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Awakening Your Inner Hero 

Bananas in Bend


Think about it for a second. Where do bananas come from? Almost none of them come from our own country. Ninety-four percent come from Central America, which is approximately 4,000 miles south of Bend. Every grocery store in Bend will tell you that bananas are one of the best-selling items in the entire store. Often the top-selling item. Bananas!

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I get a little nervous when our banana supply gets down to two or three, or a few of them are getting brown.

"Honey, we need to get some bananas," is one of the most common requests uttered in our home. Apparently, it is uttered in homes all over America. We love our bananas. And when we are able acquire what we love, it makes us happy. When we can't get the things we love, our happiness is impacted, generally not for the better...unless we know the secret.

Americans have made sure that their perfectly ripened bananas arrive by airplanes, ships, 18-wheelers and delivery trucks, and we can purchase them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are just one of the thousands of items we love, so we have figured out how to purchase them to "fulfill" our seemingly unquenchable desires. The average banana list is quite long.

Obviously, bananas is simply a metaphor for the things we desire, the effort it takes to acquire them, and how we, nearly universally, take our bananas for granted. I take too many of mine for granted. If I want 'em, I get 'em. I am a lucky guy. Lucky, fortunate, charmed, blessed. Choose your adjective.

One common understanding of happiness is simply having what you want—at least a good percentage of it. Enough income, good grades, close friends, a dry diaper, clean clothes, the right doctors. Much dissatisfaction can occur when we don't get what we want. It can put us into a real downspin. Nearly every violent incident reported in the news is, on the surface, triggered by someone or some group that didn't get what they wanted or got what they didn't want.

There are many powerful stories about people who were able to dramatically subdue their hunger for daily wants and desires while sublimely elevating and deepening their sense of inner peace. Isn't that our ultimate goal?

I first heard this story five years ago. Go online and see it for yourself @

Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz is one of my heroes.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1972. His whole life he knew he was going to be a shaliach, a rabbi who goes into a community somewhere in the world and provides support and guidance to Jews of all backgrounds. Moving away from our Jewish roots has been a theme, especially since the end of World War II, the horrors of the pogroms and the Holocaust. While there is still great pride in associating with our heritage, there is also residual shame and justifiable fear. Assimilation has become a compelling option. The shaliach and his wife, the shlichah, dedicate their lives to reverse this trend. Their primary tools are joy, endless determination and love.

Yitzi's joyful light was boundless.

In 2013 he was diagnosed with a most debilitating type of ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease. Today, our dancing Yitzi can no longer move and cannot breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. He communicates using a computer with software that tracks his eye movements to move the cursor. Still, he writes a weekly blog and still he offers marital advice to searching souls.

After learning of his devastating diagnosis, these were Yitzi's words. "I resolved, right there and then, that no matter what the results of any further tests, I am going to remain positive and find a way to make a difference. I couldn't imagine how high that way of thinking would take me."

His wife, Dina, said, "There are thousands and thousands of people going through their own hardships, their own sicknesses, their own tragedies, that look to my husband for guidance, for love, for support, for somebody who understands them. He knows what's going on and he chooses to be happy."

Does getting what we want truly make us happy?

How about getting what we truly need?

Take a breath...ponder.

We have so much to learn.

Thankfully, we are blessed to have teachers in the world like our dear Yitzi.

Keep learning.

Sending love.

—Burt Gershater is a life coach, leadership trainer, speaker and writer. He can be reached at

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