Do you ever question your profession or how you make your living? I do it too often these days and it bothers me. I am struggling with this for a number of reasons. I do not want my distaste for the corporate life to be misconstrued for laziness or an unwillingness to put in the hours. God only knows how much I have sacrificed to get to where I am today. Perhaps it is the exhausting self-competitiveness I possess or the constant self-indulgent need to achieve that has created this bad after-taste. In otherwords, burnout, yes, but also a longing for self-actualization, if I am to use Maslow’s theoretical term. Man! There are a lot of “self’s” in this paragraph – probably a testament to how desperate I am to connect more deeply with who I am and to what I am truly meant to be doing.
This inner questioning is also bothering me because I am of the mindset that you always have a choice, and that you can either choose to change something, or choose to accept it. I apply this principle to all aspects of my life, so why am I finding it particularly difficult in this context? There is no personal fulfillment in the work I do. When I go home every day, I have no great feelings of pride or accomplishment. The success of completing and delivering presentations or launching products has lost its allure, and quite frankly, is shallow and meaningless in the grander scheme of life. These emotions I am experiencing are dormant and lurk beneath the surface of my skin. They emerge when provoked or awakened as was the case last night and as is the case too often these days.
I watched Freedom Writers yesterday and I was deeply moved. Such true stories are a humbling reminder of the world outside our cushy lifestyles. They depict the harsh reality that is life to so many people. They also shed light on those few rare fighters whose plight is to propel change and make a difference. I have always had this feeling in my gut that my calling in life is to help others. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing someone change or grow because of the influence you have had on them. I wish to be part of such change. To bring meaning to peoples lives. To touch people… I wont be remembered for being promoted into corporate management quickly or for the late hours I have put in. What I am saying may sound somewhat cliched. I assure you I am neither having a mid-life crisis nor am I experiencing a momentary hunger for humanitarian activity because of last night’s movie. These feelings are real and they have been inside me for long. I dream of starting a charity for the forgotten children of Palestine. To educate them, to support them, to give them hope. To tell them that life exists outside the hell hole of refugee camps and hunger and fighting and poverty that is all they have ever known…
Is this a leap of faith I should take? Have any of you left the corporate life to pursue something of your own? What do you want to be remembered for?
I’ve been thinking about “Eat Pray Love” a lot lately. I have the tendency to get a tad bit obsessive when I am drawn to something and this book has been at the top of that obsession list although it’s probably been a year since I read it. For those who are unfamiliar with the book, I found it to be a treasure trove of insights and amazing words that you want to remember and quote – so much so that I have dog-eared a good chunk of the pages in it. What has gotten me thinking is the scene set in Rome when they refer to each city or person as having a word. In the movie, Julia Roberts eventually discovers that her word is “Attraversiamo” – Italian for “let’s cross over”. A woman who left everything behind to travel the world for a year in search of herself. She found not only herself but friendship, love and balance. Sometimes you need to take a crazy leap of faith and to go down the more difficult road to find the best things in life.
Perhaps the biggest learning for me was that our perception of balance is often skewed as she learns is the case for her towards the end of the story. My favorite quote in the whole book is that “to lose balance for love sometimes is part of leading a balanced life”. And what greater imbalance is there than to welcome the gushing emotions of love into your life, whatever crazy imbalances they may cause.
Do you know what your word is?
(For those who havent yet read the book or seen the movie, choose the book. It is rich in words and emotions and is incredibly contagious.)
It is not very often that a book touches me and so I felt compelled to share this with you. I finished the book this morning sitting poolside in ridiculously hot temperatures and it is still top of mind. This is usually a positive sign as it is rare that I reflect over a book I have finished for long. Perhaps I am somewhat biased being a Palestinian girl with no country to call my own, still I am a huge fan of foreign films in general (although I’m not sure this classifies as such for me, given its in my native mother tongue!) nonetheless, it has been shown at several film festivals including the 2010 Venice Film Festival and the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and has garnered a lot of acclaim from movie critics the world over. I saw the premiere of the movie at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last October and was very lucky to meet both Rula Jebreal (the author) as well as Frieda Pinto (who plays Miral in the movie) before reading the book.
Miral is a compelling and incredibly touching true-story set in Jerusalem in the days of the Intifada. The backdrop of the story alone is so beautifully captured it managed to successfully transport me back there to relive the beautiful white stone houses, the hustle and bustle of The Old City and the beautiful Mount of Olives. How stunning my Jerusalem is. The book begins with Miral’s mother Nadia as a young girl who we learn was sexually abused as a child and fled home at a very young age throwing herself into dangerous and ethically questionable professions to make a living. Miral loses her mother at a very young age and is sent by her father to Dar El Tifl, an orphanage started and run by the legendary Hind Al-Husseini whose plight to serve the women of her country began as a gesture of kindness – after the first Israeli-Arab war of 1948 – and lasted her whole life as she urged the girls she took in to choose education over conflict. As Miral witnesses the effects of the Israeli campaigns against the intifada, she draws closer to the political fringes, finally choosing to join the struggle in full and falling for the man who helped her become more actively involved. She exposes the truths about living through war, the hard-to-accept realities of the refugee camps where time is forgotten and alot of passion for a cause that is dear to many peoples hearts.
There are few novels that showcase such a personal conflict in such depth and complexity. She is a brave story-teller and gives an honest portrayal of the daily difficulties and loss of innocence of growing up in a hostile environment that continues to break the Palestinians down every day.
May we one day have the right to return to our Holy Land so that our children can experience what we never had a chance to. A country. An anthem. The familiarity of a place. The sense of belonging. (Ya rab)…