Over the past few months, we have witnessed increased debate among FNC members in the UAE over the state of the Arabic language. Some of these debates have pushed for enforcing Arabic as the teaching language in all government schools and universities. Others focused on boosting the stature of Arabic language overall in our communities. Whether some of us are for or against these positions, the fact remains that our Arabic language is facing a battle for survival.
When I was at school in the UAE, the subjects taught in Arabic were almost equal in number to those taught in English. Religion, social studies, geography and history were delivered in Arabic. Maths, science and business studies were delivered in English. I was never really aware of the impact of such a split on my Arabic language skills until recently.
A 16-year-old daughter of a friend of mine called me up for help with an Arabic language assignment. She was tasked with writing an essay on a topic of her choosing. As I sat down to review her first draft, I was simply shocked.
Her essay contained a flood of slang Arabic words, a couple of English words and too many grammatical errors to count. She is an honors student. She is also a student in one of the private schools that follow a fully English curriculum, except for the Arabic language class.
She speaks to her friends, who are a mix of Arabs and non-Arabs, in English. At home, she speaks to her parents in English. At malls and in restaurants, she speaks to the staff in English. She tells me that the only people she speaks Arabic to are her grandparents, and mainly because they are not comfortable conversing with her in English. She obviously stands little chance at nailing her Arabic essay.
Not long after that incident, I happened to be with my daughter in a toyshop. An Arab lady walked in with her two daughters. Immediately, our girls started playing together. It was not long before one of the daughters rushed to tell her mother that she didn't understand what my daughter was saying. The little girl was speaking to her mother in English; my daughter spoke Arabic.
As I acted as a translator between the two girls, I understood from the mother that she only speaks to her girls in English and French. This way, she explained, they will be fluent in two foreign languages early on. Fluent in two foreign languages, I thought to myself, but can't speak their own mother tongue. Something just didn't add up.
The factors that are contributing to the demise of the Arabic language and its use amongst its native speakers are numerous. Some of these are institutional, in the form of schools and universities that have dropped the focus on enriching Arabic language skills in students.
Others are part of the westernization and globalization that our region - and other regions of the world - are being exposed to. And sadly, some of these factors come from within us. I can't help but associate the tendency of native Arabic speakers to avoid speaking in Arabic to a lack of pride in who we are and what we are.
Globally, I think we face a lot of scrutiny as Arabs. From some quarters, we are constantly questioned on our culture, beliefs and traditions. We are associated in the minds of some with chaos and anarchy. In western media, some even portray the Middle East as aggressive. In news bulletins, we are the troubled region. And to an extent, these are indeed some of the realities of our communities and societies that we continue to battle on a daily basis.
But there is also another side to the story. There are a lot of things to be proud of as Arabs. There is a history of bright advances and civilisation that we brought to this world. There is a set of values we carry that cherishes family and community. There is a genuine dose of empathy and care that we extend to all around us, local and foreign. There is humbleness and generosity so engrained in our culture. There are Arab cities and citizens who are trying to rise above the chaos. There is a future that is ours to shape.
There is a lot more to be proud about. And perhaps it all starts here. Perhaps we ought to restore our pride in who we are before we can restore the stature of our Arabic language.
This article was first published in The National - www.thenational.ae
On a Saturday evening, I prepared my dinner and sat on my couch browsing the Time May's edition. Half way through their "Worked to Death" article, and my toasted cheese sandwich, this picture looked back at me, blown up across two pages. I couldn't swallow what was in my mouth and had to spit it out.
They don't know yet who they were, but these two factory workers who perished on April 24th in the building collapse in Bangladesh apparently "became a symbol of the deadliest accident in the history of the garment industry", and I am quoting. But I had stopped reading the article, and could do nothing but stare right at the picture. The small blood stream escaping the man's eye, his trapped lower body under the rubble, the woman's floral dress, her surrendered posture and their final embrace. And all this tragedy for what? For a pay of less than $40 a month.
I am enraged. Enraged at so many things. At poverty so deep that forces one to live in horrible conditions for some cash. At the terror they must have gone through before dying. At corruption spread so wide and deep to allow such crimes to happen. At big corporates rushing to "cheap labor" countries for extra dollar signs at the end of the fiscal year. At politicians who have buried their conscience and their humanity in rubble deeper than the one in the picture.
"I don't think this is really serious, it's an accident" - the Bangladeshi Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith uttered these words not long after the 500th body was pulled from the rubble.
Al Rashidiya is a Palestinian refugee camp on the coast just south of Tyre, in southern Lebanon. It has been home to around 18,000 exiled Palestinians for six decades now.
I visited Al Rashidiya with Lebanese social workers last year. They call the place the "downtown" of refugee camps in Lebanon, using the term for an upscale seafront district in central Beirut lined with outdoors cafes and nice restaurants and high-end designer stores.
Al Rashidiya is not like that, even though it is on the seafront, too.
The camp is built on a grid, and whichever alley you take you must go to the left or the right of the qanay, the open ditch that stretches down the length of each alley. Dug to drain rainwater, these seem to be filled with dirty water at all times.
Al Rashidiya's beige cement houses are almost all square, and average 80 square metres. Some house just two people; others have 10 or more. They all have small barred windows like those in prisons.
Abu Ahmed, dressed in a clean white shirt and black suit trousers, is sitting in front of his house sipping Turkish coffee. Additional white plastic chairs welcome anyone who wants to have coffee with him.
Mr Ahmed is 71, and has witnessed too many wars, lost too many friends and believed in too much rhetoric.
As a young man, he says, he was ready to lay his life down for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Back in those days young men and women vowed to bring back to the Palestinians all that had been lost.
He speaks of his heartbreak as the years passed and these young idealists aged and corruption became entrenched within the PLO and dreams of regained dignity collapsed.
His eyes sparkle as he speaks of the days Hamas emerged as a replacement for the PLO, as a new group of young men and women vowing to bring back to the Palestinians all that had been lost. This group's ideology was different from that of the PLO, but it shared the resistance agenda the PLO had once displayed.
Then his eyes dim, and he sighs. The new dreams of regained dignity have collapsed again. As the years passed this new group became corrupted, so hungry for power that they killed other Palestinians.
He speaks of his misery in watching the fight between the two factions in Gaza and the West Bank. He despises politics and politicians, and how those in power can force a shift in the livelihood of a given community.
These days, Mr Ahmed says, the shops in Al Rashidiya are forced to close during Friday prayers, but this new rule is about power, he believes, not religion. He prays five times a day, but wishes those in power would force children to go school. Enrolment is at an all-time low.
I try to tell him that I empathise with the people living in this dire situation. But he just laughs and he tells me that Palestinian refugees are not worse off than other citizens in the Arab world. He tells me how in 2006, scores of Lebanese citizens from surrounding villages fled to Al Rashidiya for shelter after losing their homes in Israeli raids. He saw the irony: Lebanese citizens on Lebanese soil seeking refuge in a Palestinian camp.
Even before the conflict in Syria, he tells me, scores of Syrian workers flooded Palestinian camps in Lebanon, searching for work.
He tells me of a recent trip he took to Cairo to visit his son who has been long married to an Egyptian woman.
Touring Cairo with his son he noticed that the road winding up to the Giza pyramids was lined with little shacks selling cigarettes and snacks. He recalls that there were many children sitting on the kerb of that street and what dawned on him most was how poor they looked. He once felt betrayed and forgotten but he realises now that scores of citizens across the Arab world feel exactly the same.
I tell Mr Ahmed that there is some hope coming with the Arab Spring, and that the young generation will drive this region to better places.
He looks away and he tells me he has been here too many times.
I take one last sip of my dark Turkish coffee and bid Mr Ahmed farewell. I walk away, head down, thinking of what this region is up against: Islamist extremism and the secular versus religious divide; the proxy wars that are being fought; sectarian violence; power hungry regimes that are replacing old ones; and the new refugees of the Arab world.
And I hope that Mr Ahmed lives long enough for all of that to change, and for that long-lost twinkle in his eyes to sparkle yet again.
This article first appeared in The National - www.thenational.ae
When I was 10 years old, I was drawn fully into world events unfolding in front of me.
I remember the First Gulf War and the sight of tanks on the streets of Kuwait city. I remember the first Palestinian Intifada and the much-watched video of an Israeli soldier breaking the elbows of a stone-throwing Palestinian boy. I remember images of starving children in Africa and the bedraggled Bosnian women and children fleeing their home villages and the prospect of ending up in mass graves.
And I remember thinking that there must be a way to make all this wrong right again, a way to alleviate suffering and injustice, and a way I could be part of that.
I grew up thinking of myself as a human being, rather than a man or woman. But as the teenage years approached, I realised how naive that idea was, in a society that would so thoroughly make clear the boundaries for females.
So I rebelled, making up my mind to be a woman of the world, hopeful, determined to leave a mark.
I started university at age 16 in Canada, 11,000 kilometres from home. I graduated at the age of 20, held my first managerial position at 23, joined a consultancy firm at 24 and at 30 became director at a top-tier company.
And an overwhelming number of Arab women have stories far more fulfilling than mine.
The Arab women I know are truly inspiring. Their dreams, their passion to be better human beings, their drive to pursue their dreams and the success they reap every day in every aspect of life are truly remarkable.
But with all the change sweeping through the Arab world, it's important to ask a question: where do Arab women stand in all this? What future will we build for our nations? What role will we claim for ourselves?
Men have their own ideas. As gender experts told a conference in Dubai on Wednesday, the most important thing is to include men in any discussion on how to empower women.
But women may see things differently. So trying to answer these questions, I approached a sample of 70 Arab women to ask them what they thought. What they told me was fascinating.
The overwhelming majority spoke of self-improvement as their number one priority, far exceeding raising a family, finding a partner or anything else our society deems most important for women.
These 70 said self-development, financial independence and a career are their top priorities.
Asked what they spend most of their time doing, many put taking care of family first.
Finally, asked how satisfied they are with their lives, around 75 per cent spoke of a need for change.
My survey, while not exactly scientific, nonetheless says something about female priorities. If Arab women spend more time taking care of family and less time on themselves, is this because of societal expectations, or a lack of support networks to let them rise beyond their traditional roles?
The case for empowering women is not just a matter of answering personal dreams. It is also about building thriving economies and fulfilled societies.
Governments and institutions have a critical role in increasing female empowerment - at work, in schools. Quotas and decrees are needed. But these are not enough.
Arab women need to claim a new position in society, finding a way to live in harmony with their own priorities.
But are Arab women willing to do that? How hard are we willing to work towards building a model in which women support women in the workplace, at home and beyond? How much time and effort are we willing to commit to reaching our self-development goals rather than just writing them down?
When will we be able to release ourselves from self-imposed guilt if we go out there and be all that we can be?
The time is ripe for Arab women to take the lead. I look around and see talented Arab women all over in their various roles as professionals, artists, mothers and wives; it is a renaissance time for Arab women just waiting to happen.
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world", as Mahatma Gandhi said. So what's your change today?
First written for The National - www.thenational.ae
There was an intriguing cartoon in one of the Arabic newspapers last month, around Mother's Day. The sketch showed a young boy holding out a gift. But the intended recipient was not his mother, but the family nanny.
Editorial cartoons are by definition meant to exaggerate the intended message. But I didn't see any exaggeration here. All I could think of, looking at the caricature, was that perhaps this really happens. Perhaps some children do draw more motherly affection from nannies or other domestic servants than from their biological mothers.
As a mother myself, I sometimes lay awake worrying about how much modern families depend on live-in helpers and nannies to raise our children. Observing this trend, that is becoming so very socially acceptable, makes me uneasy.
Too often, I have heard one or another of my friends who is a mother refer to her live-in nanny as the "second mother" to her children.
Time and time again, when I go to the playground with my little girl, I am saddened to notice that I am the only mother around. Listening to the nannies scolding the children of their employer, in a language that the child may not even understand, is unacceptable. Watching one nanny offering not one, but two bars of chocolate to a three-year-old at the supermarket was disturbing.
I looked up the definition of a nanny, and this is what I found: "An individual who is qualified to provide care to one or more children in a family as a service. They usually are qualified and certified in first aid and child development."
A flood of questions poured through my mind as I read that. How many of our nannies fit that definition? Are they competent to teach the right behaviours? Are they trained to treat children in a way that preserves and nourishes their self-esteem?
Of course, there are many capable and loving nannies. However, having gone through countless applications and interviews of potential live-in nannies, I would say the percentage of qualified and certified ones is sadly low. And few of them have any formal training for the work. Yet they all are entrusted with caring for children, and often caring for them for very long hours.
So not only is it becoming acceptable to trust unqualified individuals to take care of children, but the extent to which they are being relied on is also increasing. How much time are our children spending with nannies? How often do we outsource playing with them or taking them out for a walk? In the gated community where I live, I see the same children out on daily walks with their nannies. I see them in the morning, afternoon and evening. And it happens every day.
There is no doubt that the lifestyle in the Gulf region can be very comfortable. So many services are inexpensive and convenient. We choose to send our laundry out to be washed and ironed more often that we would back home. We can also call up the local shop and have groceries for the week delivered right to our doorsteps. It all comes at no extra charge, so who would say no?
But it is rather frightening to find that we have extended this comfort-level test to our childcare, that has such a direct effect on our children and the way they grow up.
Live-in helpers and nannies are affordable in this region, and are easily accessible. However, there are no regulations around qualifications and experience in hiring them. Anyone and anything goes.
I hear it said that having someone to help is better than having no one. But as a person who has long worked in recruiting and hiring people, I have seen first-hand how hiring someone without the right qualifications and experience can often do more damage than good. And in this case we are talking about what parents hold most dear.
There are many challenges to parenthood. There are even more challenges when both parents are working and living in a foreign country, away from their old support networks. There is pressure to balance it all: family, work and play.
But the words on a Mother's Day card sum it all best: "Dear Mummy, I made this clay pot especially for you. It may not be perfect but I hope it reminds you that you are my potter and I am your clay. So please continue to mould me into a beautiful person every day."
I hope the right potters are moulding our children today.This article was first published in The National (www.thenational.ae)
Remi Bandali was 5 years old when she starred in her own musical movie about war torn Lebanon in the 80’s. A character in her movie was a man who went crazy because of the war. He wandered the streets of Beirut, playing with children, and mostly crying. Remi sang him this song below. As a child, I watched Remi’s movie, and I listened to all the songs about the war torn country. It opened up my eyes to all the pains the come with war and all the craziness it causes. I wanted to share Remi’s song, to sing it back a tribute to peace, a tribute to all those who are being driven crazy by war.
“You light a fire but not to hurt anyone..
You don’t speak your mind so no one gets upset..
Don’t cry…Don’t cry
I love you
As big as the sea is…I love you
As blue as the sky is…I love you
And I want you to keep drawing beautiful houses in the sand,
Beautiful houses, just like Beirut
Build me a small house, with a flag on top of it..
Let the doves fly above it
Let the flag wave…
Let us dance me and you…and let them wonder who we are..
And we’ll tell them we are just two crazy people…
but we don’t hate anyone..
We just draw houses in the sand,
Beautiful houses, just like Beirut
Come away with me…
Let’s go to different places..
Let’s fly kites, made from paper and rope
Come away with me
Let’s keep drawing houses in the sand
Beautiful houses, just like Beirut
Beautiful houses, just like Lebanon
Come away with me
How do you get over an emotion raging inside of your soul, eating away at everything you hold dear and precious? I am not even sure what this demonic emotion is. Is it anger? Is it something more crippling, even more sinister than anger? Is it hatred? How do you transcend that? And I desperately need to transcend that. My soul is trapped in this dark room, fiercely fighting this dark being. I’m wounded, I am struck down on the floor, I rise again and I fight back, but this dark being has a smile, a knowing smile and it scares me, yet adds to my determination. I want to strike anger down. I want to win this battle against hatred. Do they not symbolize everything I am not?
But perhaps fighting it won’t work. Perhaps striking it down won’t do any good. Do wars ever work? Does anyone win in the end? They only leave a trail of cadavers behind. Blood stained hands, frantic faces of children and oceans of tears is all what they leave behind. No one ever truly wins a fight, a war or a battle. So why fight anger and hatred?
Perhaps then I should embrace. Just like the waves embrace breakers. I no longer want to fight. In that dark room, I drop my sword down. All of a sudden, this dark being has no knowing smile. This dark being doesn’t know what to do with me. For it’s only used to fighters, soldiers and warriors. But I refuse to fight. I refuse to leave a trail of cadavers and a sea of tears behind. And I refuse the darkness of this room. This being can choose to leave with me to brighter rooms, or stay imprisoned in this darkest of cells. Anger and hatred choose to stay behind for they are like vampires; they can’t survive the daylight. I leave the room alone, but there is a trace of fear inside my soul. What if they chase me? What if they try to lure me back in? What if they drag me back kicking and screaming? But I know what I will do. I know very well. I will light a candle, I will shut my eyes and I will sing a song. I choose not to hate and I choose not to be angry.
Most often, we think we fight with those who do us wrong. Almost always, it’s our own daemons inside that we are truly in battle with. I will not fight neither will I surrender. I will just abolish war all together.
I have a very good friend I have known for 10 years, a well-educated Arab American working for a reputable multinational company in Dubai.
Our conversations usually touch on various topics. We start with the unbearable weather during the summer months, move on to his dog's infatuation with watching TV, and range all the way to the latest theories on quantum physics.
About once a month a regular topic pops up: the latest conspiracy theory about schemes being plotted against the Middle East. At the beginning I usually laugh off what he has to say. Then I progress to debating with him, trying to disprove the details. Often the conversation gets heated. By the end of the chat, I am usually left with nothing positive - except admiration for the creativity and wild imagination that hatches these stories.
If you have grown up in this region, you know that conspiracy theories are regular visitors to a lot of conversations. Somehow, we have managed to create a range of conspiracies to blame for every misery that strikes us.
The wildest one ever was a story that spread virally after the attacks of September 11, 2001: a message had been sent to all Jewish people working at the World Trade Center in New York, this claim asserted, warning them to avoid entering the twin towers on the day of the attack. The objective of this story was to "prove" that the attacks had been orchestrated by the US and Israel, to pave the way for waging war on countries in this region.
Another one that I found amusing emerged a couple of years back. This rumour accused Israel of contaminating drinking water with chemicals that would make Palestinian men and women infertile. With the Palestinian Territories still on the UN's top-30 list of the most fertile countries on Earth, that one did not make much sense.
A more recent one involved elaborate maps of divided regions and countries in the Middle East. These maps were said to have originated in the US administration, and "proved" that all the revolutions that had happened and still are happening across the region were ignited and master-planned by the United States. The purpose was to break Middle Eastern countries into smaller states ruled by multiple parties and factions.
Conspiracy-theory enthusiasts can usually find a trail of "evidence" to support stories such as these. This "proof" usually takes the form of scans of documents published on certain websites, pictures of messages received on mobile phones and amateur videos on YouTube. Seriously?
I am not so naive as to believe that nefarious plots don't exist. Conspiracies happen, and sometimes they are exposed. They happen in politics, at work and even in personal relationships.
But what I can't comprehend is our rush to put blame on everything and everyone except ourselves. Why do we embrace invented stories to avoid our personal responsibility for the plights of our region?
If I were to compose a list of the things that we do in this region that stand in the way of our progress, and that are of our own making, I would have a book, a sequel and perhaps a third volume.
Shall we start with our overwhelming urge to belong to a certain faction? The intensity with which we label ourselves as belonging to one group versus another? The way that despite our shared language and shared majority religion, we Arabs are still unable to mix and embrace one another? The measures that we use to undermine opposing opinions? The illiteracy rates that burden rural areas in certain countries in the Middle East? The way that we still oppress women through denying them certain civil rights? The physical, verbal and emotional abuse against these same women?
There are no conspiracies behind unpleasant facts such as these. Some of these problems are simply ingrained in our societies and our regional DNA; they are internal to us.
So perhaps before we start looking at what's coming in from abroad, we ought to take a closer look at what's happening in our own backyard. Now, can someone please share with me a conspiracy theory about that?This article was first published in The National - visit www.thenational.ae
I am attempting a novel. I haven’t really told anyone yet about that (well, now I guess it’s public). There is a reason obviously on why I didn’t shout my intention about writing a novel from the top of a mountain. I’m obviously scared. What if I never do it? What if it never gets published? What if it’s no good? But then I am told a dab of self-doubt is healthy; otherwise, you would never strive to be better. So for now, I choose to believe that.
Given my intentions above, I was elated to hear about the “How to get published” workshop that took place during the Emirates Literature Festival a few days ago. It was delivered by a notable literary agent from London with the name of Luigi Bonomi.
This was an evening workshop happening on a workday. Given that I had other meetings during the daytime on that same day, I had arranged to drop my one and a half year old baby girl at my parents place so they can babysit for the day. It’s the only way I am able to attend to some of my work with my mind at peace so I can focus and make the best out of it.
I was running late because of traffic. As soon as I arrived, I was frantically searching for the room where the workshop was being run at. I didn’t want to miss any tips. I entered a huge dark room with around a hundred people listening intently. It was extremely quite, with the exception of Luigi’s deep voice as he delivered his “getting published” tips. “I’m in the right place”, I remember thinking to myself. Everyone there looked like a writer. I am not sure if I can precisely explain what I mean by that, or what exactly gives writers away, I just knew then I was in the right room.
About ten minutes after the workshop started, and as my head was buried in my notebook jotting down almost every word that was coming out of Luigi’s mouth, I heard a baby crying. For a moment, it didn’t register. I thought my motherly instincts were acting up on me again, and I am imagining voices. But the baby cries persisted. They were soft and actually closer to moans than they were to cries, but they were there. I lifted my head up and gazed towards the direction of where these moans were coming from. There in the distance, towards my right side, was a young woman sitting towards the end of the room, holding her baby and rocking him soothingly. Despite it being dark, I could see that the baby could not have been older than six or seven months of age. I could see his mother’s face fixated at Luigi, trying as hard as she can to concentrate on what he was saying, whispering softly into her son’s ears as she sang a soft lullaby to soothe him back to sleep. Soft moans thought kept slipping away from the baby’s mouth and his mother grew conscious. She started looking around and our eyes met. I immediately looked away. I didn’t want her to think I was giving her the “telling off” looks that I often get from people who are annoyed with crying babies. She looked around, and a few people were looking her way. She stood up, retreated towards the end of the room as she still tried to soothe her baby while catching a few tips off Luigi. I was watching her again. All of a sudden, I felt that something was welling up inside of me. It was a suffocating emotion, but I couldn’t grasp what it was. A couple of minutes later, I watched her as she left the room with her baby.
The person sitting next to me brought me back to the room. He asked me if I had an extra blank paper that I can share with him. I ripped one off my notebook, and Luigi’s deep voice reminded me of the tips that I needed to note down.
As the workshop wrapped up, and people started leaving the room, I just sat there in my seat. I felt pain for this woman that came in and out of my life so quickly. She is probably a writer, an aspiring writer perhaps, just like me. She is a mother, a loving mother perhaps, just like me. All she wanted were some tips from a notable literary agent from London, just like me. Yet, she perhaps had no babysitting options on that day, unlike me. All of a sudden, the pain was overwhelming. Tears welled up inside my eyes and my throat did the thing it does when I feel sad: this weird noise and inability to swallow. All I could think about was how difficult it is for women to balance motherhood and pursuing simple passions in life.
But then, all of a sudden, I was possessed with a different energy. I sprang up from my seat and ran out of the room. “I need to find her and give her all my notes”, I said to myself. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand what I just sat there for five whole minutes before I thought of that. I looked for her everywhere. I looked for her for about fifteen minutes. I looked for her in other meeting rooms, in the bathroom, the baby changing room, at the information desk. She was gone, and I was devastated.
I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs over the last few days on the back of women’s international day. Some calling for fair treatment of women, some advocating for more civil rights for women, and others demanding equal pay for equal work.
All I want this international women’s day, is to find the women from the “How to get published” workshop so I can share with her my notes.
It seems that ever since I can remember, I have been trying real hard to find out what I want to do with my life. More specifically, to find out what my calling is. A lot of people, friends and acquaintances I have met along the way seem to be on a similar quest. What is meant to be of their existence? It seems that us humans were made that way; created to be on a constant pursuit of happiness, or some higher elevated state of fulfillment. I recall always knowing what I didn’t want to do, which usually happened to be the very same thing I was actually doing at that moment in time. Ironic, isn't it? But then I noticed that a lot of the very same people, friends and acquaintances who were seeking out answers to that question seem to also have known very well what they didn’t want to do, but rarely what their true calling was. I guess the process of elimination is a more natural approach of the mind.
As I battled through that constantly nagging question, I managed to get closer to the answer, and it happened that my calling consisted of more than one thing. Luckily, I love variety. And I still have people around me who are at the start or perhaps the midst of that same battle. With patience not being one of my virtues, I watch them go through their battle and an urge seizes me. I want to help them figure it out, today, now. Every year, every month, every day, forget it, every second that passes by is lost forever. But that is just my intense nature, I remind myself. Nothing is lost forever. It’s all about the journey, not the destination, right? Now forgive me but I love arriving. Constant travel wears me out, and I am a domesticated animal, I love being home.
I have always had many passions. Some more creative than others, some more free- flowing than others but they somehow all sat well together. Writing is one of them. I however would have not dared to say until recently that it was indeed my calling in life. How could I be so sure? What if I find something else that takes over my existence? Why commit now? What if doesn’t work?
But then I managed to finally know with my mind and heart that it is indeed my calling in life. See, writing scares me. At least that’s one of the things it does to me. I know I need to write something down as soon as I start getting that heavy feeling in my chest, an urgent need to lift a weight off it. Before I start typing off frantically and purposefully on my keyboard, to put down these words that are cramming my brain and flowing from God knows where, I approach my laptop with a bit of fear, and a dash of excitement. A fear of robbing words of their true meaning and impact, or perhaps disappointing them for I could not take them to where they can reach. A dash of excitement that accompanies the unknown, for I never know where words will take me or what form of life the story ends up taking. It’s a very similar state to that of being newly in love. That person that you really like a lot, that you don’t want to disappoint, the traces of fear and excitement that fill your heart before the next date and all the rush and adrenalin that comes with it. And then you meet that someone that stirs up all that in you and a bit more, and you just know in your mind and in your heart that you have arrived home.
So there is the process of elimination, and you can definitely analyze, and analyze some more, perhaps do a quick SWOT analysis of the different passions you have and then figure out your calling in life. But I truly believe that like love, this is a matter of the heart. Perhaps it’s just about finding that thing that truly scares you, yet manages to light up your heart with excitement at the same time. There are only very few things in life that can do that to anyone, and they are usually worth going through the journey for, and finally arriving at them.