Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Lesson on Humanity





“Egypt does not recognize the travel document they issue to Palestinian refugees, on that basis, we cannot officially acknowledge the authenticity of your document”. This is the reason Japan refused to issue me – a Palestinian, carrying an Egyptian travel document for refugees – a visa.

“However, we are very keen on assisting any person interested in visiting our country and believe it is important to open our doors to potential tourists, thus, kindly accept this temporary Japanese travel document that we have issued in your name. It will allow you to enter Japan without any troubles at passport control.”

I stood there quietly, astonished. Humbled at the level of humanity exhibited by the Japanese authority representatives. Touched by the welcoming attitude clearly pulsing through their words.

The majority of Middle Eastern countries refuse to issue visas to Palestinian refugees for the same reasons stated above but instead of searching for solutions, they choose to simply reject applications, even before they are submitted to immigration.  


To the Japanese government, thank you for your undefeated greatness and to the rest of the world, well, there is always a lesson to be learnt from the humanity of others.

Note: My mother is traveling to Japan in a few weeks so I wanted to share the story of  her visa journey at the Japanese embassy, because to me, it exemplifies the true meaning of a great nation. I used first person, but obviously my mother is the protagonist.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I Promise Me…

As I embark on my 25th year on this earth, I find myself keen on reflecting on my life and the many blessings I am surrounded by every day. I read this beautiful quote by Christian D. Larson in his book -Your Forces and How to Use Them- a while back and think it forms the perfect skeleton for my reflection. He says: 

“Promise Yourself:
“To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.”





This year I am stronger than I have ever been only because I have been weak and vulnerable before.  I previously allowed trivial topics to disturb my peace of mind until I discovered that peace of mind grows from within. So I turned my weakness in to strength and my vulnerability in to power by taking my first steps on the path of health and diverted my professional destination to a career that pleases my heart.  It is true, talking health, happiness and prosperity only brings these things in to our lives and I have experienced that first hand. With strength and determination, all is falling in to place. So, yes, I have probably bored many of my friends talking about my different journeys, but I sure am happy I did.  
“To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.”

When I first read this part of the quote, I thought of a few people in my life who –to me- are a perfect representation of these words. They continuously make me feel special, they appreciate my silliness and praise my intelligence, they draw a smile on my face every morning just by appreciating the sunny part of me. For that, I am thankful and I cannot wait to help them see their beauty in this crucial year of my life. When I look back at the past few years, I realize that some people really do walk in to our lives and flip them upside down in the best way possible but when we are younger, we are not appreciative of these individuals, so as I begin my 25th year in life’s wonderful  journey, I plan on holding on to these rays of sunshine so tight and making them shine as bright as they make my heart glow. 

“To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.”


I learnt this only a short while back when I took on a project that seemed absolutely impossible to achieve. But heck, I took it on anyway. The results of the project are now my pride and joy because I put my mind to it, trusted the people around me to succeed in their parts and most importantly, trusted ME to succeed. I learnt that I am trustworthy and can pull off anything I put my mind to. This enthusiasm is now my weapon and from now on, it will guide me to a million more successes. 

“To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.”

Ah yes, mistakes and beautiful smiles. Let me first reflect on smiles. When I walk in to work every day, the janitors greet me with the most heart-warming smiles and honestly, even on the days I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I am overwhelmed with joy when I see their smiles, so sincere, so peaceful. So now, I smile. A lot. Not just at janitors, but at passersby. You never know whose day you are brightening. 

As for forgetting our mistakes, I have found that most of the mistakes we make are a reason for a good laugh a few months/years down the line, so their impact on my life has diminished almost to nothing. I still make mistakes but now secretly laugh about them in my head just like the future me would, and you know what? It makes all the difference in the world! So after the 1st of March, I will no longer look back at any mistakes with regret, I will laugh at the past 24 years of mistakes and throw them out the window. 

“To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”



This paragraph in particular is what I promise myself to aspire to in this upcoming blank page of my life. I think it starts with walking away from gossip, drama and other criticism-infused environments and stepping in to one that shies away from negativity. I will immerse myself in the development and improvement of ME and consciously avoid people who survive on the criticism of others.

Oh and worry. I have probably worried over the past 2 months more than I have an entire lifetime because of an insignificant pebble that was thrown at me by life. Two days ago, I heard of an acquaintance who has recently been diagnosed with cancer and a friends younger brother who suddenly passed away from a previously non-existent health issue…There are people struggling to make it through the day alive and I have allowed myself to worry uncontrollably about a pebble stone thrown my way? How ridiculous! Does worrying ever change your fate or speed up your recovery or protect you from sadness? Of course not! So, why worry? If life throws something at you from now on, smile and yell “Bring IT!” At least, that is what I plan on doing. 

“To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”




And lastly to think well of myself and proclaim it to the world with good deeds. Such a beautiful, beautiful concept. So, as I enter my 25th year on planet Earth, I promise myself to make an effort to carry out one good deed per day, write it down and save it in a jar. Because what is more affirming of one’s self than a list of good deeds occasionally reminding us of our positive impact on society?

The past 24 years have been a blessing and I affirm that as of today, the next X years will be a new kind of blessing, infused with a sprinkle of wisdom achieved at 25, a pile of love, collected from the beautiful people in my life and an ocean of strength flooding from collected buckets of weakness I have emptied out.  

At 25, I promise me…All the above!