Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Out! I want out of Doha!" I said. "Let's go and drive and see what we find," I continued, knowing that without a destination, what we would probably find would consist of long stretches of highway, sand and rubble, and more sand and rubble. No matter. I needed out of the city. I was feeling closed in, annoyed with the constant traffic noise, in need of space, peace, clarity.

And so we went.

We drove and drove, listening to Craig Cardiff, Amy Seeley, Great Lake Swimmers, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, Hey Rosetta... you get the picture. It was just what I needed. A long, empty road, and time to let my mind wander.

I thought back over those first few months in Doha. All the worry, all the adjustments. I thought about how the hardest part all along has simply been going back to full-time work after months of just-barely-part-time. Long, slow mornings are a thing of the distant past. Lunches need to be made, little girls tucked into bed, classes prepped, house tidied, all with a looming bedtime deadline of 10pm. Where is this mamma bear supposed to find a space of her own, to claim and to inhabit?

I thought about the continuing time crunch. The get-up, get-showered, get-ready, never-mind-getting-Kaiya-ready for the day... cut to classes, meetings, madly prepping, and oh, could I please find a few moments to just shoot the breeze with my colleagues before rushing out at 2:45 to pick up Kaiya?

My need for space and solitude has become clear.

But something shifted on Saturday. I had low expectations of our little trip. We ended up at the northern tip of Qatar, Madinat Al Shamal. As we drove through the ever-so-quiet town, I had to wonder where on earth all the people were. There were beautiful homes, but it was eerily quiet. Well, except for the stray cats doing the wild thing in the middle of the road. We headed out to the beach and decided to just walk. And as we walked, weights and burdens and worries simply started to slip away.

I think it was the fresh sea air. It smelled different up there. And the blue sky was, yes, bluer. And the din of traffic was simply absent. We came across some tents and some friendly folk going out to sea, but otherwise, it was just us three.

It is hard to explain the mystery of these moments. I am thankful that I had the mindfulness that day to look around, look up, and just breathe. Breathe and let the rest go. And thank God for the renewed clarity. I could see, on that day, the amazing opportunities we have been given here, the fantastic education Kaiya is receiving, the love of family and friends both in Canada and Qatar supporting us. I could also feel the hope. That yes, I will find more time to do the things I love: meet and connect with people, practice yoga, cook good food for my family, and write.

I also had, and have, a sense that I am being taken care of. My questions, doubts and fears... they are being held in someone else's greater hands.

Jeff got it too. And when I later saw his pictures of that day, I was startled by our connection.

I feel ready. Ready for the road that lies ahead. Not in the crazy, fun, day-tripping sort of way, or in the make-a-ton-of-money-and-then-book-it-out-of-here kind of way, but in the let's-sink-deep-into-this- experience-and-see-where-it-takes-us kind of way. Ultimately, I think I can't have it any other way. Because if our lives in Canada are rich with relationships and connections, then this desert life must also become rich. Because otherwise, I just won't stay.

But somehow I think I will stay. Because I kind of believe you usually find what you're looking for.


lovetolaugh said...

What a great post. I loved seeing you walking and processing as I read what you wrote.

Way to fight for what you need and making it happen.

I love you.

Suzanne said...

Wow. Rich, breathe and let the rest go, connect, let's-sink-deep-into-this- experience-and-see-where-it-takes-us kind of way. Thanks for the reminders.

Erika said...

very true:
"be still and know that i am God"

Tracie said...

Lovely. It was rest and reflection just to read this post.

happy sinking in friend,

kooki said...

You might not believe it but you totally rock the desert! I highly recommend making eye contact with the ocean once a week. I don't manage it every week but the weeks I do are sublimely better for it. Something about the very distant horizon keeps my thoughts and attitudes from being penned in by whatever is around me, whether that's high rises or children.

James said...

Jeff! It's great to see your flavor and ideas and creativity in this post. Even though you didn't write a word, all those pictures are communicating something amazing and wonderful to us all. Thanks for that.

mariaborito said...

Thank you Kathy and Jeff for reminding us to venture both into the unknown and then once there, to really pull back and find the dessert, quite spaces. To let it all sink in. It is a lot for goodness sake!
I remember you doing this a lot in Japan.