Written on 5/11/2011 en route to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
6 AM… my world….is an ungodly hour.  And the day I left the Ashram was little exception...but the prospect of a day filled with more than vegetables and rice did sweeten the sound of my alarm clock a tad bit.  As Robin and I waited along the empty desert road for the first bus to roll by, we unknowingly flagged down a tour bus instead of a regular bus.  When the cheery driver cocked the door open, he asked if we were going to Tel Aviv and if we wanted a ride. If it meant 10 minutes closer to the Promised Land (aka anywhere with meat)….I was on board.  Literally and figuratively.

Robin explaining how old she is

How sweet it is to have pita and chicken!!
We enjoyed our early morning ride – the sun peeking out over the desert and the 3 young military men on the bus gawking at Robin when they found out that she was (shock!) old enough to be their mother, when they were ready and willing (and already) hitting on her.

Upon our return to Tel Aviv, James, Malak and I tried to convince Robin to extend her flight by one day so she could stay for Independence Day on May 10th.  We did not prevail.  Alas…some people still have responsibilities to return home to.  J  So in honor of her last day in Israel, we finally got a chance to parrrr-tay!  Our first stop (yum)….was watermelon and feta cheese on the beach.  Followed by drinks, followed by barbecue chicken on a tiny BBQ on the patio of James’ apartment, followed by dancing at a club, followed by laughing, until followed by…Robin’s departure at 3 AM when James and his friend Ross took her to the airport. :(

Although my cousin, my link to James and Malak, flew off in the middle of the night, they were still happy (or so they seemed) to have me around the house.  They took me to the park to celebrate Independence Day…and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a mass exodus of people from their homes to the public parks.  Every bench and seat was taken.  Every parking lot was full.  And every BBQ was overflowing with food. 
The energy of this young country’s people was vibrant and excited.  There was a group that was literally riding around on the top of a van – dancing, singing on megaphones, and waving their flag with exuberant pride.  Despite my desperate need for re-hydration and a Taco Time chicken soft taco with Mexi Fries (it was a rough night), I couldn’t help but feel the contagious energy take me over.  I felt blessed to partake in such a joyous celebration and to be welcomed with open arms into family parties and gatherings.

At the end of the night, I finally got to see James in action.  I can’t believe I’ve failed to mention that James and all of his friends are breakdancers (yes….I said breakdancers!)…the celebrities of Israel.  He even got stopped on the way to the park by some questionably odd mascots who asked to take a picture with him.  Although I wanted to bust a move with the rest of the crew…I was (oddly and surprisingly) intimidated…probably a little too afraid of channeling Kevin James from his infamous dance moves in Hitch (the Q tip was my fave…).

The dancing didn’t end there.  On my last day in Israel, I followed Ross around to work like a lost puppy until he took me to the airport.  To my surprise, “work” consisted of a fieldtrip to a school in Jerusalem where he teaches breakdancing to children.  It turns out that it’s becoming hugely popular in Israel and many schools have hired his crew for physical education (you can check them out at  As soon as we walked in the room, the group of 10 year olds started screaming his name, jumping up and down, and bouncing around – clearly excited for their one day per week breakdance lesson.  And once the music started blaring through the speakers, the bass shaking my seat, the kids all fell into line, mesmerized by Ross and mimicking his every move. 

I got to thinking about all the crisis in the U.S. about child obesity and physical education….maybe it’s time we spice things up a bit and actually get kids excited?  Then again…as a gluttonous food blogger, I'm not so sure I have a leg to stand on when it comes to preaching about exercise.  Have at it, Michelle Obama.
Although I was amused with the kids, they were probably more amused by me (or distracted by my presence).  Every time the music shut off, a gaggle of girls flocked to me, rattling off Hebrew (which I clearly didn’t understand), as I became increasingly socially awkward trying to explain to a group of rambunctious ten year old girls that I couldn’t understand.  Until finally….the international language of “Justin Bieber” broke the silence.  Thanks again, Beebs.
As my last day in Israel came to a close at the Tel Aviv airport, I “Sherpa-ed” my luggage, and headed toward the ticket counter to start off on yet another journey.  Just when I thought my day couldn’t be more eventful…it got more eventful (obviously). 
Long story short – before I was able to check in for my flight, I went through the most rigorous security screening I’ve ever experienced.  And after an hour and a half, multiple rounds of questioning, removal of every item from my luggage, and a private pat down, I was feeling invaded, saddened, and frustrated.  My (natural) rage started rising, my temperature increased by tenfold, and my blood was boiling.  Then….something happened.  I caught myself.  I took a deep breath, I remembered my Mom’s parting words for my journey, and I tried to calm myself down.
I (my rational self) told myself (my normal, crazy, irrational self), “In the scheme of things, this is not a big deal.  I just got a small taste of the treatment many people have gotten far worse than me.  And maybe instead of getting angry about this moment, I can use it to be more empathetic and understand the frustrations that others have when they’re faced with similar situations.”
Wow….was this what my inner voice of reason sounded like?!  Is this what growing up feels like?  Where did this cool, calm, collected version of myself come from?  Or was this just “the calm before the storm” as my grandmother used to say right before one of my blood-curdling, hell-raising, (mostly childhood) scream sessions.  Thankfully, whatever it was….it was not the latter.
Empathy hasn’t always been my strong suit…but it’s something that is developing.  It’s easy to get caught up in your own life, in your own shoes (I wear a size 8 – 8 ½ and prefer heels…in case anybody is wondering J)…without truly removing yourself from your biases.  If you have the gift of being able to remove yourself from a situation and evaluate it from a different perspective, you benefit from a greater understanding.
In Psych 101, I remember learning about fundamental attribution error (probably the only thing that I remember).  When you make a mistake it’s easy to attribute it to an outside factor as in… “Yeah, I cut that guy off but it totally wasn’t my fault because I couldn’t see him from around the corner!”  However, when somebody else makes that mistake it’s easy to attribute it to their inabilities or flaws as in… “Yeah, that guy totally cut me off…because he’s an idiot and a horrible driver!”  Outside factors?  Not possible.
Today if you face any adversity or difficulty….I challenge you to step out of your shoes, and consider the other people(s) in the situation.  Is it a possibility (a tiny itsy bitsy possibility?) that perhaps they aren’t dumb/rude/mean/etc. but there is something else contributing to that?  Good luck my friends…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...