Tag Archive - My Stories

If I Was Free, I Would…

What if I didn’t have to work? What if I had enough money right now to quit my job and do what I want? That’s fun to imagine :) So I though I should enjoy some fun written visualization!

I sometimes wonder how we made life so complicated! Our society is designed in a way to make sure many people will be stuck doing things they hate in order to survive!

Our needs are really simple. We need food, cloths and shelter. Once we have them, we’re good to go, and good to live!

“If you wake up free of illness, safe in your community, with enough food for the day ahead, then you can say good buy to any other needs from this World!” Prophet Muhammad

Why in the world did food become hard to find for millions of people?!

Why, when land is immensly vast, did it become expensive to get a piece of land and have your home in it? Why build those crazy skyscrapers, they’re complicated and maintaining them requires much more work and resources than a normal building! Did we already use every piece of land that we have to build up and high?!

Why would a house cost hundreds of thousands after all? It really doesn’t have to be this way.

People designed a labyrinth and they got lost in it. Then they designed tools and maps and jobs to try to make life easier inside the labyrinth! How about we just get out of the labyrinth?!!!

Well, most people are already stuck in it! We have governments designing our lives, we can’t just go out there and redesign our life. It’s not even about redesigning life, it’s about getting out of the sophisticated traps and get back to normal!

We even have countries, boundaries, visas, citizenships! Someone living in a poor country has to use tunnels to come into a richer one, they wouldn’t be granted a visa anyway!

Oh, politics! Politics is the proof that we gave up our life to the greedy, the heartless, the self-centered to take care of our needs and communities! Let’s get out of there or frustration will knock down my mind!

See where my though chain took me, I started by a fun idea and ended up into a depressing look at reality!

Back to my fun visualization :)

Now if I had enough money to pay off all my debt – car loan and some other debt :( – and be free from the need to work for money, what would I do?

I will not quit my job on the spot. I hope I can give a one month notice and make sure I hand my duties over smoothly, while working on the transition:

1. I would donate/give away all the stuff that I don’t need and don’t use. I’ll go through my cloths (which I’ve been already doing, slowly) and keep only the pieces that I really love. Dealing with my books will be harder! I won’t rush into giving them away (I’m already working on a plan to deal with my bigger-than-I-need library).

2. I will get a storage in Chicago where I will keep all the stuff that I didn’t give away, end my rent, get in the car and go on a road trip! The point is to visit the places that I think I want to move to.

3. Now I need to move somewhere warm and sunny. Lots of greenery and nature required! Ideally somewhere in or close to the mountains. I will look for an apartment with a balcony, looking to an open horizon!

Once I moved into my new place. How would I spend my all-free time?

- Lots of walking, hiking and biking!

- Now that I’m relaxed, no energy wasted in going to and back from work, no energy drained sitting in a dark room staring at the computer, I can engage in the kind of slow, focused writing that I really like. This type of writing is more of an introspection. No rush to finish anything. Just listening to my inner self and bringing it out in words. The kind of writing that is like taking a bath in the light of Spirit!

- I can also breath the fresh intellectual air of focused reading! I want to read about religions, history, get back to reading great fiction (haven’t done it in almost a decade!), philosophy, biographies, and the subjects relating to our present day problems and challenges, especially poverty and the environmental crisis. I’d like to gain a deeper understanding and make my own conclusions of what we can REALLY do to REALLY make a difference. It doesn’t matter how much we will change history. What matters is do what we have to, what we really can do to end the shameful injustice and humiliation that tens of millions of our brothers and sisters in humanity are enduring this very same moment! :(

- I will read and write out in nature.

- A great lifestyle change that I will now introduce is waking up early enough, every day, to witness the powerful everyday re-begining that is Sunrise!

 

Overlook_Sunrise 011

- Now I can also feed my body the things that I love most in nature: green and sunlight! You must already know how connected these two are, no mystery here! I have time to actually touch my vegetables, cut and prepare them slowly and mindfully, and smell them in the process! :)

Now, wouldn’t you love to do the same?!

Ok, and once you do it like I just did, what’s the point? Are we then to get depressed to the immense gap between hope and reality?

The point is to look at this vision, and start doing what can be done already. No waiting intended! Surely some, if not  many, of its components can already be started today.

I can, and already started to, exercise getting rid of unnecessary stuff and spending, in order to lose all the heavy weight that’s holding me down!

I can plan more walking and hiking during the week-end, during the summer. Indeed, the freezing northern winters have nothing to do with this vision. The trees take off their greenery. Being outdoors when it’s 15 F and colder is not too much fun! But while doing more of it in the summer, I can bring the vision to the center of my plans, instead of burying it under depression and hopelessness. With the vision energizing the hope, I can make a long-term plan for moving to the Sun!

I used to post in this blog once a month. Now I’m writing more even though I have more blogs in English and Arabic. I’m also trying to improve my reading. Both will not be as focused as the above vision would like to, but they can be gradually improved and increased.

Why don’t you write down your own vision? Why don’t you start today, little by little, to introduce pieces of it into your life NOW? I just wrote a draft of my own vision. I will build on it. That’s the way out of frustration into inspiration, from surviving into meaning.

Meaning is the food of the soul. We can’t be happy carrying around a soul in a coma in a polluted vehicle – the junk food bodies of modern times!

Why Write to No One?

I wish I could make a living by reading and writing! Oh why not add walking in nature and taking pictures too! :) Because making a living by doing something we don’t really enjoy (working for money) is not actually making a living, it’s making a dying!

I literally feel suffocated by doing work that I don’t enjoy or believe in. I start the job, feel ok or, at times, excited during the learning and exploring stages, then once things get down to repeating what I’ve learned, I start loosing my mind for boredom! And all jobs I had stop growing after a few short months! I thought I needed to look for that good job that keeps me excited, learning, exploring and growing. I’m sure there could be such job somewhere out there. But what if I can’t find it and it can’t find me?!

In a recent post by simple living blogger Tammy Strobel where she interviewed a minimalism pioneer, Leo Babauta, he described his early stages in simplifying his life toward freedom like this:

“So I sat down, and made a list of the 4 things that were most important to me — that gave me joy. Then I started eliminating everything in my life that didn’t match these priorities, slowly getting out of commitments.”

 

DSC00911

As I was read these words, I thought of the things that I enjoy, simple things. I can summarize them all in one word: BEAUTY! Reading a good book is beautiful. My love for walking is about looking around at the beauties of this world. Taking pictures is an attempt to capture Beauty as we see it through our own eyes and perspective. Having coffee with a good friend is about experiencing the beauty of genuine connection. Meditating or praying is about feeling the beauty of feeling the presence of the Source of Beauty (“God is Beautiful and He loves Beauty” Prophet Muhammad).

 But instead of spending time with Beauty, I spend 40 hours a week in a dark office room, away from the beauty of sunshine, doing things that aren’t necessarily beautiful, adding beauty to the world or eliminating ugliness. Obviously this lifestyle is unsustainable for me. You can’t sustain an action that you don’t like and keep your sanity! I mean, we will be sane and normal and all, but we will live disconnected from our best human capabilities and potential to lead a beautiful life and to create beauty and meaning around us. That’s why we must seriously make our plan and get on the road toward Beauty!

We have to start small. As long as we don’t have a fortune and we have to work to survive, we have to build a reasonable plan in order to set our life free. That’s where simple living comes in as an absolute MUST. We have to stop wasting our money on adding just more stuff that we don’t need or enjoy. This will just keep us into the vicious cycle: working for money, spending this money on stuff, running out of money at the end of the month, having to keep working for the next paycheck, etc.

So I’m starting by trying to eliminate all unnecessary spending. Then I started to do more of the things that matter to me, reading and writing. Then I thought of what the title of this post is about: why write in a blog that is being read by a handful of people? This thought is so wrong. Because our focus should be on doing what we want to do, regardless of the outcome. Or to put it more accurately, regardless of the immediate outcome.  I’ll have all those blogs, experiment with writing, and work on being disattached from the outcome. That’s what real focus is about. I might wonder how is this improving my life. But the truth is, even while keeping my job and working for money, I’m already very slowly trying to do more of what I like to do. It’s not about getting out of my job right now. Because being in this situation is by itself a challenge. We just need to change how we perceive our circumstances.

Instead of hating where we are now, we better enjoy it as part of a marvelous journey toward our dreams!

Restroom encounters and the ASS-U-ME lesson!

We pass by so many people every single day. We don’t pay attention to them. Everyone has a story behind. And every story has much wisdom and many lessons to it.

And we usually keep to ourselves. We don’t explore people. We think it’s intruding. But the reality is, in most cases, people won’t mind a friendly approach and a few questions. We are designed to be social. God created people to co-exist. To enjoy sharing and being together. To help each other. To learn from each other.

Recently I had a small experience that got me thinking about all that. Someone I meet a few times a week in the restroom. His office is in the same floor. I always pass by his quiet office and wonder what kind of business does he do under this “web services” title. I’d even say to myself, this office looks like they’re not doing any business in this tough economy. I even went on wondering why won’t the owner just have a home office and save a few thousands a month in useless rent. He doesn’t seem to be making any money any anyway!
 
I was wrong! I remembered what a friend taught me once, a lesson that was passed to her by one of her school teachers. The lesson is simple, and it goes like this: “ASSUME… makes an ASS of U and ME!!!”. What a genius remark!
 
I met him as usual. We say hi and hello, how are you and how’s it going. Fine thank you. Blah blah blah! But that day I just was in the mood for some real questions:
 
- How’s business going?
- Actually it’s going very well.
- Wow, really! So you do web services? What’s that exactly?
- We shoot videos for companies that wish to have some YouTube presence.
- So you shoot the videos in the office?
- Yes. And we’re trying to expand and add some space to the office. It’s become too small.
 
Wow! How wrong was I. I assumed things by what I see from outside! I was feeling sad for this company and wishing they just save the rent and move to a home office instead, telling myself I’d do this smart move if I was in their place! Why worry about an expensive Chicago downtown location when you can create your web sites from home!
 
But I knew better after this short conversation! Their web services didn’t include making websites at all! And they were expanding their office, far from thinking about moving to a home office and save the rent! I also learned that YouTube is creating new business opportunities. But most importantly, I learned not to judge anything when we look from the outside!

The sun is back!

I spent the majority of my time in America in the northern states. I grew up under sunny skies. A cloudy day in Egypt used to feel nice and different. But the Egyptian sun wasn’t always a good thing, especially in hot summer days, in dusty cities, where the gift of the green color wasn’t that generous.

Now 3 months into my second Chicago year, I’m again rethinking a new relocation. South. Did you notice: South and Sun interestingly share the same first letter!
 
Today we have a sunny day. The world looks different, alive, and beautiful. Hope is renewed, at least in my heart. My life isn’t going exactly wonderful. Something is missing. Sunshine helps me look for it, well, under better lighting! I might know what’s missing. But knowing is not finding.
 
I did live in Florida for about a year. I don’t pretend that being in Sunshine State fixed everything. But at least it could help eliminate one mood-related problem!
 
However moving isn’t that easy. You know why. Job, money, survival issues. I did make a difficult move to Chicago 15 months ago, and it made my life better in some aspects. But I always knew that I belong somewhere warm and sunny, somewhere outdoor friendly.
 
I should plan my next move. The question is: how to free myself from money, or from having to work for money. I will be thinking about just that!

My 2008-2009 Twitter Wisdom! Part.1

I started tweeting in the summer of 2008. I always loved short phrases, the ones that express long experiences and deep meanings in few words.
 
I remember, when I was learning foreign languages in Egypt in high school and college, that whenever we were required to come up with sentences using new words or illustrating grammer rules, I always had to write a sentence that actually said something meaningful. It was like an extra rule that I created for myself, for my own fun and self-respect! For example, if we need to use the word “eat” in a sentence, I would feel so simplistic if I wrote: “Mark eats eggs for breakfast”; instead, I had to come up with something like: “Both Muslims and Jews don’t eat pork”, or “The Earth has enough food for all people to eat”. I just thought it was too easy, somewhat insulting to our intelligence to just come up with any sentences that have no meaning whatsoever!
 
Then Twitter came and gave me an opportunity to remember my self-imposed rule! I still can’t tweet everyday and use it as a brief journal of what I am doing. I am not saying this is how it should be. I think I can’t get myself out of the mentioned student state of mind just yet! So, I decided to pick my tweets that are saying something, that have some universal meaning beyond the expression of a moment, and publish them here. I will start by the 2008-2009 tweets, the ones that say some kind of wisdom or mark significant events for me, then I might do the same later with my more recent Twitter activity.
 
I made a plan for today. A plan is different than a to do list, which starts on paper and ends on paper!
May 21st, 2008
 
Lists don’t produce action. Meaning does! 
May 21st, 2008
 
I just woke up and it’s noon. Work controls your life style. I can’t wake up early because I work at night.
May 24th, 2008
 
I wish I had a year off so I can read all my books! 
May 26th, 2008
 
My car broke, I don’t have enough money to fix it and I rely on it for my job/income! Why am I not worried?! Because God does what He wills!
June 2nd, 2008
 
A new chapter of our life story starts with every new job – among other things. A new chapter started for me! 
Jan 13th, 2009
 
Death brings balance to life. And faith brings peace to death!
Jan 13th, 2009
 
A trip to a new coffee shop for a cup of mocha made me two new friends: two American Muslims/converts around my age!
Feb 22nd, 2009
 
Today was my second day reading in the bus on my way to and from work in Downtown Chicago. Same bus, new world!
Apr 15th, 2009
 
Man cannot truly live without a project!
Jul 17th, 2009
 
Even if I tried and fell a 1000 times, I’ll get up and make it 1001, because it might be the one time I really get up and be the real ME!
Jul 18th, 2009
 
Don’t look down at a person, because God is looking at your heart!
Jul 18th, 2009
 
Why do we forget to make use of what makes sense?!
Jul 18th, 2009
 
Look ahead to get ahead, look at your feet to fall in place!
Jul 21st, 2009
 
Asking the right question is the very first step to getting the right answer/solution.
Jul 21st, 2009
 
Our work should make us feel alive, not just make us a living!
Jul 22nd, 2009
 
Part two coming soon!
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