Monday, June 13, 2011

Things Hidden, by blogger of the month Renata Mazurek

Cutting up an apple this morning that I had just bought fresh, I was surprised to see that it was rotting from the inside out, and it looked like it had a giant pit in the middle instead of a core. There was no way to tell, of course, and this is the first time I had encountered this here (or anywhere). All I thought was, foiled again. While proceeding to cut out the rotted section, the next thing passing my mind was that at least I had decided to cut my apple in pieces today instead of biting into it. I have noticed this latter sort of non-intentional thought process a number of times now, where I only realize after the fact that it could have been worse if I made a different decision, which at the onset is not apparent, or not even a consideration, as being better or worse. It’s easy to develop a bitterness in an environment that seems to always be up against you, and then it becomes just as easy to blame it for every unfavorable episode. While I probably can complain about something each day that is a result of being here, it just cannot be accountable for everything that doesn’t go smoothly. Plus, it’s also not worth complaining at every opportunity. Going back a little, in what I’ve already mentioned, I’ve also developed more and more awareness over this year that often the decision that I made ends up being a better one in the long term, even if I felt at the time that I was getting the short end of the stick (usually because I had to make a decision and the option that I would have wanted wasn’t present or didn’t come together).

Certainly, I cannot suggest that each scenario resolves in this way, but sometime it is good to hold off on a reaction before waiting to see what will happen. An outcome may turn out to be inconsequential or reveal something. It just so happened that I had this apple; I didn’t know what would happen when I came to eat it – it could have not been rotten inside, and whether I sliced it or ate it whole likely would not have impacted my experience. Since it was, an already up-front negative experience, delaying the potential for having a bad mood about it, I realized that slicing ended up being a good decision though I didn’t know it yet. Even if the final outcome of an initial choice (selecting that apple) is not positive (getting rid of a lot of it), the recognition of having avoided a more negative experience (biting into the rotted part) can be positive itself (and from my experiences, is more often the case). Or if the final outcome is still negative (had I bitten into the apple instead of slicing) then there can still be a lesson learned (cut apples preferably before eating), whether or not having an idea beforehand that the decision could lead to the outcome, not to mention that the primary decision (taking the apple) may mean that someone else does not have potentially negative experience.

All of these considerations came to me as I continue to reflect on the past year at MSIH. My mentality of being open to the possibilities being presented in life has been applicable plenty of times, but I had not taken into account how applicable it could be on a daily level. Personally, I don’t think that every scenario can be positive, because while it is always subjective, it is not even always relatively positive and I might be fooling myself if I thought that I felt good in any way about the situation. I’ve found this out from experiences where I’d like to think that anything can become meaningfully positive, but realistically and perceptually, it doesn’t play out. However, also being conscious of this approach, it has made me acknowledge that it is how I react and my next step that counts. Hearing from graduates about their own experiences at this school, there is the sense that the overarching picture is genuinely positive, and that taking all the phases together, including those that might have felt unequivocally negative, there is something good to be said at the outcome. And I feel that a lot of times, it’s out of not knowing yet what can make an influence and how things can change.

This past week during the holiday of Shavuot I was sparked with a lot of new insights and thoughts, as well as some recollections. I still remember the first time I learned about Shavuot and other than the main premises, one concept, if you will, that was brought up in the context of this holiday was that nighttime hides things, that they are unseen only because they are hidden and not because they are gone. I won’t go into the holiday significance of it now, but thinking about it again led me to another train of thought. At the close of the day, if I am focusing on studying, or brushing my teeth, or laying down to sleep, it sometimes almost doesn’t occur to me that I am in Be’er Sheva and all that I encounter being here and not anyplace else. And waking up, after a few seconds, I know that it’s still here, I’m still here, in Israel, at MSIH. But, although everything can clearly be seen again in the daylight, what may not be seen is what is waiting to happen on any given day.

…In fact, the day before the Shavuot, with respect to the holiday there was a cheesecake competition set up by the Israeli students- There is constantly some sort of event to be looking out for, whether it is one hour or one day, a small or a major event, or through BGU or MSIH. What takes on a meaning is one’s interactions and reactions. The second day of this month was Faculty Day (in the week after Student Day, but referring to faculty as in department, not specifically staff), including a series of sports matches; the students representing MSIH in volleyball won the championship, and with the prize money decided to throw a pool party for everyone at the end of this last week. It was another reminder to me of how much I can attribute positive experiences (and the anticipation of positive experiences) to my classmates. Nighttime does not make Be’er Sheva go away, but it also does not hide the great things about the people I share my time here with. Going along, I might expect an apple to be rotting inside, but maybe instead, learning from someone and cutting horizontally this time, find a star in the middle.  -blogger of the month Renata Mazurek