People in Israel tend to be edgy sorts. It is no coincidence that one of the first words any new immigrant learns is savlanut, or ‘patience.’ It’s kind of ironic that the people screaming the word savlanut are usually pushing ahead of me at the bank or trying to grab the last pair of control-top pantyhose in a two-for-one sale at the corner grocery store.
But if we’re a tense country, who can truly blame us? Did you ever check out our neighbors? No matter how many cherry pies we bake for Syria and Lebanon, they are still hell-bent on destroying us. Which is why I’ve embarked on a private campaign to bring more ‘calm’ into my personal space.
I began to assess which areas of my life required deeper breathing and counting to 10 when warranted. Not only did I understand that being peaceful makes those around you more relaxed; my fiancé is a very calm type who takes every life-glitch in stride. Wishing to emulate this marvelous personality trait, I began to pace myself and let go of the little things.
Which worked until the dryer broke.
At first I thought it might be neat to hang all the laundry the way the average Israeli has done since before the establishment of the state. Feeling a little like the mother in Swiss Family Robinson, I began to lug baskets filled with damp wash to the outside patio so all our garments would smell like fresh air and sunshine. What I couldn’t know was that there is something wrong with the washing machine as well, and the final spin cycle doesn’t quite finish the job. Each day the basket got heavier and heavier as less and less water was spun out. Needless to say, the charm of turn-of-the-century laundering was growing thin.
As many readers are aware, the water level of Lake Kinneret is front and center of Israeli concerns because it rains here only in winter and we are facing a serious water shortage from lack of precipitation. Well, have no fear, fellow immigrants and sabras! Whenever I do the aforementioned laundry and hang it outside, the skies open and empty impossible amounts of rain on my last pair of underwear or a week’s worth of bath towels. On one hand, I suppose I should be proud that I have personally made a huge difference in the national water crisis. On the other hand, my soldier-son does generally appreciate being told that no one on his base will know that the Stanley Kowalski-style athletic shirt he is wearing is, in fact, his sister’s favorite Victoria’s Secret tank top. Combat soldiers rarely care that laundry room disasters can throw a family into turmoil.
Undeterred, I’ve also brought more order into my home by doing the Sabbath shopping earlier in the week. Well, that was the plan. Each Wednesday morning I walk to work with a trusty shopping cart, empty and roomy enough to hold enough victuals for happy crowds around the candle-lit table. The only problem is that I’ve never actually made it to the market as planned. Something always comes up, which means that I’m, again, scrambling about the local supermarket on Friday morning and getting the last pot washed just as the siren announces the advent of the Sabbath. But stay tuned. It’s gonna happen!
Finally feeling at peace after making these wonderful decisions, I was enjoying a cup of tea and reading the paper this morning when my 16-year-old daughter darted through the living room, grabbed her coat and rushed out the door. Racing after her before the elevator door slammed, I shouted, “Where are you going?”
“I’m starting driving lessons this morning! Daddy paid for the whole thing! Isn’t that great? I’m sure I told you. Uh, gotta go!”
All right. So the ‘Serenity Now’ plan is getting off to a shaky start. Still, every great accomplishment begins with an idea, a flicker of inspiration.
In the meantime, I’m going to repeat after myself, “Savlanut, Andrea, savlanut.”