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Danita and Michael Aziza

 
DANITA AZIZA: DEAL WITH DISAPPOINTMENTS-LESSON #37

by Danita Aziza , October 12, 2011

 
I really don’t like to be disappointed. If I have planned something and it doesn’t quite pan out the way I intended, or I’ve cooked something and it doesn’t exactly taste the way I wanted it to, or I’ve ordered something at a restaurant and it isn’t as good as the waiter made it out to be, well I just get so darn disappointed. Or at least I used to.
 
Disappointment engulfs you when some sort of expectation has been put in place. Sometimes the expectation can be entirely realistic, but then again it can be a result of an expectation that you’ve set too high for yourself, your family, friends, government, or even something inanimate such as your car. Where you have expectation, there is always opportunity to experience disappointment.
 
When Benji returned to his base 10 days ago we said good-bye to him with every intention that he would be home for Yom Kippur. His commander said his unit would be returning home for the holy day and there was no reason to assume otherwise. A fellow soldier in his medic course asked Benji if he could delay going home by one day so he could go home for the night. He needed someone to do his guarding duty and Benji agreed to fill in for him and stay over Thursday night. The same chap he was covering for suddenly, on Friday morning, came down with some sort of illness, real or imaginary, and Benji was forced to cover for him and remain on base for all of Yom Kippur. He was disappointed to no end and so were we.
 
The initial disappointment was pretty heavy. Benji thought it so unfair. He was supposed to be home and had every expectation that he would be and then it all changed. In the scheme of the big world, not such a major thing and it really was ok in the end, but more important than that, it was a significant lesson that plans can shift in a moment here and it is best not to set too many expectations in place in an effort to avoid undue disappointment.
 
I am always fascinated by what I have now termed, “the Israeli approach” to dealing with a variety of situations and circumstances. Israelis don’t appear to me to experience the emotion of disappointment nearly as much as me. No sir, I’ve come to realize that someone who has lived here always or for a long time has perhaps surpassed his or her fair share of disappointments so as to be more or less immune. Or more aptly, where my reaction to something failing to meet expectation is met with disappointment, my Israeli counterpart would have a much more proactive approach or perhaps express strong emotion or just be indifferent.
 
Not long ago I planned a birthday dinner for Israeli friends of ours. Normally I delegate choosing the restaurant and making the reservation. My friend knows all the good places and I am usually loathed to placing phone calls here for whatever strange reason even though most of the service sector does speak English. This time I was so excited because I had picked the restaurant based on a previous very favorable visit and made the reservation myself and was truly excited about my selection. The restaurant overlooking the sea seemed like the perfect spot even though it was so darn dark you couldn’t read the menu. I’ve never had a bottle of bad wine before, but there is always a first and this was it. The food was totally mediocre and I was silently mortified and incredibly disappointed. Not my friends, they were just pragmatic (asked for another bottle of wine and sent back some food) and I don’t think there was anything about their reaction that appeared to equal my disappointment. I was sad, they were mad, not at me of course, but our reactions were as different as they could possibly be. Why was that?
 
No doubt personality has something to do with it, but I truly think that people here in Israel have two distinct reactions to dealing with failed expectations. The first is to take action to correct what they deem to be a wrong. They, unlike me, simply don’t settle for being disappointed or dissatisfied and chose instead to do what they feel is in their power to have something meet their expectation. If the service is not good, they simply force it to be better, if the price is not to their liking, instead of walking away disappointed, they try and negotiate a better price and they, by and large zig zag their way through situations so they will achieve their set goal rather than retreat and walk away unfulfilled. Michel has been much more successful at taking the Israeli lead in this area than I, but slowly I’m seeing that there is little to be gained by just putting on the pout and wallowing in disappointment which has pretty much been my way.
 
The second Israeli reaction to disappointment as I see it is to simply not allow too much to disappoint them. When I get really pumped and excited about an upcoming government initiative or sign that there is some progress on the peace front, my enthusiasm gets a fairly blasé reception from those I know here. Israelis have just been disappointed a few too many times I guess to become too optimistic about anything. It isn’t that they are pessimists, but they just aren’t easily sucked into the vortex of enthusiasm quite the same way that I am.. Israelis I think maintain emotional balance. They are realists and kind of live by the adage “don’t tell me, show me” and once you show me when maybe then I’ll get a tiny bit “psyched”.
 
Israelis set the bar high. Just last week an Israeli was awarded a Nobel Prize, bringing the total now to 10. Medical breakthroughs are made here all the time, companies are created one day and only a short time later their stocks are being bought and sold on the New York Stock Exchange. Diplomatic relations with friends and not such good friends can dwindle one day and be revived again a short time later. With such high standards Israel sets for itself, you think that there would be a propensity for disappointment. It just isn’t so.
 
Benji has dealt with the disappointment of not being able to come home on Yom Kippur. Last night he called to tell me that he’s pretty sure he was able to convince his commander that his staying on base for Yom Kippur is reason enough for him being given a five day home stay during the week of Sukkoth. We’re pretty amazed that he’s learned quite quickly the “Israeli way”. I’ve spent the day getting caught up in the laundry so that I’ll be able to handle all the loads that will accompany his arrival. I’ve made the trip to the grocery store to buy his favorite foods and I’m planning to bake cookies to put in the freezer.    I’m pretty excited at the prospect of having the family together for all of Succoth, but I’m not setting my hopes too high. I now know that the plans could inevitably take a turn. Funny, but maybe that
 
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