Connecting the Dots
In one of Steve Jobs’ speeches he talked about connecting the dots. When you look back on your life you can ‘connect the dots’ and gain understanding about things that might not have been clear at the time. Looking back gives you a better understanding of your life and personality. When I watched Jobs’ speech, an overall picture was created for me of things that had happened in my past. The experiences of my life have formed ‘Me’ and I am proud of who I am.
I lived my first eleven years in Saudi Arabia and UAE. In 2000, we decided to spend a vacation in Egypt, but unfortunately my father died and everything turned upside down. My family lived a difficult life but looking back at those years, I appreciate every moment in them. Although I lost my father (the most amazing person I’d ever met) I connected the first group of dots in my life through looking back, and I started to gain wisdom behind the more powerful moments I hadn’t fully understood before.
I also worked to connect the dots about going back to my country to live a more primitive simple life after living a luxurious one. Everything was different. I remembered how difficult it was to get used to all of these new things. I remember that I told my little brother and sister, “we have to get used to and forget about the life we had and start a new life with different spirit.” I told them that we needed to try and deal with my mother who had started to face a lot of problems: she was a single mother yet was still strong. She still is strong today. Connecting the dots gives you a chance to see the positive side of everything and learn from the pain you suffered from in the past.
To live in a beautiful countryside amidst nature and to be part of it is so incredible. After a while, you feel that you can understand the feelings of plants and animals. To play with animals, to feed the ducks and geese, to climb trees to collect fruits, to feed cows and to look at their eyes and ask what they are thinking. To go fishing and learn patience, to run away from bees so to not have them sting me, to raise up doves and take care of their nests, to play the whole day out there with my relatives and turn back at night with dirty clothes and horrible face full of dust and mud. All of these things made me feel that I am connected to natural elements that offer wisdom.
I have experienced doing things by myself instead of with my father like going shopping which was very different from shopping in the cities of course. Shopping in the countryside only happened once a week. Sellers gathered at one particular street. Most were women with cages of vegetables, fruits, and other things. It was interesting to watch the reactions of people noticing how their accent is different from mine. Many would look at me and ask, “You are not originally from here?” and I would answer, “No I am originally from here but I have only been here for a short time”. I tried to assimilate and feel that I could be one of them with similar character traits as theirs but eventually after years I realized that I would never be one of them. This shocked me because I always felt that I do not belong. But how could I go back to a life I once thought I belonged to?
Living in the countryside allowed me to experience a lot of new cultural beliefs. These beliefs actually inspire me. Some of these things were the customs and traditions of death and birth. When my father died it was my first time attending a funeral. I learned that women come to a funeral to cry, scream and weep although they didn’t know the deceased. I could not understand why they were screaming like that. After a week they told us that we have to go to the graveyard to visit and read Koran. I went with them and I discovered that women bake food and fruits to give to people who were in the yard to pray for the dead. The same thing happened in the fortieth day after my father’s death. I wondered and asked if it is like a celebration and people simply come to enjoy food but was told it is done to pray for the dead.
Another strange thing that I like is the celebration of El Moled (which means a birth), it is a festival that people celebrate annually after a death of a person whom they think is a pious man or has a lot of blessings. After his death they celebrate every year. Many people come from different villages to attend. Many people dance some of the national dances and eat a lot of sweets. You can listen to people sing while others read the Koran. But actually I could not understand the connection between death and El Moled. There are many things people believe in and you cannot argue with them because they truly believe them. After a while you accept these things. My grandmother told me stories of some strange magical things that happened to her and I laughed when she told me about them. I told her that they could never happen but she always insists that they did happen and I have to believe in them. One of the things she believes in is that there is a snake that comes when you are sleeping and passes over your body without you feeling it. I told her that this never happened to me but she said it does happen even if I could not feel it.
Another thing is (El Nadaha) a beautiful woman who lives in the sea or lakes. She appears at night and starts to call out to those who have lost their way while walking at night. She seduces them and kidnaps men and takes them with her. There are many things that I grew up hearing and now I cannot decide whether they do exist or if they don’t. I just listen to these things and keep silent without believing or not believing. After moving to Cairo and experiencing a different life in the city and looking back on all of these situations, and the people I met and the different difficulties I have been through, I can connect the dots and be grateful for my life and what I am going through. It doesn’t matter whether I have difficulties achieving happiness because I believe that these experiences have been there for a reason. I always pray to Allah (God) to grant me patience and wisdom to appreciate and believe in what seems bad and to be grateful for all of these things.