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Friday, June 25, 2004

The 'Aha!' factor of question #10

First off, I wanted to thank everyone who extended birthday wishes. Receiving comments and e-mail from family, friends, and lots of new acquaintances was the perfect antidote to my annual birthday depression.

As my wife can attest, I become a 'not-so-nice person' to be around during this time of year (she might even use a term of endearment that rhymes with grass knoll). You see, around my birthday I become hypercritical of myself, and I nearly always look back on the previous year and wonder how the hell I managed to end up with so little to show for such a big chunk of time.

Over dinner the night before my birthday, my wife asked me one of her typically 'bright-eyed' questions (presumably to try to cheer me up): "Tell me something you have to be thankful for this year?" I was in no mood to be trifled with... couldn't she see I was already in the throws of my pre-birthday funk?

It wasn't until I sat down at the computer to write my list of 'things' for my birthday post that I realized that my heart really wasn't in it... my funk, that is... not the list. I was moping around more out of habit than from any real malaise.

However, as I was writing my list, I had an epiphany when I came to #10, the ‘Ginger or Maryanne’ question. It is such a neat pop-culture question because nearly everyone immediately understands the reference. More than that, every adolescent girl had decided early on who she wanted to be… and every adolescent boy had simply decided whom he wanted. As a cultural touchstone, few three-word phrases are so immediately and universally understood.

So, where’s the epiphany? The ‘aha!’ factor of the ‘Ginger or Maryann’ question is the rarity of its universality. Great...one shared cultural moment and everyone is high-fiving one another. Here in Israel, there are literally hundreds of shared cultural touchstones, any one of which would elicit the same instant connectedness in any random group of Israelis. I realize that whenever someone relates one of these ‘Only in Israel’ anecdotes, I have one of those ‘aha' moments... and I'm home.

And that, my friends, is what made me start to understand that I wasn’t really feeling down (your comments and e-mails did the rest!).

I guess moving to Israel this year has opened my eyes to my good fortune. Everything I want or need, I have. Things I don't have I’ve learned I can easily live without. And most important, I have begun to think of myself as part of a larger whole... a citizen of a country, rather than just a sojourner in its midst. A person who is connected with the ‘aha!’ factor in not one, but hundreds of shared cultural experiences.

Shabbat Shalom

Posted by David Bogner on June 25, 2004 | Permalink


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Er... is the 'Ginger or Maryanne' thing a generational bit? Because I have to say that I haven't the *slightest* clue what you're talking about.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Feb 19, 2006 6:35:12 AM

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