I was afraid of my return.
I was afraid of making commitments that would keep me from being, as one of the girls told me last week: “look at how stuck I am now!"
I was afraid of embarking on a few experiences, not precisely in fear of them, but perhaps in fear of people’s judgments that would accompany a novice in a world full of 'experts!'
Though the past year, I felt more global, and felt the need and a necessity to embrace this feeling of being worldly, with complete acceptance to the possibility that this could just be a passing phase. What's the harm in widening the horizons of what I called ‘’home?'
I felt guilty for thinking that.
I felt guilty toward Jeddah, that I was being less loyal to the beauty of the Red Sea.
Even though those aspirations were lessons learnt from this very place.
Even thought those aspirations were a result of diving into its very sea.
How could I possibly call anything other than Jeddah my 'home?’
I was taught this guilt, because in essence, I wasn’t leaving home. No one said I was!
I began playing with the idea of what constituted a home.
I was comforted by the realization that what constitutes a home wasn't where or what home was, but rather the mere fact of being a home for myself.
I was comforted when I began feeling home when I was alone, without the dependency on a person or a thing, feeling home when I was doing what I was doing, and when I simply made eye contact with another.
Despite the remaining fear and guilt, I learned to be comfortable with myself, and to simply be at home with it.
What helped me the most throughout this process was the idea of my death.
The death of myself and the death of my body.
The death that I would have to go through alone, because it wouldn’t be possible for anyone to die it for me.
I felt more connected as I began thinking about this.
About the silence, solitude, and the time lapses.
About the conversations I would have with myself, and those I wouldn’t.
And a lot of sand.
This idea kindled a deeper and better connection with the unknown, despite a fear of it.
A connection with you, as you go over those lines, and begin thinking about your own conversation with yourself.
A connection to apologize and to accept apologies, because I too would not be able to die for others.
And most importantly, it kindled a deeper and better connection with my life, and how I would like to live it. And no, it's not about living it alone or in isolation from others, but rather, how I would like to live it knowing that I would be experiencing death on my own, alone.
For some time, a book on Existential Psychotherapy laid near my bed.
Today, I decided to continue reading it, and reached a chapter on Death.
It was as if this book was silently guiding me toward my death, or in other words, toward my life.
Indeed, I nodded when I read that “although the physicality of death destroys man, the idea of death saves him.” I nodded because I often noticed that people forgot to save their lives after the death of a loved one, and instead focused on the destruction of their bodies, and the destruction of their own time without them.
I remembered how my first Facebook post after my first encounter with death, the death of my great grandfather, was about "how much I learned about life, as I experienced his death." (I kinda felt selfish though for having used his death as a learning experience for improving my life, but that’s probably just because we had learned that life is better than death, right??) Because of that, I began realizing the magnitude of losing a loved one and the impact that the deaths of those I love had on me. Certainly, an underestimated impact.
Today, I pondered what I learned of death and what I learned about it, and I stumbled upon this Qur’anic verse from one of my favorite chapters in the book: “[God] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (Al-Mulk, 2).
Immediately, this verse had me propose a stream of questions, and the following explanation from the Existential Psychology book helped me answer them afterwards: Why would God use both, our death and our life, to test how much of good deeds we had worked for? Isn’t it enough to look at one’s life to determine how much of good deeds one has done…?
Well, here goes nothing: The idea of death saving people happens by saving them from a state of ‘forgetfulness of being,’ a state that one lives by immersing oneself in everyday matters, and eventually losing oneself in the ’they.’ Death thus, moves people from this state of being to another, a state of ‘mindfulness of being,’ which constitutes of one’s self-awareness. It is here, my dear ones, that people can appreciate that things simply ‘are’ and that people have the power to change.
Good deeds will thus be an immediate result of this saving, of the mindfulness of being, and of an awareness of one's ability to change.
My mom had often told her children that her death will has been ready ever since her high school (she only updates it every now and then), and it always saddened me that she's okay with that. Everytime she shares this piece of 'information,' we shout: "بعيد الشر يا ماما!" So like every other child, I’m assuming, I wished to die before her!
Today, as I read that “the Chinese pictogram for ‘crisis’ is a combination of two symbols: “danger” and “opportunity,” (despite debates over its possible fallasy), I knew that she wanted us to be aware of the opportunity we would have in the face of any person's death, toward our own personal growth, and toward being and doing good in life.
Today, despite the remaining crumbles of fear and anxiety here and there, I am trying to live. Fully. Toward a better life. And certainly, toward a better death.