It has come to my attention in the past two weeks that the way in which we perceive the world and judge our experiences is based largely on our expectations. Some vignettes:
Mauritania. I went to Mauritania with zero expectations. I could have read, I could have researched, but instead I decided to wing it. I knew it was going to be hot and rainy. I did not know that there would be no TP, no toilets, eating with the hands, beautiful vistas, lots of sheep and goats, and very friendly people. I did not know that we would be sleeping outside and seeing more stars than I have ever seen in my life. However, because I went in with no expectations, I experienced a profound, amazing trip both to Africa and within.
The “4 star hotel”. Some friends of mine went to Turkey for an all-inclusive beach vacation. They were expecting a nice hotel, beautiful beaches, a nightlife, and delicious food. They quickly learned that they were only getting beautiful beaches. They made the best of it, had a great time, but still were slightly disappointed because the hotel did not live up to their expectations.
Slichot. Last night we went to the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem for slichot, a service to begin the formal recognition of God’s perfection and our propensity to sin. We were expecting a beautiful, 1 hour service. It ended 2.5 hours later than we planned. It was a beautiful service, but we were thrown off by expecting to be home before midnight.
Ramallah. Like many of you, I have always been uneasy about heading into Ramallah, the headquarters of the PLO and the West Bank. I had expectations of a run-down city with a lot of security, dark, and dirty. A place where I wasn’t going to feel safe. As we made our way towards the bus depot, I saw a beautiful city of Jerusalem stone, clean, hilly, wide streets, and modern office buildings. I was quite pleased to have those expectations blown out of the water. (more on this later)
I could go on, but I think we all get the idea. Investigate the future as to adequately prepare yourself with the proper expectations. And most importantly, go into situations with an open mind, flexibility, and be prepared to make the most out of every situation. That is my hope for the new year. Shana Tova v’Mitukah. May we all have a sweet and happy new year.