the in-betweens

The thrill of wonder

Thrill…

I came across this phrase – thrill of wonder – very recently in a Stanislaw Lem novel. It read:

…that thrill of wonder that had so often gripped me, and which I had felt as a schoolboy on learning of the existence of Solaris for the first time.

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Cairo, Egypt – December 2018

Wonder is, somewhat by default, full of possibilities. It’s human.
Wonder as a verb implies that it can perhaps be practised.
Wonder as a privilege to be offered to many and perhaps, all.

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Madaba, Jordan – February 2019

I feel grateful that I feel wonder when the sun sets in the horizon and particularly how it’s fading lights colour my surroundings – buildings, rocks, rooftops, treetops and faces.

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March-November 2018

Wow, it’s been a while…

MARCH

“Women empowerment.” Do we, should we, get tied up in instruments?
Jargons. target; beneficiaries; yada yada. tbh* jaded, too soon, too fast.
Communities, belonging and rituals. A special place for those with the magic to create/build communities. A thousand embraces for you.

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Roadside (urban) spring.

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Morning hours somewhere between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea; sore legs and tired eyes.

Why write these? Reflection, connection; experiments in both. Also, it’s fun to throw gra m m a  r    o u t      of   t  h  e    wi   n d      o w.    a      bre   ak  f-r-o-m    ThE ” p r o p er”  .

APRIL

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A friend on her phone: a story of (almost) forever and always.

Wadi Rum. The longest 10 kilometres.

MAY

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Public spaces; claiming, reclaiming.

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JUNE

ঘরে বাইরে | Home and the World
Remembering some lofty ideas about nations and nationalism.

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Amman protests – Ramadan 2018.

JULY

A blur.
Broke my 5k PR.

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Blood moon and some roadside dancing.

AUGUST

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Shadowplay.

Perseid meteor shower. Watched the meteor shower above Wadi Rum over a weekend. It peaked around 4 AM. Rampant bureaucracy felt like a faraway reality; albeit only for a moment.

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Photo by (tall) Nik. 

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Somewhere in Wadi Rum.

Did some ‘fun work.’ Wrote some fun stuff.

SEPTEMBER

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All (donor reporting) work and no play (or ‘fun’ work) makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Too many jargons.

OCTOBER

Wadi Hasa. Experienced this beautiful Wadi. If you ever visit Jordan and like the outdoors, this is a must. Most definitely one of the most beautiful parts of the Jordan Trail.

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Wadi Hasa: Day 2.

Goodbyes. Said see you soon to a dear friend and Amir.

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Where’s your mind? Visited a psychologist for the first time – meh.

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A friend and I met this wise cat somewhere around Um Uthaina.

NOVEMBER

Lost all my photos from summer 2016 until early November 2018. The ones above have been salvaged through screenshots and from WhatsApp groups. Lesson learned: always back up your photos (and make space for new ones).

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On the (my) mind:

February 2018

What a fantastic f-king month.

A lot more sunlight, running, reading, sketching, dancing, eating and connecting. Also a little more of ‘paying it forward’ – alas, I am here because of the kindness of other folks. And possibly something to do with my decision to put an end date to Jordan. It is probably true that we try to get make the most of situations upon the realisation of our temporariness.

Importance of childhood dreams. Throughout the month, I was reminded of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and the importance of childhood dreams. I reflected on my own. My childhood was inspired by science books, encyclopedias, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Living in a concrete jungle and being from a middle-class family, dreams of experiencing the Amazons, riding camels near the pyramids in Giza and wrestling with crocodiles in Austalia (hi, Steve Irwin) seemed far off. (didn’t finish writing)

Optimism over Despair. Chomsky. (didn’t finish writing)

Sleeping. After some four months of struggling, sweet sleep was finally back. The return coincided with the week I sent my last graduate school application. A chronic lack of sleep can drive one nuts

Beer-freeLet’s just say that I need to keep doing this every other month.

The Social Contract. (didn’t finish writing)

Connections. More importantly, spent time with friends, acquaintances and temporary strangers. A gentle reminder to ‘the self’ – end/continue notes with people. You don’t know when’s the next time you’ll share the same physical space. If at all.

Overall, ecstatic to have a more sane schedule.

https://www.ted.com/talks/randy_pausch_really_achieving_your_childhood_dreams

December 2017 and January 2018

good in-between for this ‘the in-betweens’.

I picked up Timothy Snyder’s tiny book-manifesto-lessons – On Tyranny: On Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – on a date’s recommendation some moons ago. Following are some words from the book, not in any particular order:

Any election can be the last.

Modern tyranny is terror management.

History does not repeat, but it does instruct.

To think what we, as individuals and groups, are doing to influence the political direction of our institutions.

We must defend institutions because they do not protect themselves.

If you see swastikas or other signs of hatred, “do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.”

Authoritarians need obedient civil servants.

It’s easy to follow along. It can seem strange to do or say something different. But without that unease there is no freedom.

Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media.

Time and again, the personal is political, the political is personal.

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Simultaneously, I took some break from reading and to some extent, discussing current politics. I missed much of the commentary on Jerusalem, Fire and Fury, elections in Kenya, protests in Iran and much more.

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The two months saw the resurfacing of some (negative) escapist tendencies, the fear of rejection, the fear of not being enough. Time to snap out of the autopilot mode and at the same time, leap into a  bit of uncertainty.

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Joy and happiness. What makes you happy? What gives you joy? Joy captures the state and the feeling more aptly. No?

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I had lost much of the zeal about work I started “2017” with. Here’s to being a little more idealistic!

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On human connections and impermanence

Are human connections ephemeral? When they are, is there anything wrong with them?

It depends on the relations. some are more fleeting than others. some are meaningful.

Yes and no. Yes, because it’s safer to assume it that way. No, because the fact that we can connect with each other at all is a miracle. I’m so weird that whenever I find someone with slight overlap im already overjoyed.

Not necessarily? But how we live now, (at least for young, global citizens) it seems that the most rational course of life requires fleeting human connection.

1. Duh.

But also:

2. There are no absolutes

3. Do you believe in soul connection?
Sometimes two humans accidentally show a little bit of their soul to each other
the part of themselves that they so desperately tried to hide
maybe without even noticing and then no matter where they go or who they become, a deep part of them still remembers what the other person’s soul felt like
and that’s the shit you can’t let go of
(for better or for worse)

3a. Family: Sometimes that means you are closed up like a pinecone in the winter, and no amount of shaking is going to let the soul out, and sometimes that means that you try to be closed up but only they know how to pry it out or that you are closed but not really going anywhere and eventually spring comes without you realizing it and maybe family is what stuck around until spring came or caused spring to come or is weather and seasons because sometimes you just got to keep going until you feel the warmth even though you know cold will come again but if you can maybe become a tree before then, then why the hell not?

3b. So what I’m saying is soul connection can be soft and warm and safe, or it can be screaming, lots of screaming, so much that you didn’t even think it was possible to scream this much

4. If you’re a human and you’re connected to yourself, do you last forever? Or do you lose and find yourself over and over again? And then each time you find yourself, do you find the same person, or do you find a stranger, someone new to connect to again? And where did all those other selves go?

5. I guess the connections that are not ephemeral are the ones where you can meet a person’s new self and learn them again and again, and they can learn the yous too, unless somehow you found their soul and/or they found yours and then there isn’t much you can do

but yeah human connections are fleeting

“Is there anything wrong with them?” No they were right when they were and now they no longer are, and so they can not be right or wrong (something can’t be right or wrong if it doesn’t exist, right?)

And I learn. And learn to accept. Impermanence.

About X months ago, a dear friend – the lovely KB – gifted me a notebook. In that notebook, together, we scribbled something. Over a year from then, how much have I progressed? Ever so slightly, but I have nonetheless.

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From a Medium post I quite enjoyed:

What we’re really craving is more connecting. And I learn. It is not necessary that I meet more people. Rather, the willingness to connect more to those that I have already met.

Can we connect more than that? Can I ask you what your favourite poem is? What drew you to it? Why you kept it with you? Dare I ask what you did for your birthday last year? What is your spirit animal? Why?

The act of revealing your whole self to someone else and having them reciprocate. I am failing at this. We worship, learn, aid, sing, watch, call, visit, fuck, create, talk, love, try, read and write to bring ourselves closer. To make whole what we lack in the emptiness of loneliness. Each deeper connection creates a deeper character, with more room to grow, more to lose and more to become.

And I learn. To play safe, to play solo, is to play a fool’s game — we may find success in rising above the rest, but we may only win by lifting up others. This requires intimacy. There are no workarounds.

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I’ve also been thinking about why I continue to write these. The reasons remain -meditation, practice and memory.

June, July, August, September, October and November 2017

What a whirlwind of three four unsettling five six months. At least in retrospect. Gratitude to everyone who’s been (t)here for these five six months.

This prose will never materialize as I’m imagining in my head, so here goes. Scrapped together with gratitude, anger, calm, love and distrust.

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A glimpse of the highest ‘point’ on earth, and toes in the lowest; in the presence sunrises and sunsets, soaking the light in between. New people, new faces, new stories; within and across borders.

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Waiting for sunrise with brother, strangers, fellow humans, and canines.

Parallel to a busy market street, a boy clad in a white shirt and maroon trousers comes back from school. Perhaps? The boy knocks the wooden door with patience. One, two, three. Speaking words that one from another land was unlikely to understand. Please open the door. Perhaps?

The boy continues to knock the door, but this time with impatience.

Pigeons gather in the modest neighbouring square, constantly shifting from the ground to the air and back. A boy in a green shirt, much younger than the boy in a white shirt, shifts through the pigeons while flailing his arms up and down.

Grey clouds gathering in the sky foretell rain in the city with urgency.  It doesn’t rain until much later that night.

Inside a dark corridor-like room? Space? Three people prepare food. Two work behind the counter, swiftly moving the pots and pans. The scent of cumin remains constant in the air.

Mirrors.

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IMG_2966So, what’s your story?

So, what are your stories? Tell me one of your stories? Tell me your collection of short stories? Tell me a story?IMG_2920IMG_2992

Ideas on nations, nation-states, states and borders have found a place in the mind since early 2016. They remain. 5:55 pm.

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Changing lights in growingly familiar spaces and places. Strong doses of post-5 pm blues and confusion.

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“Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective… We are in this together, this accumulation of scars… What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity.”

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What do you want to do in this life? What career are you thinking?
Leaving the world (systems blah) slightly less f*cked up for the next generation. How should one phrase this? How does one phrase this?

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What happens when one tries to suppress melancholy? It explodes.

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