I look around and I see a rise of distracting objects, tasteless topics and videos of people bothering people on the rise. High views of a video of someone playing the flute with his nose, a game about breaking bricks with the same colors, placed on the palms of neatly dressed zombies who only come back to being humans when an ad appears and they need to wait 5 seconds to skip it, the same way they skip the news about displaced children, the same way they skip the skinny child with his ribs showing, swinging between life and death in his hunger delusion, the same way they change the channel when they see a women marching for their rights, they flip the channel to whatever prank show is on when they see a school shooting. They stay inside in the comfort of their air conditioning, away from the rising heat, denying the climate change that will destroy our earth…. no…. earth won’t be destroyed, Earth have been here for 4.6 billion years, it has survived much worse, this is about our survival. But no… they don’t want to know. If they deny it, it won’t happen. Sure our kids won’t suffer… kids starving in the news? Where? I don’t see it… if I do it must be in one place only, some African countries, it will be solved… what do you mean Yemen and Syria too, they also have starvation? Well… I’m sure it won’t spread further than that… just think about the moment you finish your work so you can enjoy your crazy cakes or whatever game you think is more important than our world… well… it’s not your word anymore, because you abandoned it and created your own world. I however love this world, I love everything about it, and fortunately for you, you are a part of this world, and I hope you can wake up, I hope somehow my Post will break through the colored bricks and, hopefully, when you wake up, you don’t skip me like an ad. I’m not selling what you already have, you have this world, and if you don’t start to listen and act, then the world will skip you, and shuts us all down.
She is Chinese, I am Iraqi, and we came up with the perfect couple name. “The Chiraqi Couple”.
I remember the day we met. It was during my stay in China. I was in a cafe, writing notes for my next book, when suddenly, I heard her a girl sing, in Arabic. I know! A Chinese girl in a city where most of its people don’t even speak English. But there she was, singing a song in Arabic. I turned to see who it was. I saw her sitting near the window, the light gave her some halo that made her look so divine. She was working on her laptop while she is singing. But that’s not it… that song, that particular song, I used to listen to it everyday on the radio when my dad takes me to school. I was pushed back in time where things were simpler. While she sang, I was transformed to my dad’s Volkswagen, on my way to school where I played with the school band every morning the national anthem. And on my way, my dad would put classic songs on the radio.
I said hi, in Chinese, and she was as shocked as I when I heard her sing in Arabic; they don’t get that much foreigners who speak Chinese. I asked her if she speaks Arabic. She just knows a little, just from what she heard from the songs that she listens to. She told me that she loves middle eastern culture. That made me smile, because even though our culture is full of art and beautiful stories, and gave life to civilizations, many only know what the media shows, hatred, religious racism, death, terrorism. They do not show that we are hurt by that more than anyone in the world, but most importantly, they do not show the normal, kind people, let alone artistic ones. So you can see why Rita, my wife now, became an interesting person from the moment we met. And on our first date, at an Indian restaurant that I didn’t know about, but she did, we shook hands for the first time, and we electrocuted each other. We laughed about it, but we both took a mental note… “It’s a sign”. Then, one night, on a camping trip, under the stars and god’s eyes, I asked her to marry me.
Celebrations? Big wedding, dove flying? No… far from it… but that’s a story for another time. 🙂
Click here to hear the song that sealed our fate
Can you go crazy from having so many ideas, or does it open your eyes?
This is the question that resonated in my head during my morning walk while I rolled the ball with my feet; a practice I use to increase my concentration, which was not as it used to be because even when I walk with a football rolling between my legs I notice the shadows on the ground in the periphery of my vision, and my hyper imaginative mind couldn’t help but imagine an assassin’s shadow about to jump on me, and how I might roll on the ground like the ball between my legs to avoid death. And after a while of me living in the imaginary world I conjured with my mind, where I was initiating a new member in my organization by testing him, I came back to my world by the sounds of Car horns in the distance. I looked around, realizing I was operating on autopilot while my imagination was sustaining the world I created. I looked at the trees, the bricks, and the people around me, and they all felt strange to me, as if the world around me was not the one I knew my whole life. Why am I seeing colors that I don’t recognize? Why, at that moment, do I hear birds like I never heard their melodies before? As the, now strange wind, brushed through my hair and stimulate my neurons, a revelation came to me. The way we see the world, as proven, is through illusion. There is no orange color, it’s our eyes that see it this way because that’s how our brain translate them, the same way the world is translated to a bat or to a spider. All creatures see the world differently, we don’t know what the world actually looks like. Maybe there is no world and we just imagining it and you and me are assuming that we imagine the same thing and hear the same color when we describe a shirt.
My isolation from life through my imaginary adventure made the world look different to me when I came back to it. I felt as if I came to a realization at that moment, and I hope that one day I can see the world as it is, in its true form, its true sounds and its true taste. I pray that I can receive the right brain that reveals the reality of my illusion.
A fantastical fear of everything
In a previous post I talked about how I had a very strong chest pain where I was sent to the hospital and had a panic attack on my way there. My hands got stiff at the hospital door and they wheeled me in. I went there twice after that, but to no avail. They kept saying the same thing. “There is nothing physically wrong with you. It must be psychological” I didn’t know what to say, but I believed them eventually… for a while. I stayed in bed, I wasn’t able to move a lot, I couldn’t sit upright for a long time. There was something wrong with me… I know it. I mean yes, I have problems, who doesn’t? My dental career was at halt, I didn’t have money at the time, and my fiancé is still far from being here with me because of the first two issues. But why would I feel like that? Why would I have this strong chest pain that I can’t control.
One day, I had this chest pain a day after they told me I have nothing for the second time, and at that moment, my parents were arguing about some money issues with my relatives, and as I was starting to have a panic attack, they kept talking about their problems while I was in sever pain on the floor. That’s when I felt the injustice of the whole world on me. I was left with two choices, either keep breathing, or Cry…. I chose the latter. I chose to cry instead of breathing…. and that’s when I started to feel the pain go away. The less I breathed the better I felt. My parents who I stayed with them to recover calmed me down. But I knew deep down that this is something only I can deal with. A month later, I got the call, I had a job offer. I started working, finally! But my chest pain is still there. I couldn’t tell them I have chest problems when I finally and after 7 months of paper works, interviews and exams tell them I need more time. I pushed myself. When I felt chest pain I just massaged my chest area. But that only lasted for a while because one of my co-workers notice it and he pointed it out. So I just said no I’m fine. He had a loud voice, he attracted everyone with his questions and they all looked at me with concerned eyes. That’s when the panic started again. I felt my chest becoming tighter. I told them I haven’t been sleeping lately and that I’m exhausted. That’s why I need to excuse myself. I had my brother come to pick me up and I left my car there. I hardly slept that night, and when I woke up, I was still in pain. Two months have passed and I’m still in pain. Something was wrong with me… I know it. So I finally called my brother. But this time he took me to someone he knows, a doctor Richard from Lebanon. He asked me a couple of questions, and that’s when all things were revealed to me.
Two questions from his questioner rang in my head. Do I have suicidal thoughts? Do I take pleasure in doing things I used to like doing?
The first question was hard at first, because even though I have those thoughts sometimes, I dismiss them, but it made me think that lately I was very afraid of death. Not afraid of dying, but afraid from the injustice of it, because my life had just started to be better, and now I have this thing in my chest and I was afraid that it was killing me. This fear made me obsessed and I imagined dying in many ways that I hesitate before I climb the stairs.
The second question was about my interests. I was… less reactive to the things I loved doing than I used to be. I told myself it’s because I was busy trying to find a job. I gave myself excuses but in fact, I was sad. I wanted to write like I used to write, with enthusiasm and love. But whenever I thought about myself being an Iraqi guy who lives in Kuwait I start thinking that this writing path is useless, that my voice will not be heard. So why I do a lot of research for my books, why I read Identity theory, books about Mesopotamia, philosophy books and many other books and articles as research for my books to eventually be forgotten after I finally finish them. I was writing on sand and the tide kept wiping my words.
When doctor Richard finished his examination, he revealed the questioner result. The five words he told me had set me free. “You have moderately sever depression”. A couple of seconds of silence passed before I wanted to reply in denial, but I just cried instead. “It’s ok” Dr. Richard said “Let it out”.
I was tired, that was it, just tired of working for so long to accomplish so little.
I left, started my medication and became better, my mind became clearer and I started to realize that I in fact accomplished a lot. I remember a friend of mine telling me that his sister’s first book to ever read was my book Psychs, and because of that she started reading a lot of books. The fact that I made this young woman think that reading is an interesting activity is a great accomplishment, and if I didn’t get to change more people, then I’m fine with that. If I could change the life of one person to be better, then that’s enough for me. You don’t have to be a messiah, just be a person of good values.
When I was a kid, there was a repeated question my father used to ask and it came to my mind today. When I was 10 years old I took piano lessons, a hobby my father supported, but at the same time I was having Taekwondo Classes, an activity my dad really disapproved of, though he gave me the freedom to pursue it. He always repeatedly say :”You are an artist, you should be a sensitive guy, why are you doing Taekwondo?”. That question, in its essence, describes me, and the reason why I am thinking about it is because of my works.
To be honest, I was the one surprised from how my father thought about it. Even though I was a kid, I found it strange that many people are surprised when someone has an interest in things that might appear to be dissimilar, and now as a 33 year old grownup-ish kid, I realize that my way of thinking is a base for the ideas that I created throughout and in the coming years. Examples that might shed some light on my obscured topic is the contrast that can be palpate between my first two books; Psychs is a thriller with ghosts… yes, as weird as it might sound, that story has all the characteristics of an action thriller with some scary elements that ended to be a fine blend. So when my next book, Kima, came out some readers expected to taste the same dish. Instead, the folklore story That both appealed to kids and adults tasted sweeter. Another example is the independent movie which I wrote and directed, Callous. Callous is a horror story, and when you hear what podcasters say about it, you would be surprised when you learned about my next work, The Last Mile.
So how can I explain that split personality in my writing? Let me try.
I think it could be traced back to my upbringing. I am by, nationality, Iraqi, but I was not born in Iraq, no, I was born in Kuwait. Now I know what you are thinking; “So you have a Kuwaiti Passport and a couple of oil fields?”. Well, the passport point would be true if I was born in Europe or the Americans or perhaps any place in the world. I couldn’t get a Kuwaiti Passport, so I was born as an expatriate and that’s how I lived my entire life. I traveled and experienced different lives and cultures, made friends from all over the world. Experienced happiness, sadness and melancholy, most probably the latter made me a writer. So that heterogenous combination split my story genres and made them more diverse. I write when I feel excited about an idea that I have, no matter what genre they are in, and I don’t like to stay committed to one genre. Also, every story I write is a combination of genres where I like to play with different emotions, because that’s life, and I like to make my reader relate to anything to their lives, in hopes that it might add something important to theirs’.
It took me a while to send my greatest wishes for the women of the world because I celebrated women’s day with my world, my mother. Women have come a long way, and they were able to do so through inspiring perseverance which was highly infectious. So much so that eventually men couldn’t be immune to their success and be inspired by them. And that is what I would like to talk about today, about the woman who inspired my new book.
You hear about women from all over the world from different countries who have managed to rise and find their purpose in the world, but My muse was someone who did not belong to any country, a displaced person with no nationality, flavored by the cultures she was exposed to throughout her life. A great recipe for an artist. Except she is much more than that.
Oh how rude of me… Here I am listing characteristics for someone I admire and I haven’t even introduce her to you all. Well allow me to break the ice.
Introducing Enas. We met during my studies in Egypt. The first thing that made me take an interest in her story is when I tried to find out where she was from. It even made me think, “What makes you belong to a place?”. She was born in Iraq to a Palestinian family, and her first childhood memories were in Hungary, but she never had a passport from neither nations, just a travel document, which at the time was more than enough. But life throws curve balls every once in a while. For Enas, that curve ball was the Iraq war. She found herself with no country. So how was she able, in spite of all that, to become a dentist, a triathlete, and an inspiring artist living in the United States? Her story touched me in many ways, and I’m very honored to have her blessing to write her story.
The Last Mile is the title of our next book and I wrote it to celebrate a woman among the blossoming women who managed to lift our spirits and to remind us to never stop thriving for what we believe.
Join me next where I will be asking Dr. Enas some questions. Do you have anything you’d like to ask Enas or me? Please don’t hesitate to ask.