Monday, May 17, 2010
Colorful or Contemptible?
Seems to me that the answer to this question is the key to my own peace of mind. – or lack thereof. If I can answer ‘colorful’ I am much happier and accepting. If I answer ‘contemptible’ I am in for a lot of suffering. It’s my choice. As is everything in life I suppose.
So I practice finding the color in situations that give me a start. Here are a few examples of finding the color (sometimes a light tint) in everyday occurrences.
#1 The Man With the Slashed Face
The other day I opened my door to see a man walking past with blood streaming down his face. As I unabashedly followed his progress down the street, I noticed his right ear lobe was flapping and barely hanging on to rest of his ear. Apparently, a neighbor had ‘punished him’ for some insult (or worse) to his wife.
Color it “Expedient Justice”.
The two men had a problem with each other. The aggrieved party could have pressed charges with the police and sent the aggressor to jail. But a quick knife slashing settled the score and the slashed party now has a ‘badge of courage’ in the form of new scars which some young men here seem to covet.
#2 Litter, Litter Everywhere
There is a lot of foot traffic on my street and children come and go many times a day … either for school, to run errands or play in the street. These youngsters are the major contributors to the trash that accumulates everyday. They unwrap their candy, cakes and cookies and just throw the trash on the ground. Of course there isn’t any receptacle for them to use so the wrappers end up being discarded ‘in the moment’.
Color it “Opportunity”.
Because there is trash (and more) on the streets every single day, it creates jobs which must be performed every single day. This keeps people employed and feeling useful. Also, if someday, someone wishes to educate the children about the joys of environmental friendly practices, there is a big need to be fulfilled here offering yet another job opportunity which will serve generations to come.
#3 Donkeys, Carossas, Motorcyles & Other Impediments
Walking through the medina is an exercise in navigating an obstacle course. One needs to keep an eye on the ground for open holes, animal dung and uneven pavement so as to avoid a twisted ankle or redolent footwear. And there are also the obstacles created by machinery, handmade conveyances, trains of donkeys, mules with oversized loads on their backs walking downhill, and masses of people.
Pedestrians come barreling out of a side street without looking, stop unexpectedly with you right on their heels, and aimlessly veer right and left making it impossible to pass. And then there are the herds of tourists following a guide through their tour of the medina. They take up all the space, stop without warning to take photos and generally behave with blithe ignorance of the fact that most of the people traversing the medina are trying to get some where or accomplish some task. And my all-time favorite is two women, each holding one handle of an overstuffed bag, walking side-by-side. They unerringly expand the space they occupy at the very moment when an opportunity to pass them arises, thereby making it impossible to go around them.
Color it “Developing Dexterity”
In order to get from here to there in the medina, it’s necessary to keep good “eye/foot” coordination and be ready to stop and adjust in an instant. This is excellent practice for cultivating quick thinking and even quicker action when responding to an endless array of obstacles. It also helps cultivate mental dexterity for it helps immensely to tint the situation with tolerance and patience for the flow of life before you. I like to look at the traffic in the medina like a river. The obstacles are the boulders in the river and I am the water that must meander or rush around it in order to keep flowing in the direction I want to go.
#4 Give Me …
… a dirham, a pen, a cigarette, 200 dirham. Everyday I get asked to give something. Or lend something. But I’ve learned I must be prepared to part with the requested item forever when someone asks me for a loan. It’s not that the person doesn’t intend to pay me back when they make the request. I believe they do. But often they just can’t … otherwise they wouldn’t be asking for it in the first place.
People knock on my door, grab my arm when I am passing in the street, and follow me for a short while as I am traverse the street of the medina and the new town and beg my favor for something.
Color it “Count Your Blessings”
I come from one of the wealthiest areas in my country. When I am there, I am the one without. Most people where I come from have more money and more holdings than I could ever dream of possessing. Here in Fes, I am the one who has more than most. And even though I barely have enough money to cover my own modest expenses, I do try to remember each day that I have what I need and I remind myself to be grateful.
#5 Being “Strange”
I am a stranger here. People stare and comment because I am different in look, attitude, clothing and experience. I am ‘other’ and that calls forth a host of responses; curiosity, contempt, envy, pity, interest, indifference, delight and more. It runs the gamut.
Color it “Compassion and Understanding”.
I now know what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land. So many people in my own country have been in this position and I’ve never really understood what they deal with day in and day out. I have a newfound compassion for foreigners and expats. Also, I am now deeply aware of my own thoughts when they head in a negative direction and with this awareness I am able to work on turning those thoughts around to something beneficial to me and to my fellow human beings.
Posted by Water Dragon at 4:56 AM