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Danita and Michael Aziza

 
EDITOR'S PICK: Danita Aziza: Lesson #41- It’s Not All About Me

Danita Aziza , January 1, 2012

Where I come from, the heftiest weight on the collective mind is the inability to control the weather only to be seconded by a grasshopper outbreak that could destroy a whole growing season of Saskatchewan wheat crop. I’m not minimizing the concerns of a Saskatchewan farmer in any way for they are real and worrisome for sure, but when you juxtapose that with having to contemplate dawning a gas mask and sealing yourself in a safe room of your house, well then I’ll let you decide what trumps what.
 
When I started to think of the ramifications of a nuclear attack or a preemptive strike or a long range missile fired from the border of one of our “loverly” neighbors, my first thought was to pack the bags, crate the dogs and board the first flight back to whence I came. That inner voice of mine, however, quickly piped up bringing me to my senses. “ I have a son in the army, relatives, friends and a house and the whole fleeing the scene option is no longer viable. I simply cannot just pick up and dash off,” I told myself.   
 
For days I couldn’t make the scary thoughts vanish. The headlines that heralded a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities began to wane, but those down deep fears of mine would not. Michel had no sooner come through the door from work one late afternoon when I started to spew. “ Michel, all this talk about Iran and nuclear programs and attacks is scaring me. I’m no hero, I’m not so brave and I’m really REALLY nervous about what would happen here if there was a nuclear showdown.” Without even a hint of sarcasm and in the most matter of fact way, Michel responded, “ It’s not all about us”. “Ah ha”, was about all I could muster in reply.
 
When I was a kid it seemed that just about everything scared the willies out of me. I hated when my parents went out on Saturday night and left me alone with my older brother or the babysitter. I never particularly liked sleeping away from home or flying in airplanes or thunderstorms. Even today, if I know in advance that a movie is scary, well I simply don’t go and I always walk my dogs along the same route opting for boredom over an encounter with an unknown stray feline.
 
That being said, it is astounding, at least to me that I have opted to live in Israel. To put it in perspective, if I were to set out on one of those leisurely Sunday drives that I loved so much when I was a Moose- Jawvian youngster I wouldn’t exactly end up picnicking on the scenic grounds of the Saskatchewan legislative building. If I jumped in my car at 6:00 a.m. and drove three hours to the North I could be in Lebanon enjoying a shashuka brunch with our good chum, Nasrallah.   A hop skip and a jump to the North East could have me sipping mint tea with the ever so pretty and good- hearted Assad in Syria. If I was looking for a little more warmth I could head two hours south to break bread with our Hammas buddies in Gaza and end up before sunset in Egypt to dip pita in some hummus with those new brothers from another mother.
 
 So how do I cope with the veil of danger that pretty much hovers daily above me here in the Middle East?   My friend Myrna once gave me an orange flowering plant named “Busy Lizzie” and Busy Lizzy I most certainly am. Luckily for me and for my mental health I find keeping busy in Israel easier than in Canada.
 
Getting a hair cut, depositing a check at the bank or buying stamps at the ever so popular post office take more time here than where I used to call home. Most weeks there is someone from abroad popping by and this necessitates making plans, organizing the house and thinking of something a bit different to throw in the oven. We are rarely without guests for Shabbat and with a shortened weekend it seems like no sooner is it Sunday than it is Thursday again There is always a baby naming to get to, weddings to dance at and without having to dawn boots, coats and long underwear you are far more inclined to run out in the evening to take in a movie, catch a concert or meet friends for coffee.
 
I’m forever driving Rachel, Benji and Daniel the Lone Soldier who has lived with us for the past two plus years to and from the bus stop and train station, hearing about their challenges and triumphs. Tali calls with questions concerning student visas, medical appointments and her volunteer experiences and it seems like my cell phone is always flashing red announcing an incoming call.   Some nights I plop into bed so weary from all of the activity that I’m asleep well before I’ve had a chance to imagine the ramifications of nuclear fallout in my back yard.
 
Despite a frenzy of activity, I do get that pit in the stomach feeling every now and again.   When I’m scared I quell my fears with the thought of all those young soldiers patrolling the entrance to military bases, guarding our borders or taking part in dangerous missions that involve going undercover in a Arab village to gather intelligence or taking part in a middle of the night arrest of a known activist or terrorist. What an Israeli soldier has to do is about the collective and going beyond their own personal needs and sense of security for the greater good of the country and its citizens. If these kids, most of them a third of my age can learn to deal with their fears, well then, so must I.
 
The serene and secure Saskatchewan fields with the mustard seed plants and sunflowers swaying in the wind can sometimes dominate my thoughts especially in the midst of unsettling times. Duty trumps comfort though, and I’m not budging.
 
 
 
 
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