with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Center of the World?

Driving in Tel Aviv is an experience. Need I say more. Okay, I do. Heading down Alozorov, I witnessed a truly shocking event. One car ahead of me was a Mercedes Benz. In the lane next to it was a good-sized motor scooter driven by an even bigger sized man. This is an everyday event in Tel Aviv, but the fact that the scooter man was having a conversation, one hand on the scooter and the other on a cigarette flying about in the air, with the man in the Mercedes (also with one hand on the steering wheel and the other hanging out the window, cigarette punctuating the air) WHILE DRIVING DOWN the road. This wasn’t the quick chat at the light. This went on for BLOCKS. They kept swerving between their two plus lanes, staying up with each other, chatting away while cars swerved to avoid and try to go around them, honk at them, and avoid smashing into each other. I witnessed three almost crashes, including one with a bus. My friend and I followed this almost catastrophe from Namir until Dizengoff where both of them turned left (illegally) from their perspective lanes, in synch while still chatting. They were still going down Dizengoff, side by side, as I passed the intersection.

Continuing my own course, I wanted to scream, "Idiot Israelis!" but I didn’t. That is too easy. Too often we take the easy way out. I am at a point in my life where I want to confront my fears and belief system, questioning my prejudicism in all forms. I call this "personal integrity". So I gave this more thought before passing judgment. The lesson I got from this event was not just that too many people here are arrogant and think the world revolves around themselves, but that they actually do think that the world does revolve around themselves while thinking that the world does NOT revolve around themselves. Let me make this clearer.

Remember Cheryl Richardson’s comment about "extreme self care"? She says that when there is an emergency on an airplane, the instructions are to put the oxygen mask over your own face before putting it on the child next to you. Take care of yourself first, and you will have more energy to take care of others around you. Right? We’ve been talking a lot about how to take care of yourself over the past six months of this program. It involves things like finding your passion (helping you to do what you love not what you do for other reasons), getting past your excuses (I’m too tired, not enough money, not enough time, whine whine whine), and learning how to communicate better, set boundaries, and ask for what you want. Are you taking better care of yourself?

What I am hearing from many of you, especially those who aren’t coming to the meetings regularly, is that you aren’t. You are "trying" but not doing. That’s okay. If you got anything out of this program, it is the fact that you have to take better care of yourself because you are all you got! When you take better care of yourself, you will make better choices and have more time, money, and energy for all the things that are really important in life. This program is about making your life over and it starts with taking care of yourself – first.

Listening to you all, what I hear from people is that the needs of others come first. This doesn’t sound like arrogant Israelis! This sounds like self-sacrificing folks. Yet, in the middle of traffic, I found two guys who believed that for that moment, what they were doing was more important than the drivers around them, the bus load of people, and all the manners in the world. While you may think these guys behavior was as outrageous as I do, they really believed that the world revolved around them at that moment and that they were the center of the universe. No one and nothing else mattered. What they were doing was more important than all else.

Yet, if I asked them later, outside of their vehicles, if they really were arrogant and believed that the world revolved around them, they would deny it, I’m sure.

We are taking care of ourselves, whether we admit it or not. Are there moments when you really do think the world revolves around you, but you deny it? Isn’t that taking away your personal power? I’m not talking about being rude and selfish to others, but selfish in yourself to put yourself first with extreme self care. When we deny ourselves the gift of ourselves, we are short changing our lives. We are taking away our power, energy, strength, and our own personal integrity. It is okay to be the center of the world, and it’s okay to admit it when you are. Just don’t do it on the street while endangering the lives of others.

As I pondered all this, I noticed a car in front of me had a great bumpersticker. "If you don’t like my driving, get off the sidewalk!". The only reason I noticed the car and the bumpersticker was that it was indeed driving half on the sidewalk and half on the road ahead of me.

Returning home, I found another bumpersticker that touched me even deeper. I think it is appropriate in this time and place, and in this discussion. I hope you write it down and stick it up on your bathroom mirror:

"Don’t postpone joy!"

The Life Makeovers year long project has completed in Tel Aviv with Lorelle VanFossen and Ruth Alfi, but you can get involved or start your own group through the author of the book, Life Makeovers, Cheryl Richardson.

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