Category Archives: Literature

An End of the Year Post

A very personal post with some reflections on the year to put things in perspective…

This was the year I lost my mother, and in a few days, I will have my first birthday on this earth without her.  Wisdom from an older aunt: “I never felt old until I had no one to call mama”…

This was also the year I said a final goodbye to a man I called home…and it was the year when my concept of home got shaken.

This year was just a continuation of a very long era of wars and hatred in this region; it was also a continuation of the descent into a time of intellectual and spiritual darkness.

My way of coping in these past years has been to prioritize happiness: no easy task because it means that one must become more selfish, unfeeling, and apathetic.  One must stay shallow and abandon the dark depths where real life happens. I was successful most of the time, but I missed being who I was when I was younger: more passionate about my beliefs, more emotional, more vulnerable, and much less jaded. I believe that as we grow we must shed some of our older attributes, and even if we miss them, we must leave them behind: every station in life needs a different ticket to ride!

Through it all, and on the rare occasions when I let my guard down, I let some new and stimulating people into my life to shake things up a bit.  I also developed a deeper fondness for the ones who have been here all along, the friends and family who create a circle of comfort.  Still, I spent a lot of time alone questioning my roots, my wings, what I knew, and what I didn’t know.

No year passes without illuminated moments, and I had my share of those, and it is always those moments that I grab on to and highlight to the world outside.

Thank you 2015 for the lessons, for the friends, for the lovers, for the losses, for the wins, and for the changes. You will not be missed and you will not be forgotten…

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, soul searching

Musings on the State of just Being (or My Days of Doing Nothing)

I have been in a state of not having to do something or be somewhere on any particular day or hour for a few days now, a state that is partially voluntary, yet it is not a vacation.

Here is what I have observed so far:

I found myself waking up earlier than I usually did when I had work.

I noticed the details of my house more intently.

I only did things that I wanted to do, not that I had to do and found that I liked doing a lot of the things that I thought I “had” to do!

I found that each day had its own rhythm and it was best to surrender to those rhythms of high energy and low energy.

I thought about things a lot more clearly.

I felt emotionally liberated in that I could feel whatever I wanted to feel without any pressure or control.

I had some very interesting and profound conversations with people.

I discovered that staring at the wall for an hour was not boring at all, but was a sort of peaceful meditation, and a great way to let the mind wander and ponder some deep issues.

I discovered new writers that made me feverish with intellectual excitement.

I got really good as SUDOKU.

I reconnected with reading.

I reconnected with my plants.

I did not for one second feel bored or restless.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arts, Literature

Reading and Other Offline Distractions

Some thoughts now that I have gone back to reading actual books (in paper format).

I won’t talk about the intimate experience of reading a real book and about the connection with the object and the smell of the paper etc… I basically went back to reading offline because I needed to get offline. Here are the thoughts:

FOCUS: Reading on a tablet or laptop or phone is quite distracting for me, because I always find myself interrupted by one thing or another, always multitasking, always in an agitated state of mind: here, there, and everywhere at the same time, and agitation that was both addictive and counterproductive.  Sometimes the mind needs to calm down!

CALM: It’s such a calming effect to only be focuses on one thing at a time!

REFLECTION: Since I am focused and calm, my mind can wander into a state of uninterrupted reflection and thinking without being bothered by electronic signals.

LMA: Leave Me Alone: somehow, if you are actually reading a paper book people are less likely to disturb you than if they see you on some electronic device.  I think it’s because the etiquette of reading is pretty much established, while we’re still working on our e-etiquette.

TIME LAPSE (NOT): Time stretches out and moves at a more natural pace – things take the time they need no more no less.

PERSPECTIVE:  Rereading some stuff that I read years ago, with the perspective of today’s me is an awesome experience, it’s like reading something new altogether.

ONE LAST THOUGHT: Somehow I found that non-electronic reading was a better springboard for creativity, thinking, and emotion than its e-counterpart.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Arts, Literature

Grin and “Bear” it or (How to Cure the Hard Heart Syndrome)

The Hard Heart Syndrome!

Over the course of a lifetime lived in a corner of the world that is full of conflict, war, and death, it sometimes happens that people get a condition that I will call “hardening of the heart”: this is not a medical condition but it is more of a psychological condition or syndrome that gradually diminished one’s apathy and compassion and that makes a person indifferent to the agony of witnessing so much injustice, so much violence, and so much pain.  It is also a condition that makes people selfish, hey, survival in dire times requires self-protection, and self-protection requires a big dose of self-love.

I write this because of a seemingly insignificant incident that happened last week and that got me thinking about starting to reverse the process of the hardening of my heart in order to really feel human again, not only that, but I wanted to remember how a younger version of me experienced life with a fully functioning heart.  So I am writing this blog entry as a totally transparent exercise in self-examination!

It’s just a bear!

Some friends and I went on a little road trip to a mountain village and visited a little wild animal shelter run by a couple who have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness about wildlife in Lebanon (the story of this shelter is very important and I may write about it at a later time).  There we saw different animals with different injuries in enclosures and in cages being taken care of in order to be re-released into the wild.  One animal, a large bear that looked a lot like a grizzly, somehow touched my hardened heart.  The caretaker told us that this species in now nearly extinct in Lebanon, and that this guy is a sole survivor and has been living at the shelter for a while.  This made me sad and stuck with me for days and I’m not the kind of person that gets emotional over animals: I eat meat, and I would wear fur if I could afford it!

It’s a lot to bear!

But this whole unexpected emotional episode over a lonely bear in a big cage really got me thinking about how tough I have become on the inside and I asked myself some hard questions: why is it that children begging in the streets don’t move me? Why don’t the senseless and violent deaths of innocents in the many warzones all over the region make me angry or sad anymore? Why am I indifferent to the plight of millions of refugees? Why do I only care about a small number of people who comprise my family and close entourage? When did I become so good at selecting who to feel for and when to feel? And how did the big sad bear break through my defenses?

Bear with me on this!

Each person who is suffering from “hardening of the heart” will probably have different answers if they were to ask themselves the questions I asked myself, or similar ones depending on what they have selected to harden their heart about.  And (I know I shouldn’t start a sentence with and) even if they found the answers, would that make any difference? Would it cure this affliction? I don’t think it would, although it might help a little in finding a cure or a course of treatment.  And are we really sure we want to be cured? YES I WANT TO BE CURED because a lukewarm life is a sign of surrender!

And I found that the cure lies in a decision, a decision to care again in spite of the pain that is suffered because of caring.

And once I start to care and hurt again, I just might become part of some kind of solution.

Thank you almost extinct bear! I love you

The Bear! You can visit him at https://www.facebook.com/animalencounter.org

The Bear!
You can visit him at https://www.facebook.com/animalencounter.org

3 Comments

Filed under Literature, Social Organization

Yabroud of my Childhood

Back when Lebanon was going through its own civil war, when we were little children, we lived in Yabroud for a few months.  This city that has been in the news lately and whose name has become synonymous with conflict, death, terror, and war, holds a very different image in my mind, one I’d like to share…

Through the eyes of the child I was, Yabroud was a green village, a beautiful oasis with strange looking rock formations on the hills that surrounded it.

In Yabroud, people dropped fruit baskets at our doorsteps and showed us great friendship and hospitality.  The women there still walked to river with their laundry, little boys smoked in the streets, and they cooked wheat in large communal vats in its little neighborhoods.

Some of the older women still wore the traditional colorful costumes of what they claim was “Queen Zenobia’s” time.  They were still proud that the once powerful queen had taken Yabroud as her summer residence.

We even went to school in Yabroud, and it was an unforgettable experience for us; coming from a Western style multilingual system of education we found it strange and foreign to be in a totalitarian traditional type of teaching environment.  What I remember most is that me and my cousin had short hair, unlike all the other girls in our class, and for physical education we were required to tie white bows to our pony tails (which we did not have).  It was mandatory, so we had to pin two large white bows to our short tresses to conform….

We made friends easily there, and although I don’t remember names or faces anymore, I remember the feeling of being welcomed into beautiful homes, I remember the older girls making us ‘Tabbouleh’, and I also remember sitting on beautiful balconies overlooking lush fruit gardens and having a first experience with ‘Matte’ an herbal tea drink very popular in the region.

I do believe that places become part of us, and Yabroud is a part of me.  I will always hold on to the image of this beautiful place through the eyes of the child inside of me, as I try to do with all other places that I am rooted to.

We have lived to see too much violence in this region, it robs the soul of its innocence if you let it!

Today I will pin two white bows to my head in remembrance of a childhood, and adulthood spent in times of war….

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Social Organization

“WE GOT SCARED”

Worth a read, and if you’re not into reading, worth a watch…

http://liquidmini.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/we-got-scared-transcript-from-youtuber-dogmaticcure/

Leave a comment

Filed under Anthropology, Arts, Literature, Political, Social Organization

If it’s not Drama, it’s Apathy?

I am well aware of the very tragic events in the region:  the atrocities of war, the stench of death, the bitterness of hunger, the wretchedness of displaced families, the sorrows of injury and injustice, etc…

I am very well aware of the daily tragedies of homeless children, disenfranchised minorities, the stepped upon migrant workers, the abused women, the cancer and other awful disease victims.

I am well aware of the inequities of life, but I CHOOSE to stay away from the dramatic approach to things.  This  sometimes is misconstrued as apathy, I get it, given the seriously dark state of things, my seemingly neutral attitude can very well be understood as apathy.

Just because someone is not constantly and publicly voicing disapproval, condemnation, lamentation, and disapprobation does not mean one is not affected by the miseries of the world.  It may mean a primal understanding of the chaotic state of life, or of its cyclical nature.  It may mean a certain amount of control over strictly emotional reflexes, in order to gain a better understanding of a situation and to plan out the necessary reactions.  It may mean a state of self preservation in the face of too much drama.

There is already too much drama going on, there is too much screaming at the top of lungs, beating of chests, pulling hair, screaming lungs out, crying a river,  taking vows of revenge, making blanket statements of hate and despair, or even gathering followers based on raw emotion.  If the calmer and more logical approach to the tragedies of this life is to be considered apathy, well then, consider me apathetic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature, Political, Social Organization