August 2007

Yesterday I took my first pottery class, and for a little over an hour I got to play with beautiful red mud. It is such a calming relaxing experience. Toying with the clay, plying it, transforming it from a clump of wet dirt and giving it shape gave me such a feeling of calm. There are at least three factors at play here: the dirt, the creativity, and the concentration. 

The earth is one of the elements around us. It is the ground and thus grounding. Playing with it, having pieces in your hands, your pores absorbing its various qualities and minerals as you work. Rejuvenating what is essentially ours. Dispelling all excess energy, especially the negative can only be healing. 

The joy of creating something from nothing but a clump of mud, seeing it take shape and form. The process of deciding your next move and taking it. Stepping back and seeing your vision come alive. How can that sense of accomplishment not give you a surge of good energy? To create something tangible and physical that is your creation, that is a manifestation of your imagination and choice, is uplifting.

When the mud I played with had to be formed, the racing thoughts in my head ceased to exist. In their stead came focus. I was focused on the object in front of me. Making it resemble the image I have in my head. While turning my handiwork into a piece of pottery, I was so engrossed in the details of the work, I barely noticed the time flying by, let alone all my worries and stresses. 

Looking at my first piece, it isn’t perfect, it isn’t anything special. But to me, it is my first piece, it is very special. It is my work, a labor of love and joy. It is perfect. I loved the learning process. I loved the mud. I loved the absorption. Getting my hands dirty was blissful.

I wander around aimlessly, as is my habit, wondering about you.
I wander around curiously, as is my habit, wondering if you too.
I wander around purposely, as is my habit, searching for you.

I think will we meet?
I think will fate allow it?
I think will we plan it?

We talk not.
We walk not.
We play not. 

Our paths do not cross, not even by chance.
Our lives a coincidence that will not be.
Because every coincidence can only be…
a well planned step by you and by me. 

Last night, I had an unexpected encounter with a man, a very unpleasant encounter. It was all too brief, and perhaps that was the best thing about it. So you’re probably thinking “what happened?” Let me tell you the story.

I had just left a reputable establishment in Abdoun with a friend. We decided to walk up to the circle to get some fresh air and falafel sandwiches. The walk is a short 10 minute one, nothing special I thought. Little did I know. Halfway through and on a deserted patch of road, as I was quietly talking to my friend, I felt a tug at my shoulder. My handbag, slung over my shoulder was yanked off by the hand of a young man. As he grabbed the bag, he ran away into the darkness to the right of the road. What he didn’t expect was my habit of holding on to my bag straps as I walked, and so with my bag came me!

I held on as he ran, and as I was holding tightly the thoughts in my head raced in two opposite directions: let go, and hold on. I was holding in because I really didn’t want to get robbed, it would be a great nuisance. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with the police, the government, or the bank among others. I wanted to let go because my personal safety comes first and there is nothing irreplaceable in the bag.

As these conflicting thoughts were going through my strong grip prevailed as did my screaming voice. The man let go and ran into the abyss. I know that had he not let go when he did I would have. Nothing is worth being dragged in the dirt. I am glad though that he didn’t know that ;). I dusted myself off and got up. Intact, safe and with all my possessions where they should be, I stood up and started walking again. I was calm, and collected. I felt my friend was more shook up by the whole event than I was.

I don’t feel scared, angry, or upset. I am no more paranoid about walking in Amman than I was before. The only visible imprint left from the whole ordeal is a scrap on my left shin. The memory I believe will become a laughable anecdote in the future. Until then, walk cautiously, look behind you regularly, and when necessary LET GO!

Every book is a journey; it takes you places and introduces you to people and ideas. This book I am reading is such an amazingly written and beautifully constructed work that I can’t help but want to share its pages with everyone. Mosteghanemi. Here are two extracts one about lovers’ first encounter and the other is about the questions we ask.

“I love the stories behind romantic encounters. In every encounter between a man and a woman, there is a miracle, something beyond them that brings them together at the same time and place to step into the path of the same tornado. That’s why lovers always remain dazed by the impact of their first encounter, even after they have split up. It’s a kind of ecstasy that can’t be recaptured, because it’s the only pure thing that is preserved from the destruction love leaves in its wake. ”

And this other extract is about questions as I mentioned earlier. I always look for intriguing answers from people for the simplest questions but never really find them. We are always stuck in our traditional definition of who we are through our work, our family that we don’t explore our selves. Here Mosteghanemi presents the other side of that … the questions: 

“People? They usually only ask stupid questions, forcing you to reply with equally stupid answers. For instance, they ask you what you do, not what would you have liked to do. They ask you what you own, not what you have lost. They ask you about the woman you married, not about the one you love. About your name, but not if it suits you. They ask your age, but not how well you’ve lived those years. They ask about the city you live in, but not the city that lives in us. And they ask if you pray, not if you fear God.

So I’ve gotten used to answering these questions with silence. You know, when we shut up, we force others to reconsider their mistakes.“

I love this book I’m enjoying every page it is challenging and relevant with every turn. It sheds a different light on everyday things and it makes you realize the chaos that bombards our senses in love and life.

I recently went fishing as many of you know. My trip was one that took me to the sea of life. There I let me net out trying to find anything, something, but it came back empty so many times. I kept navigating the seas only to realize I was heading into a storm. The fish I wanted to catch, desperately needed to catch, were all swimming the other way.


I tried to avoid the storm, and ride the waves away but it was futile. I got caught in its midst. I was tossed left and right. I felt my boat sinking and I was sinking with it. I had no anchor, no sail, no life boat. My net only came back with bottom feeders, sharks, and other sea monsters waiting for the kill.


In my deepest despair, I closed my eyes. I looked within. Inside me I found my calm waters. Inside, I found my sun. Inside, the monsters can’t hunt me. Inside, the storm is no longer.


I opened my eyes and with their opening came the light. Slowly, it seeped through the storm clouds. The waves were gradually getting smaller, the seas less choppy. The predators knew they would get no prey. I won’t let a storm defeat me. I am my anchor, I am my sail, I am my life boat. I am floating on the sea of life.


I am lost at sea with no direction. I am lost for I have no compass. But I do have my light from within. I cast my net once again. I have caught nothing worth keeping, because everything I need is within.

As I was reading Chaos of the Senses by Ahlam Mosteghanemi I came across these paragraphs that struck an interesting cord. I hope you enjoy the extract and I’ll elt you know how the rest of the book goes. 


“It had taken her some time to realize that they had completed the cycle of love. Because of a tiny nothing of which she was still unaware, they had entered the last chapter of  a novel that had undoubtedly reached its conclusion. 


When passion fades, we always lose something of ourselves, and we refuse to velieve that has happened. For this reason, breaking up is an art that eases the pain of loss- an art he clearly intended to avoid partaking of. 


She now remembers the day she told him, “I want a sweet farewell.”


“Is there such a thing as a sweet farewell?” he had replied with the veiled irony. Sometimes he seemed like a monarch playing with the guillotine of language. He was a man taken by absolute words and decisive situations, while she was a woman sitting on the swing of possibility. How could there be a language wide or deep enough for both of them?


“How are you?” was all he asked. Before that day, she had never expected that a question

like that could throw her into such turmoil. With that, she discovered how awful some questions could be in their simplicity, those mindless questions we answer every day, without thinking, to strangers who really don’t care in the end. Neither do we care if they believe the answer, hypocrisy no less great that the question itself. 


But with other, how smart do we need to be to conceal our pain behind language?


Some questions are only asked so the asker can gloat over someone’s grief. Their punctuation marks are laughter at our impotence, even when delivered in a warm voice that belonged to a once beloved person. 


“How are you?” – a deceptive inquiry that hides another question. In such cases, we shouldn’t miss the grammatical trap: the subject here is not what we expect, for there is a hidden pronoun of challenge. The real question is “How are you without me?”


As for the predicate, well, all schools of love arrive at a common consensus. It is far easier for us to accept the death of someone we love than to cope with the idea of losing him and discovering that he is able to carry on with his life, in all its intricacies, despite our absence.


There is a kind of equality through loss from death, in which we find consolation. 


She was weighing her answer when she realized that the conversation had suddenly turned into a silent war of passion, fought with painstakingly selected linguistic weapons.


The square table separating them soon became a chess table constructed of landmines of silence, where each player chose his color and position, placing before him his army, knights, and rooks to prepare for battle. 


She answered him, going for the element of surprise: “Fine, thank God.”


The same religions that encourage us to be honest offer loose expressions that carry more than one meaning. Isn’t language an instrument of doubt?”


Very thought provoking wouldn’t you say… This was in the beginning of the book and I must say as it unfolds it gets more and more intriguing.

You are born alone, you die alone, its an age old adage. But throughout our lives we meet people, we form bonds, we have relationships. People have come and gone throughout my life, but recently I must say that even though I am alone, I feel loved. No, I feel very loved.

Everyday, I see people, I talk to them and interact with them, virtually even, but their love comes through. I feel very lucky. The number of people that show me, tell me, and prove to me that they love me is ever growing. It is a lovely feeling to be able to tell someone you love them and know that they too love you. To know that there is nothing behind those words except affection, care and support. To be able to say to them those three words, and mean them. It is unadulterated, it is good, it is warming.   

I think its important to tell people you love them. We get bogged down with so many things in life; we get distracted that we forget to let them know. I also think we should say it when we can and as often as possible. This doesn’t diminish its sincerity, but rather reaffirms it. Whatever you put out there you get back, so why not let it be love? Say it with your good morning messages, say it with your hugs, say it at the end of your phone calls. Say it with your hellos and goodbyes. Don’t be afraid of those words. They don’t hurt, they heal.

To my loved ones, with warm hugs and kisses, I say I love you, I appreciate you, and I love having you in my life. Thank you for being a part of it, thank you for the care, support, energy, and love that you give to me everyday and for that I feel very blessed. I say it again and again. I LOVE YOU.

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