Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

Soccer and destiny

I don’t know with exact surety, but I think this is my last column of the semester. This time, rather than merely describing the foreign-yet-homey culture of Israel, I thought I’d leave everyone with a lesson they can carry into the future. Thus, please allow me to tell you a story:

            It was October, at the end of the week-long break in our work for the holiday of Sukkot. I sat in my aunt’s apartment in Tel-Aviv with her and her kindergarten-aged daughter after an afternoon celebration of Simchat Torah, and I pondered what I would do with my evening. I had originally planned to go to a soccer game between Israel and Moldova to which my volunteering group had invited everyone, but by the time I called my city coordinator she had allocated all the tickets. I had even called all my friends to ask if anyone had spare tickets, but nobody had one. It unfortunately looked as though I had to just go back to Ashdod for the evening and lay in bed (the only piece of furniture I had to myself in the whole apartment) until everyone could get home to tell my how much fun they had without me. Once again I felt like a shlimazel (Yiddish, not Hebrew), a person so unlucky that when they open a funeral home people stop dying.

            So, dejectedly, I took a monit sherut (shared taxi) from uptown to the impoverished, whore-ridden neighborhood where bizarrely stands the New Tel-Aviv Central Bus Station. I stood in line to have my bag checked by the security guard, which they do this to everyone at every entrance to every bus station, mall, and airport in the entire country, and I walked inside to find the bus to Ashdod. As I passed a shoe store, only there because many of Israel’s newer central bus stations include a shopping mall, I quite literally ran straight into my friends from Ashdod. One of them asked if I felt sure that I didn’t want to come to the soccer game and try to scalp a ticket.

            At this point I got smart. I’ve never really believed in destinies or divine plans, preferring to relegate such things to “Legend of Zelda” games, but at that moment I decided that if I could see where the metaphorical wind was blowing, I ought to follow it. Hineh and behold, after that everything worked out that night. Sure, I almost had to buy a ticket from one of my own flatmates, but in the end I met the volunteer from Tel-Aviv from whom she had planned to get the spare ticket and ended up receiving it for free like everyone else. I enjoyed the game, made a new friend and learned that stadium naqniqiyot-sausages-in Israel are really just the same-old Shofar brand hot dogs they serve at Shea Stadium. Sure, we ended up having to take a taxi, a bus, and a monit sherut to get home from Ramat Gan via Tel-Aviv to Ashdod, but they actually wouldn’t have taken the extra step if my friends hadn’t paid the taxi driver for taking us to the train station instead of the bus station (you’ve got to go hard on Israeli taxi drivers).

            Of course, I suppose I should have followed that logic back last spring when I applied for the whole volunteering gig. If I’d recognized that endless requirements, changes in staff, and senseless requirements meant a path I shouldn’t walk down I probably would have spent the past semester at UMass, missing nothing but the opportunity to take in some warm weather. In contrast, my readmission to UMass has gone swimmingly.

            You don’t even need to believe in anything mystical to follow this philosophy. One can simply employ one’s time more productively and more enjoyably by doing the things that go right rather than the things that go wrong for no apparent reason. Obviously some things come with real challenges for real reasons – you can’t build a bridge without a solid understanding of Newtonian physics and some good old-fashioned muscle – but to avoid a chaval al ha’zman, a waste of time, you should probably check how things work out. It’s like driving. If you have a five-hour drive to complete and find yourself stuck in traffic every time you try to move a foot, you may want to find an alternate route or stop for lunch.  If, on the other hand, you find yourself on clear highways with a wide-open left lane and no cops, you should charge on ahead.

            Tazuzu! Get moving!

            Eli Gottlieb is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at egottlie@student.umass.edu.

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