What I Learned This Week

December 8, 2023

Actually, it was two weeks. Nurit, my wife, and I traveled to Uruguay. I committed myself to deliver a keynote to GeneXus “What Next” convention attended by three thousand people from all over the world. (The company provides software app that uses AI and enables programmers to program significantly faster). But Nurit and I had another agenda for our trip. We are deeply concerned with the rise of antisemitism in the United States. What is happening in leading universities is scary. Our grandchildren in NYC are going to a Jewish school. The school is surrounded by police cars and private security guards with dogs sniffing for bombs. And when they take the subway home, they remove the little hat on their head which Jewish people wear, and were told that if anyone asks them if they are Jewish to say no. It feels like Germany in the beginning of the 1930’s. So, Nurit and I went to explore, if it really gets worse in America, where do we go next? (My firstborn has already decided and is moving his family in February).

It is sad. Sad to be a wandering Jew. Moving from country to country to save our lives. And that small piece of land, Israel, 63 percent of it desert, and the rest, most of it was malaria infested swamps, is not secure either. The world is supporting the Palestinians whose motto is “ From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. And guess free of what? Of the Jewish people. Hamas says it publicly that what they did on October 6, beheading babies, or putting babies in the oven till they turn into ashes, and do it in front of their mother, killing parents in front of their children and raping every women they could find, is not a one-time act. They proclaim, publicly, that this is their aim and will do it again and again till Palestine is free. And it hurts that thousands, thousands of people march in major cities of the world, chanting the slogan for Palestine to be free…..

We found Uruguay to be a relaxed, easy-going, friendly country, like the United States in the fifties. No tension. I believe it is the only country where the president walks down the street , with no body guards, stops to have a hot dog. And no one bothers him. There are political parties, they debate each other, but it is civilized. No aggression. I attribute it to the fact that it is a large country with small population, just three million people, with lots of green pastureland and forests. In my travel I noted the more people per square mile, the more tension, aggression, and problems.

Uruguay has free public health services of high quality, free university education in public universities which are also of high standards. Although the countryhasa small population, Uruguay won, I believe, more than once, the World Cup in soccer. While we were there, they beat both Brazil and Argentina. Messi playing.

In my keynote and my meeting with the secretary of mining industry and energy I warned the leadership of the country. They want development. They want more immigration and investments. Depending on what kind of immigrants come in and what kind of investments are done, they can lose the quality of life they have and inherit gridlock traffic, pollution, crime, high divorce rate and stress inducing political confrontations.The most important things in life, their value is known by their absence. Take health. We don’t appreciate health till we get sick. Do not appreciate democracy till we live in a dictatorship and recognize the value of love till we face hate. So, I said, development is fine, but you might lose your quality of life like Montenegro did by having wild uncontrollable construction for low-price tourism. And look what happened to the jewel of Mexico: Acapulco. Even cats refuse to go there, soon to happen to Cancun. Development is not equivalent to better quality of life. On the contrary. I do not know if I was listened to but I know they heard me.

While in Uruguay I developed an excruciating pain in my left leg, the one that I did not do a knee replacement. I could not put my foot down. I dragged my foot and was in serious pain. Flying back, for reasons I will explain later, we had to stop in Panama City and spent three days in a hotel just sleeping. I was beyond exhaustion because while in Uruguay, beyond giving the keynote presentation, I also lectured to the Jewish synagogue about the rise of antisemitism, went to two universities for meetings with Deans and Rectors to discuss how to introduce the Adizes Methodology in their curriculum, plus I gave a workshop to top business people of the country, and met nonstop with people. Yes I over, over-pushed myself. I was exhausted and the harder I worked the more my leg hurt. When I ended the long sleep In Panama City, that gave me back my strength, surprise. No pain in the left leg. No need to go to the orthopedist to schedule knee replacement.

What did I learn?

Energy is fixed. I used it to the last drop in lecturing and meetings. The weak leg that necessitated a knee replacement needed extra energy to operate. I had none to give. So it hurt. And hurt badly. Apparently, much of our physical pain comes from lack of energy that was wasted on stress, on hard mental work, on abuse of our body. Next time if I am in pain, I will go first to rest. Then we will see what to do next.

In my mind, I was a young person with unlimited energy. In reality, I am an 86 year old man who, to start with, has less energy than a young man, a man who took a trip of twenty-five hours door to door with lots of stress that airports generate with their security and immigration demands, moving to a country with time zone changes, having difficult time adapting sleep patterns. Add to it, non-stop lecturing. In other words, I was behaving like a young man full of energy while in reality I was an elderly man with limited energy. The lesson: It is not what you think you are that counts; it is what you are.

We stopped in Panama City because on the flight I started to shake violently from feeling extremely cold and the multiple blankets did not help. I was also hallucinating and throwing up. If it was not for my wife who convinced the pilot not to have an emergency landing, who knows which hospital I would have ended in, in that part of the world. We disembarked in Panama City and went to a hotel and I slept nonstop for sixteen hours. No food. Nothing. Just sleep. And then I took a test and found out that I got Covid.

I have a kidney transplant. I take pills to reduce my immunities to zero. Covid could be a death sentence for me. I was watching my reaction to the news. I was calm. Real calm. Not scared. Nothing. If it is time to go, I am ready, I said to myself. I did the best I could do for the world I belonged to. No remorse. I have no secrets with my wife or children. Nothing that was not said. My children are self-actualized. My wife taken care of. So, what is there to worry? Lesson? Do your best while you are alive, and you will not feel guilty when you die.

Third day in Panama City, my fever stopped, my coughing stopped. Covid gone. Thank God for all the vaccines I took. I am writing this blog on the plane flying home.

That is all for now.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes