Wind of change, blow my way
I have learnt that you make your own destiny. If you fail to rise to the occasion, to take a risk, to dare to dream, then you will become a rock, worn away by the elements, degrading with time. If you do not dare to change, if you do not allow yourself to be swept away sometimes, to feel the wind of change blowing through your hair, then you will never appreciate the opportunities available to you.
Sometimes, change occurs before you notice it. Sometimes, it is inevitable. Sometimes, you actively seek it. And sometimes, you wish it had never happened.
The challenge is in realising that if you embrace it, it can lead you down a path full of promises, but which is clouded by doubt and worry... a path you might not have ventured on in the beginning, but which rises to a new plateau...
I have decided to take some risks of my own. I want to be heard. I want my words to touch someone's heart and jolt them into action.
I have decided to let the wind re-direct my steps... and dare...
My dream is to publish this blog; to write, to hope, to love.
I am addressing this to you, all of you:
I would like to publish this blog + others, maybe as an anthology, definitely as a reminder. I think that we have the opportunity to voice our concerns, our hopes, our fears, ourselves...
I believe we stand a chance of making a difference, in making sure the humane side is not lost along the way to political stardom.
If you have any ideas, if you know anyone who might be interested, do not hesitate to let me know. My dream depends on you.
Till we meet again
This week, many people said goodbye.
Many people who would not have met under different circumstances, tearfully parted ways with the people who welcomed them and with whom they lived for the past month. Children and the volunteers who came in day after to day to play with them made promises to see one another again; their most prized possessions, drawings, dances, activities learnt during their forced vacation, treasured in their hearts, theirs forever.
This inter-cultural, inter-religious dialogue would never have been possible if this crisis had not occurred. Let us not allow this crisis to be in vain. Even though the public schools, houses, and apartments, once bursting at the seams with people who had left their homes are now empty, they still echo with their spirit, and it sings this song: "Till we meet again. take care, stay safe, know that our homes are always open, and always remember how brave we were together, and how that changed us both for the better."
As the dust settles
As the dust settles, and silence pervades our soul, we look around to find ourselves once again alone. The war seems faraway, even though it has marked or in fact temporarily rearranged our landscape. Muffled beneath the victory are the despair and grief of a people who have lost it all. Masked is pain and suffering and bad dreams.
But no one dares to go there. As long as nothing is being blown up then there is no need to shed some light on it. Then again, did we expect more? In these last summer nights drained of fun and love of life, awaiting the red orange leaves of fall, we ponder the cycle of violence... We are all trying to survive, not heal, and so we forget to look around us and see the real problem: the fear, the anger, the helplessness, that are hidden among the rubble.
As the dust settles, we are left standing in the middle of a battlefield where imaginary battles rage on, where peace is as elusive as the sound of birds, and a lonely flag is raised high on the remains of a home, a land, a country.
Slowly but surely
Slowly but surely, things are returning to life as people are drifting back home and back to work. Slowly but surely, we are looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.
Slowly but surely.
The ceasefire is holding and reconstruction has begun. The yo-yo has been tucked away and the strange sound of silence fills the air.The anxiety though, is still there. So is the insomnia. But they too must pass.
Slowly but surely.
We know not what awaits us tomorrow
We only hope for a miracle
Because even in the darkest hour, hope is never far away.
We have hit the bottom of that endless hole
Pushed and shoved along the way.
We cannot but remember:
Red Cross saving
But today, we have started to climb out.
We have initiated our recovery
Drenched in hope
Reaching for the stars
Believing in ourselves
Today, we reclaim our lives.
Today, we are alive.
Well, its hard to believe that this inferno is going to end as abruptly as it began. When I woke up today, the humming of the birds in the distance was the same as yesterday. The foggy sky was still the same.
But I, I am not the same.
I have changed. You see, war used to be something I heard about, a distant truth, a memory in the minds of the older generation, embellished at will, producing local heroes and war machines. It resulted in catastrophic consequences but no one learnt the lesson. It was confined to the recesses of their minds and deleted from their hearts till they could no longer be sympathetic to the plea of other Lebanese who had also suffered. Everyone was busy pointing fingers, not holding hands.
And soon, it was banished from conversation. Too soon its victims were forgotten. Too soon, and yet not soon enough, because all they had done was survive. They had not healed and they had not forgiven. Anger and guilt filled their souls. Living became a challenge, and love was a faraway dream. They only had enough strength left to rebuild, to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and attempt to reassemble the puzzle.
Now, will I be able to resist succumbing to that nostalgia? Shall I also resign this experience to the past and only reminisce about my part in it? How do I look at the future of my country, of my future in it?
In Lebanon, life is worth living even though it's so damn hard. Basic things, such as getting a job or building a house take forever, and just when we think we are finally standing on our feet a disaster happens: like the bombings last year, like this war... and again we find ourselves on our knees.
When are we going to help one another? When are we going to change our outlook on war in our country? More importantly, where is this change going to take place? If it is going to be a charade played out by politicians for an international audience, then it won't last. But, if this change occurs in our hearts, then we stand a chance at a better future and our dreams will once again come to life.
Hoping for a Ceasefire
Headache, dreadful headache, pounding at my temples...
Don't you realise that tonight, things could change?
Since I have aged considerably during this war, I have acquired some habits I used to associate with my parents, namely listening to the news and hushing everyone around me in order to give it my undivided attention.
The unrelentless pounding is blinding me.
I hope the UN resolution can lead to a ceasefire. And so, even though my head is waging a war with itself, I will stay awake to listen to the result of the vote. The ironic part is that even though a ceasefire may be imminent the air raids are still as invasive as ever.
I wonder why...
I just wish we can stop destroying one another and start on the more important task at hand, rebuilding...
23 going on 50
Today, I have aged.
I'm 23 going on 50.
I'm old and tired and my body aches...
It doesn't respond well to being huddled in the corner of the bathroom, crying. My stomach is queasy, and I resist the urge to vomit every 5 minutes. I take a look at the bathroom walls, absorbing every detail when a scary question comes to mind: what would be the quickest way to evacuate the house? What items would I need to take along?
That question shook me to the very core, and the tears that had been building up since the beginning of this hell exploded. It was as if the dam had broken and I could hold them back no more. Huddled in my corner, heaving and sighing, I started making mental notes: the most important item was my grandfather's medicine... more tears welled up... his cane too... God, would he make it out of the house on time, if we had to leave?
I dry my tears.
I promised myself I would never again succomb to this helplessness. Its just that the longer this goes on, the more time we'll need to recover, and more of my dreams will have to be postponed.
I feel older, much older.
More cynical too.
Grasping on to my humanity, I vow I will go down kicking.
I'm not ready to blow out those candles just yet.
Mourning our Ideals
I think today will be one of the scariest days of my life, as I slowly realise that the ideals of truth, justice and peace are dead. As I lay a wreath on the tomb of these great propellors of humanity, I wonder what the future holds, since the moderators of jealousy and greed have been put to rest.
Today marks a turning point in this war as 30 days of massacre, destruction, and violence fail to be sufficient to arrive at a ceasefire and ease people's suffering.
Today, we will be grateful to be alive. We will appreciate basic elements such as water, electricity, and fuel. We will be glued to our TV sets. We will pray for the people stuck under the rubble as well as those who perished underneath. We will accompany the refugees and greet them in their home away from home.
I was afraid of the war becoming my routine, as I kept on repeating: Tomorrow it will be over. Tomorrow they will come to their senses. Tomorrow it will be alright...
I think tomorrow has come.
However, we are far from alright.
We have all been systematically confined to whatever geographic location we happen to be in now as bridges and roads have been destroyed and fuel shortages are a reality. We have developed an immunity to bomb blasts and air raids, and hardly look up at the sky to see their source anymore. We have learnt not to depend on anyone but ourselves, and know that our survival is our problem. We have discovered that health care will soon become a luxury as hospitals run on emergency fuel and will soon be forced to compromise on the quality of care provided. We have pondered the future of our children, whose education has now been put on hold. We have witnessed a score of civilian casualties: children, men, women, and elderly... all killed with savagery and nonchalence. We have dipped our feet in the once blue sea only to find it a yucky black mess, a cemetary for all creatures of the sea. We have watched our souces of livelihood being taken away, and we don't know if we will still have a job when this is over.
When this is over... If this is over...
As the funeral procession carries on through different parts of Lebanon, through the busy cities and the forgotton villages, citizens shower the coffin with questions as they follow behind. But none of them know the destination, none know how long it will take to get there. None. As the ideals of truth, justice and peace are being buried, they cast a glance at the world they leave behind; they see the people whose eyes are glazed with tears unshed, whose heads are bowed, whose hearts are breaking, mourning the death of their ideals, their saving grace.
I'm growing more passive every day, it is taking more bombs and rockets; more deaths, to shake me.
I think i've grown numb to this whole situation. It will soon be 30 days and still no cease fire.
To all the people around the world who held candlelight vigils, thank you. We long for peace, we long for staiblity, we long for love. I imagined them defying the night with their glimmer of hope and somehow I felt safer. Maybe that flame can rekindle the fire of defiance in my heart.
All I can do is write, and all I can write about is the storm occuring in my soul. When I started this blog, I had never done it before and it was a way of venting my frustration. Several posts later, it became a mission, the only thing I looked forward to daily. Now it is a thread linking me to an invisible network of people who know me intimately and voice their concern too.
My speeches are slowly turning into conversations, poetic words finding solace...
I am being depleted.
I feel empty because my weary soul has escaped and hidden in the recesses of my heart.
My words echo and return to me, distorted.
We are all prisoners, they say - trapped in our house - in our land - in our nation.
We are being isolated and left to ponder the fate of others, like us, stuck with no way out.
As blasts of light fill an empty sky... and then darkness... I wonder...
How many families will be offered on the altar of sacrifice?
How many will leave their homes?
How many will have nothing to return to?
How many will not return?
Today, they found people buried alive in Houla. Can anyone imagine a more torturous situation?
While I still have the comfort of my home, they were trapped under theirs, huddled together, not knowing their fate. Parents and children, sharing a cramped, dark space; the sound of lullabies filling the air as mothers sing their babies to sleep.
This was their prayer...
And this is mine... as long as I still find the words...
Many people lost their lives today...
The cut is getting deeper, both sides are now drowning in the blood of their own citizens.
More innocent people will die soon when the fuel runs out and hospitals can no longer tend to their wounds.
Soon, we will all be wearing black and mourning the death of our people and our country.
Across the border, they are also mourning.
We must admit - we must remember - that love and grief are universal.
We must remember - because if this vicious cycle where to be repeated, I don't think anyone would survive...
I think I have been playing a charade with myself.
Today my body was trying to tell me something, something I wasn't ready to admit to myself. But it was unrelentless and until I yielded, it would not be quiet. Every fiber in my body was screaming out: You're afraid!!! Scared!! Worn out!
But why? I have been involved in community work with refugee children. I have been hanging out with my friends.
I have been writing. I have been active.
I have not given in to depression. I have not cried. I have resisted the use of the word WAR.
Yet my body was telling me that I was fearful, that somehow, despite my efforts, that dark feeling had crept into my heart and was slowly poisoning it.
I avoid going to bed early because I want to be too tired to analyse. I want to fall asleep so deeply that neither the sound of rockets nor nightmares will awaken me.
I want to sink into oblivion and wake up to a brand new day. But what i'm really waking up to is the morning news, praying that no more bridges have been burnt and that the Qana massacre has not been repeated.
Can you blame me for wanting to sleep late?
And once I have guessed the charade, I wonder what the next step is... whether it is in my hands...
Sorry this is not making much sense. I am too tired and worn out to think.
I have never been good at charades.
The YO-YO Effect
Today, I have been unable to concentrate.
My mind was been blown away with the blasts and i'm no longer making sense.
I feel they are toying with us, luring us with a false sense of security only to blast us to smithereens.
The YO-YO effect.
Not safe - Safe.
Suspended on a string, balancing between the extremely precarious and the comfortably safe.
Not safe - Safe
My lucky number.
Why couldn't it be over by now?
It seems like we're headed for 24 more days
Not safe - Safe
Not safe - Safe
I'm proud of all the people who have taken to blogs, there is no louder voice than a cry from the heart.
I have been reading the innermost thoughts of people who I may or may not know, and I am drawing strength from them.
I also share their anguish.
One of them was talking about losing our dreams, and I was being brave and telling her that only WE could give away our dreams...
Can I take it back?? The YO-YO effect is getting to me.
We were supposed to have a cease fire.
We were supposed to return to work.
We were supposed to be enjoying summer days and nights.
We were supposed to be rebuilding.
We were supposed...
There is no safety, no safe grounds, no safe moves.
We are prone to an attack anywhere, and at any time.
Fuel is running out.
Food is running out.
Medicine is running out.
People are running out.
I guess running has become the new national passtime...
We are growing tired.
I just hope that we don't grow silent.
The world as seen by... children
Working for so many years with children, has left me fascinated by their innocence, this sense of wonder with which they behold the world...
They are curious, full of life.
They are hopeful.
They believe in dreams.
They aspire to be great when they grow up.
They love unconditionally.
They see the best in one another.
They always keep their promises.
All children do. It doesn't matter where they were born, who their parents are, and what their family name is. Children will marvel at life... until they grow up.
Today, I met some refugee children who are living with their families in a school close to my home. They were happily listening to a story, drawing, and asking questions. I promised to return on Saturday so we could play some games.
It felt good to reconnect with that part of me that was a child, and found joy in the little things. I wonder why do we grow old?
I should have posted this yesterday. Then the wave of enthusiasm would still be appropriate. Today, new actions that will inevitably lead to new consequences have sprung into action, probably making this post obsolete.
Yesterday, I went to Beirut for the first time in 20 days. I have never been away for so long and I was eager to greet the city, like a long lost lover. I got into my car, turned off the radio, and rolled down the windows, anxious to listen to the sounds of the city. Since the beginning of the invasion, I had been cooped up in my safe haven, in a little village in the mountains, where the noise and the action of Beirut seem far away. I never meant to stay away that long, but fuel shortages have a way of getting to the most adventurous among us.
So yesterday, I started my descent to Antelias, then Dora, then Downtown, finally arriving at Hamra, and I can honestly say that I have never welcomed this assault on my senses with more happiness!
I rolled down the window and let all the sounds sink in. Yes, Beirut is ok, we will survive! People are resilient, honking their horns, changing lanes without warning, and rushing about their day.
No sound ever sounded sweeter. I went to my office. I visited some friends. For a while, it seemed we had gotten through, we were positive, we were figthing back.
I went to bed with this feeling, letting it envelop me, giving in to the sense of security.
Then I woke up this morning to the News, and I pine for yesterday.
Let's not forget who we are, what makes us unique. We are cursed with survival. It's so hard to watch everything you've worked for being destroyed and know that you are left with the pieces and a future. A future you have to build and rebuild and re-rebuild.
I revert to yesterday's enthusiasm. I don't want to give up or give in.
I want to HONK!