Cognitive Dissonance: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the kibbutz

Everyone deals with the feeling of distress that comes from when actual experiences are different than they believed them to be. OTZMAnikim have been through this over and over again during the year, and why I thought the kibbutz would be just as I had always idolized the lifestyle as, is beyond me. And I’m not too sure exactly what I was expecting, but I’ll be honest, it wasn’t too far away from holding hands around a fire singing kumbaya.

But rather than finding a group of amazing good natured souls working the land of Israel, I found something a bit different. A few hundred people spending their entire lives together does not flow quite like I imagined. Some families don’t like each other. People fight and have been fighting for years. The youth have their own issues. Life seems ideal as a young child, growing up with so many peers around you. But as they age, the walls close in bit by bit and an entire neighborhood sized playground can seem like a prison cell a few years later. Without making a choice to devote their life to the cause, many are jaded or worse, apathetic.

And where I come in, things were also not as expected. Rather than spending all year trying to learn Hebrew, it would have been better if I had spent my energy learning Spanish to communicate with most of the volunteers. And we all live at the edge of the kibbutz, which is a visualization of how we felt in the beginning. While I was imagining a cohesive group of the whole kibbutz, I found a distinct divide amongst the volunteers and the kibbutzniks. We eat at a different table, do different work, and speak a different language. We are on the outskirts of the society that I came here to be immersed into.

Yet, despite all this unexpected adversity, I love it here. I haven’t been so happy all year. I thought it would be dull to be spending five hours a day taking plums off of trees, but with boredom conversation flows. Politics, gender roles, love, Seinfeld. It never ceases to amaze me where conversation will turn to when given enough time to develop. And when all else fails, I have made some awesome playlists on my ipod.

I’m fed, clothed, and sheltered. The food might be a constant diet of a variety of toasteem, the clothes may come from the work clothes (think a room sized version of the salvation army), and the shelter is a small double with someone else’s idea of art painted on the walls. All of my basic needs are completely provided for. Our day is finished at 1, we have awesome BBQs at night, smoke nargela in the afternoons, the pool has just opened, and well, I’m so tan. And I’ve come to realize it is not so hard to have to make the best of a situation where time has ceased to matter and every day is another beautiful sunny day. Just like everything I've experienced this year, the kibbutz has its unexpected ups and downs and learning how to deal and then to embrace this cognitive dissonance has helped me grow. These days, the worry I most have is when I have to check out of paradise and resume functioning in the regular world.


Blogger Steven R. Neuman said...

FYI: My Mom said she might have a possible temp job for you.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girl, it's time you came back to the states. When do you come home? I'm leaving for France in less than a week and Alex and I will be in Europe for a month. I miss you.


9:41 PM  

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