Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thank you

Thank you for making me your sweetie, before I even knew what a sweetie was.
Thank you for having been my backbone, my confident and my friend.
Thank you for the long phone discussions that made me discover and think.
Thank you for showing me how a gentleman behaves and what being noble is about.
Thank you for having fought for me, when I did not even deserve it.
Thank you for the cool and the birth of the cool.
Thank you for Leonard Cohen, for Phish, for Blue Note, for Black Rose, for Desperate Housewives.
Thank you for making me love me.

Just like my mother gave birth to the baby me some 32 years ago, u gave birth to the adult me 16 years ago. And for that, on each birthday that passes by, I will be thankful.

Dance me till the end of love, Leonard Cohen

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Of Life, Drama and Happiness

A thought, an idea, a concept, has been laying at the back of my mind for some time now: happiness. What is happiness? What drives happiness? What is the state of mind called happiness? I could have dived into the wealth of literature on the subject. I could have brainstormed with well rounded intellectuals. Yet I did not feel like dwelling on philosophical concepts about the human condition, but more thinking about what makes people around me happy. Simply. Simplistically even.

I came up with three possibilities that can explain the state of mind of a person when he/she says “I am happy”:

  1. Happiness can be the compliance with a pre-defined image of our lives that we‘ve built since childhood. It can be that a child develops the idea that happiness is having a husband, kids and home she calls her own. Happiness for her would be achieving that dream.
  2. Happiness can also be the state of no-unhappiness. So for example, unhappiness for a person is being alone, having a money problem, being divorced, or any number of other unfortunate events. Whenever any of these unfortunate events does not occur, a person can call herself happy. This option is most commonly mentioned by wiser adults: “you have everything, you are healthy, have a loving family, a job, of course you are happy”
  3. Happiness can be the achievement of loved one’s happiness. The person forgets her own philosophical considerations about “happiness” and her sole aim is the achievement of one goal: make a loved one happy. I have noticed that parents are too busy providing for their kids’ needs and “happiness”, and the accomplishment of that purpose is just enough for them to assert that they are happy. I am sure kids provide a conceptual continuity to us human beings. In that sense, I am almost sure that readers who have children or dependants do not relate to this post. This option goes hand in hand with Voltaire’s “cultiver son jardin” idea that struck me at school. In a sense, thinking about life’s purpose and goals is an ingredient to unhappiness. Getting busy providing for loved one’s life can drive to happiness.

Each of the above options can be applied to one or many of our acquaintances. Yet, more often than not, we notice exceptions. Persons that were actually able to achieve the image they drew for themselves since childhood are not happy. People, who have it all, are not happy. Parents who have a well cared for family, are unhappy. And conversely, some people who do not fall into any of the above categories radiate happiness.

So what is wrong with the sea of life? Is each and every person swimming in a different direction? Nothing is wrong, really. Except that, whatever the direction in which you swim, this sea has an end: death. From that observation on, there is one step to acknowledging that Life IS a Drama: The fact that a loved one dies. That we are broken hearted. That we miss someone insanely. That we are waiting for someone irrationally and against all odds. That there is unfairness. That an innocent is accused. That a child is lonely. That a little kid is abused. That a good kid is suffering from a disease. That it’s too late for something precious. That we regret. That we mourn. That we hurt someone we love. That we are deceived. That we are rejected. That we have a mental illness. That we know we are going to die but don’t want to …yet. All the pain that comes with being alive can’t but make life itself a drama, a tragedy.

In that context, with that observation in my mind, happiness can’t be but a choice. Yes, against all odds, against suffering, hurting, mourning, a person can make the choice to be happy. Happiness cannot be a state of mind that is undergone passively. It is a proactive, conscious choice. It’s a perspective on things that do not accept putting one’s self down. I choose to be happy, therefore I am happy.

And why isn’t everyone happy then, you might ask. Because some people are not convinced that they deserve to be happy; Because for some others, being happy means that they are moving on from a drama they are not ready to let go of. But that is another story…

A twitt on Twitter

International press has been "twitting" about the social networking website, Twitter. Below is a fun video about this phenomenon. I’m quite impressed the hype hasn’t reached Lebanon yet. I guess we Lebanese are quite loyal to our exhibitionistic-voyeuristic-gossipistic outlet (a.k.a Facebook). Makes me wonder: Is the human's exhibitionist tendencies at the forefront of the success of these websites? or is communication drastically changing?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

صلاة عمان

هذه الصلاة سكنت قلبي منذ العام ٢٠٠٥ حيث سائق أجرة في الأردن أملاها علي. كنت أرددها معه كل صباح وأنا استكشف شوارع عمان. عمان الهادئة، عمان النائمة ولكن عمان المليئة بالمشاعر والامال والتمني ... والصلاة

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

الرَّحْمـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

مَـالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ

اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ

صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّينَ


Friday, March 20, 2009

Abusive Relationships

Lately, the story/saga of Chris Brown and Rihana abounded the People press: a glamorous couple, a fight whereby Chris hit Rihana, a police report, a picture of injured Rihana leaked to the press, a highly publicized break-up, and an even more publicized reconciliation. This story has fueled a lot gossip but also a wave of awareness campaigns on abusive relationships: What are the warning signs of abusive relationships, how to help the victim, etc. Abuse is not only physical; it also can be emotional or verbal. It is apparently known that abuse typically starts during teenage years. Emotional abuse is malicious and teens who become involved in abusive relationships may be entering a cycle of violence that can continue into adulthood. What teens learn about respect and how to treat/be treated by others will affect the choices they make in future relationships.

I know that the human psyche is quite complicated; that such situations are hard to analyze, but I can’t help but wonder what keeps a person - that apparently has it all - going back to an abusive partner? Some would say that the victim has “no personality”, “is weak”. But beyond any judgmental opinion, what can drive a woman to return to an abusive relationship?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Closed Zone

The animator of the Israeli movie "Waltz with Bashir", made a short movie, "Closed Zone", about the life in besieged Gaza. Powerful.
While I approve of the work of those Israeli anti-war militants, I cant help but wonder why, we, Arabs dont produce such equally effective communication channels.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The West Bank Archipelago

While reading a blog of le, I came accross the below map. It is a map published by the Atlas 2009 of Le Monde Diplomatique, that depicts the reality of life in the West Bank: cities and villages, seperated by the "Wall", by Israeli colonies, by army check-points. A West Bank that looks more like an archipelago of isolated islands rather than a land where people can decently live.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Childhood Memories from the 80s*

* Courtesy of G

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Salwa Katrib - Khidni Ma3ak

خدني معك على درب بعيدي
مطرح ما كنا ولاد صغار
وغفي ربيعي بشمس جديدي
نسيني يوم ال صرنا كبار

خدني معك يا حبيبي يا حبيبي
مطرح ما لون الازرق غاب
نمشي سوا يا حبيبي يا حبيبي
على ارض الرمل الي فيها عتاب
بعز الهوا خبيني خبيني
وتركني ضيع بقلبو نهار
ئول للهوا يا هوا ينسيني ينسيني اليوم ال صرنا كبار

خدني معك....

قول للهوا يودينا يودينا
فوق جبال ال مالها حدود
بكرة الزمن رح يمحي اسامينا

On men, women and body image

A boy and a girl (or a boy and boy, or a girl and girl for that matter) like each other, they get together. And then you hear about the great effect they had on each other: “oh, have you seen how positive she is now?”, “yi, she gave him a sense of stability”.

I often hear about a girl that stopped smoking or a guy that resumed studying, thanks to the aura of their significant others.

How does that happen really? Does he tell her: “I want you to stop smoking”, does she tell him “I want you to start studying”… and they execute swiftly?

All this “nurturing each other”, and “getting the best out of each other” concept is praised by all....until he asks her to lose weight. In the same line as “I want you to stop smoking because it’s bad for your health”, he asks her to lose weight because “you would look much better without those 5 kilos” and “you’d feel much better about yourself if you toned your thighs”. And then he starts monitoring her food intake. Staring weirdly at her when she gets desert, getting upset if she doesn’t go to the gym. She obviously reacts. It’s her body, her health. “oh well”, he replies, “ your body also concerns me”. And then he throws in the killer argument “watching you eat is like watching my sick father smoke”. Hmm, hmm.

Even if a man is not satisfied with his woman’s body, how legitimate or acceptable is it to let her know about it? Isn’t it common knowledge that women dread remarks about their weight? And if he doesn’t speak up his mind, wouldn’t he be hiding things from her? In couples, can we share everything? When it comes to relationship management, where do boundaries stand?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Homage to Salwa Katrib

This is an homage to Salwa Katrib, Lebanese singer and TV icon, who passed away yesterday. The video is an excerpt from her play "Ben el Jabal", a remake of "My Fair Lady".