I remember meeting a sailor in Aswan, Egypt named Mohamed and I kept wondering, in my spoiled little head, how can he be happy with such simple things? How can he be content sitting in his galibiya*, watching the water, waiting for the sun to say its goodbyes and the night sky to greet him? Isn’t he antsy? Doesn’t he want more out of life? …
We bury my mother
thirty minutes out
from the city of Cairo,
though it feels as if
she has only departed
for a small nap;
the city traffic still
hums with her snore
and the Nile River
every modest Egyptian home,
as an embodiment of her arms,
welcoming the sun-baked farmers
who bend over
and sip water from her palms.
My god, She is everywhere;
her veins course through the city
as highways, guiding locals home;
her freckles are millions of blinking
streetlights; her smile is seen
in the waves of heat in the air; her laughter
pours from the speakers of old…
One night, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw an angel sitting at the edge of my big sister Amani’s bed. I lay still under the covers, my fingers digging into the mattress. I was sixteen and very scared. I was sure it was an angel, coming to take my sister away from me. But the angel, upon seeing I was awake, gave me a long look and left. It was a promise to come back another time.
In the morning over breakfast, I told Amani of what I saw.
“An angel?” she said, unconvinced. She split a large circular pita bread in two, handing my half, as she always did. We were at the Old Vintage Hotel of Aswan, Egypt. We always visited in the summer. …
When my new tenant and roommate, Sana, moved into the house, she came with one bag and an arm of pharmacy books. She settled immediately in the room across mine in my two-floor house, living as quietly as a ghost. She had a monotone voice and no particular interest in talking with me, which I was very happy about. I liked the house to be quiet so that I could work on my portraits and my art. …
I would like to live
without the fear of time,
without the fear of losing control,
and without the desire to have it.
Control is an illusion. We are all fallen leaves from a tree,
and when the wind didn’t bring me back to you, I could not fight it.
I could only think:
at least I had the pleasure once
of loving you.
Every day, we must tell ourselves that we are exactly where we are meant to be, no matter how much it feels like we’re just not there yet. We will learn to pay attention to the given moment because it is trying to tell us something about our lives and our purpose. Setting goals is crucial, but we cannot perseverate on what the future holds just to avoid our present lives. We will learn to meditate, pray, and allow ourselves to be joyful when we can because rest leads to better work. The way to become more aware is to sit with ourselves in silence and reflect, no matter how uncomfortable it is, and to truly get to know ourselves in order to realize our path. Knowing our purpose means first knowing ourselves. …
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”
I remember, as a kid, going to my maternal grandfather’s house, and how my great aunt and great grandmother would sit about the living room singing to me with words they made up on the spot. They would sway back and forth and dance about the place. I thought they were crazy, and now in my twenties, I recognize their crazy as creativity.
It’s sad, but I don’t see that creativity in adults often.
As a speech-language pathology student now who works with kids, I’ve found my creativity in my time with them. Being with kids forces you out of yourself. You can’t be stiff, because they’ll notice and they’ll be distant. You can’t follow the rules, because that’s not how kids play. Free play means allowing for anything to happen without trying to control it, a lesson that I’ve learned needs to be carried over to life in general. …