Recently I got back from a trip to Israel and Jordan, and Wow! it was incredible. I’ve shamelessly included photos of Tel Aviv, and a few in Wadi Rum & Petra in Jordan.
At the same time, a lot happened emotionally along this journey of planning the trip and going there. I wanted to share this experience with you not as a “How-To” Navigate Risk, but more as “my path” of navigating risk throughout this experience and cultivating safety and support along the way.
A few months ago, I was feeling restless. I have an adventurous spirit. There were a few trips cancelled during COVID and I was eager to go somewhere with my family. My parents took me to interesting places as a teenager and these trips helped me feel my connection to the world and also marvelled at what our earth has to offer. This was something I wanted to offer my kids too.
Through a series of fortuitous steps, my husband and I found ourselves wanting to go to Israel and Jordan. We booked the trip for our family over Easter this year. Energetically, culturally and spiritually we thought this would be an interesting time, because not only was it Easter, but Passover and Ramadan too.
Over the time leading up to the trip, the political situation in Israel was showing some heat with 100s of thousands of people taking to the street in protests of the potential changes happening to their judicial system. The official decision about whether these changes were going to go through were scheduled in the middle of our trip. 1 day prior to going, the airport shut down outgoing flights and masses of people stopped working.
When people come to therapy, there is often a problem that requires a certain level of risk to either change or accept. Throughout the course of therapy people may learn:
1) What their risk-comfort level is in regards to the problem at hand
2) What they need to cultivate within themselves to make a choice that is best for themselves
3) What they need from the world & others to support them along the way
Knowing My Risk Comfort Level
When it came to making this decision about whether to go or not, I noticed that my risk-comfort level was high in this situation. The ability to tolerate risk is something I’ve cultivated throughout my childhood through both healthy and unhealthy ways. In addition, I have experience travelling on my own and with others, so this wasn’t the first place that I’ve ever visited.
I was fortunate during this experience to have a friend in Tel-Aviv. The News can be heavily biased or it can be highly accurate. I really didn’t know, so I was grateful to be able to connect to someone living there.
My friend was nervous. We both wanted to spend time together, and at the same time it hadn’t been this politically rocky in Tel Aviv in a long-time for him. The part I didn’t know about him was his risk-comfort level, so I had to keep this in mind.
I also knew that I needed to steer hard and fast from discussing this dilemma with the anxious travellers in my life. They were not going to be helpful with this decision as their fear would lead their decision.
What I needed was to talk to someone who had a similar risk comfort level as me. For me, that was my husband and my sisters.
My husband is very grounded and also invested in keeping our family safe. We both acknowledged we would be sad to cancel this trip, but that a high degree of physical safety was important. This led my husband and I to not stay in Jerusalem, but book a day-trip there instead.
My sisters have travelled extensively and to areas that also are labelled, “risky”. They both reminded me that I couldn’t let fear be my loudest guide in this decision and we explored what the potential risks were and whether my family & I were okay with that.
Through conversations, my husband and I decided to take it one day at a time leading up to the trip and ultimately cancel if needed. I will say that if the vote in Israel hadn’t been delayed and the escalation in protests amplified even louder, our decision may have been different.
I want to highlight here, that asking for support has not been my strength and this is something I’ve been working on. Years ago, I remember watching an episode of Modern Family and seeing the responsible sister Alex describe herself as a “self-cleaning oven”. Yes Alex, I can relate.
Yes, I could’ve muscled through making this decision all in my head, however the support throughout the decision-making process reduced my stress-level and helped me to not take on all the responsibility.
Another thing I did in this situation was connect to my intuition. I can have moments of strong knowing about the future. Not always, but when it shows itself, I listen. This knowing can be an anchor to hold onto along the way. I felt a sense of certainty within myself that goes beyond reason. My instinct for this trip was that we were going to be going.
On the day before leaving, when everything was shutting down in Israel, the government made a decision to delay the date of the decision about the judicial changes to way after my time there. I won’t lie, that was a big relief.
Adapting To Risk
For the first part of our trip, the politics and events in Israel were uneventful. However close to the end of our trip, there were big things that happened in Jerusalem – I don’t think I can do justice to explain it all.
Needless to say, we had booked our day-trip to Jerusalem on Good Friday. The government had decided to bring in over 2000 extra police on this day. At the same time some rockets were going back and forth between Israel and Syria & Lebanon. There were also some random acts of terror in various locations.
So while we would’ve loved to see Jerusalem, we opted not to. A reason to go back 🙂
Perspectives On Risk
When I asked my sons whether they felt safe in Israel & Jordan, they 100% agreed that they did.
As a parent, I would say that 95% of the time I also felt safe there. Certainly, my husband and I carried the responsibility of safety for our children.
Throughout the most heated time that we were there, thousands of people were at the beach and living their lives.
We cancelled our day-tour to Jerusalem, but it still ran, and there was no incidents.
The last night we stayed in Tel-Aviv, there was an incident nearby where I heard the most sirens I’ve ever heard in my life. In the evening, a car had struck some pedestrians, flipped over, the man came out of his car, and he was immediately shot.
By the next morning, lots of people were out and enjoying that same area.
At first it was thought to be an act of terror, but later the news shared that it was probably someone who had a heart-attack. That fact is not as easy to find on the news.
My friend in Tel Aviv talked about how culturally people often keep their doors unlocked or everyone knows each-other’’s door-codes. His opinion was that this was almost a way to counteract the base-level of fear in the country. People weren’t afraid of their neighbours, in fact there was a feeling of unity amidst it all.
We met an American living in Israel, and he said that he felt safer living in Israel than the States.
On the plane ride to Israel, the plane-ride was packed with people coming to visit for Passover. We also met plenty of tourists enjoying their time in Israel & Jordan.
Whew – that was a lot! My invitation to you, is to explore one area in your life that you are navigating risk, and reflect on what inner or outer resources you might need to support you along the way.
Whenever I get to travel, I’m always reminded about how connected we all are. I was also struck by the avenues of support that were available along the way if I took the time to notice and connect to them.
As always – I’d love to hear about any stories you want to share about your travels or navigating risk.