Giving Up Control: The Power of Israel

November 13, 2011
There is a point where we all have to give up control. Usually a lack of control can benefit you in the long run, depending on how you handle the situation. Over spring break, I travelled to Israel for the third time with my family. I was expecting a normal trip visiting friends, extended family, and sites that I hadn’t seen yet. My excitement was diminished when I heard that my cousins from Singapore were joining us for the trip. Because of my absolute hatred for my cousins, I decided that the vacation would be horrible and I would be miserable the whole time, which proved to be true the first night.

Zackary, age 9, and Sarah and Aiden age 7, are really my only close family members. As I was used to being the only grandchild in my grandmothers life, when they came to visit once a year I had trouble sharing the golden spotlight with three small children I saw as insignificant and unexciting. Their often poor behavior only proved my point and I dreaded any time I had to spend with them. It was a matter of complete jealousy- I couldn’t see how my grandparents could love children that didn’t care and know them as much as I did. While this thinking was as petty and childish as their rude behavior, it was completely justified in my clouded mind, for I could not see any other way of dealing with my feelings.

On our first evening in Tel Aviv I left the warm comfort of being an only child to go and meet my cousins in the cold dark world of being ignored and unimportant. I was surprised to notice that Zack ran to me in excitement and was animated and curious about my life and the comparisons to his own. Before I could realize what was going on, I found myself laughing as my heart slowly warmed with the comfort only family can bring.

We went on the next day to tour all the famous Israeli sites with them. Still a little anxious and withdrawn I plugged my iPod in as soon as we got in the car and tried to block out the rest of the world. Through my noise-blocking headphones I heard the unmistakable sound of laughter coming from the rest of my family. Feeling left out, I took out my headphones to try and join in the conversation, but it was too late. Because of my selfishness and unwillingness to let go of past judgments and open my heart to change, I missed out on truly letting myself be part of the family. I left my iPod turned off for the rest of the car ride.

After a long day of hiking in Ein Gedi and being stuck in the Dead Sea mud my sides hurt from laughter and my heart was filled with love. When we got back to the apartment and my grandmother asked me if I had a good time, I said “Yes!” with no sarcasm and with complete sincerity for the first time in my life. Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find out what you’ve been missing. I spent about eight years missing out on great people and great experiences because of my stubbornness. I enjoyed the rest of the trip, and I actually miss them and enjoy talking to them when they call. Maybe it was just the power of being in Israel, or the power of the hard outer shell of my heart falling away, but I learned that you have to give in to win, and you have to allow yourself to be happy to really know what happiness is.

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