Of all the human drives, the need to create and express has been pounding on my door for a while, and with it has come odd threads, episodes in random times, in which I find myself rambling within my thoughts things I desire to express. Years ago, I would lie awake at night with such profound sentences that were streaming from the fountain of my mind, that I had to rise up, get a legal pad and start pouring pages through my pen until I could sleep. At that time, I often wrote of my husband’s heroic mother who walked from Amman to the West Bank to reclaim the home from which they fled under threat of massacre, crossing the Jordan River under gunfire from Israeli soldiers. Sometimes, I also wrote of my own experiences and impressions as a young American, newly married, woman who ventured into the West Bank town of Abu Dis sans knowledge of Arabic or the Palestinian culture, and witnessed the ill-treatment and frustrations of the noble civilians living under occupation.
Then the well ran dry, and I spent my energies raising children, improving my knowledge of Arabic and Islam, earning a master’s degree, and working full time at my children’s fledging Islamic school; and although I occasionally had a few more spurts of prose in me, I calculated that I had no seriously valued contributions to offer. So I no longer wrote; until recently, a mentor tapped the well to find and encourage my expression. Sharing wisdoms gleaned from life’s experiences, readings, and interpretations, we opened new vistas of growth, and abilities were enhanced through practice. It was very satisfying to not just write as one does for assignments, but to flow in playful expression using the language as an artist uses a palette of colors, textures, and subjects to reveal a treasure conceived and tangibly accessed.
Writers need to write; I’ve given in to the impulse after much reflection, and decided that it is a drive as legitimate as any. Perhaps it should also be viewed as a gift, and in such indulgence there lies hope that value will be derived should anyone else read. To this intent, I commit to title this “It’s a Halal Life,” and will stake claim as a trademarked entity should I compile writing for commercial publication.
The subject of Halal is commonly used in regard to Halal food; however, the essence of the term is to refer to what God has decreed as lawful. The word Halal, in the Holy Qur’an, is also always paired with the term Tayib, which is translated as being good or wholesome. It is my belief that we humans should strive to keep ourselves as pure as possible from sin, to essentially leave this life in a state of purity, as we were when born. Yet, it is unreasonable to think that we can lock ourselves away from the world to maintain isolation in order to be pure. Far from that, we need to be engaged socially with all the worldly issues and work to keep the Earth and its inhabitants protected from harm. In choosing right actions, in requesting God’s forgiveness, and in avoiding harmful deeds and properties, we can gain Purity. So I open the fountain again to whatever my musings bring, and hope that they give guidance and pleasure in honor of the wonderful gifts I have enjoyed in my life. After much travel, I wish to address the experience of Coming Home…
This year has brought business trips to Long Beach, San Diego, and San Francisco in California, as well as, Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. My husband, Riad, and I have a long established export trade company, and recently I have become more immersed in developing it. Although it originated in 1983, I’ve left it dormant until essentially turning it over to Riad in 2000. He has provided sundry goods for clients in Jordan, Saudia Arabia, and some of the Gulf countries, and now we would like to increase suppliers and buyers to expand. It has been a treat to meet some of his suppliers, travel to new places, and have the peace of mind that the years we’d sacrificed working to afford parochial school for our kids has resulted in knowing that they can be safely left at this mature stage on their own to care for our home and not get into trouble. For me, also, has been the resurrection of my golf game, which I put off for some 25 years while raising children and money for our needs. Golf has been a mainstay pastime for my dad and brothers, and I encouraged my husband to adopt it in order to develop rapport with them. So I willingly came back to be bit by the bug, and am missing a round with Riad now so that I can complete this and an editing project for a colleague’s dissertation.
About coming home…it tends to elicit melancholic emotions and thoughts. On the one hand, it’s great to be back in the most comfortable surroundings, one’s own home. Yet, especially if you land at the dark and gloomy, crypt-like United terminal in Chicago, you immediately wish to get back on a plane to anywhere else. Since most flights lately have been on United or American for us, I can readily contrast them with Virgin America. We flew Virgin to San Francisco and were pleased with the experience; and a unique experience is what they give you. From the very cheerful gate personnel playing a boombox of 2010 dance tunes at 6:30 a.m. and pleasantly joking with the bleary-eyed passengers that they cajoled into having a fun attitude, to the mauve lighting tracked along the windows on both sides of the plane, and the most interesting pre-flight instructional video I’ve ever seen, the airline was terrific. My only criticism was that the coffee was more like weak tea. I should have insisted on a re-do, but I was willing to overlook this single weak link in their performance.
Then coming home, while having its place and bringing a settled or landed resolution to the stresses of travel, also yields a sense of depression. For good or bad, you see everything with new eyes. The things that bugged you, bug you more. The people that you wanted to avoid are not easily ditched. You have no excuse to not be present, and you have mountains of bills, emails, and junk mail that need attention. The mess you left behind, in addition to the dust that accumulated in your absence, cries for a clean sweep. And then there is the unpacking…The trivialities of life come charging at you, and you wonder why you feel stressed and swamped? Yet, I attest that I would not trade away the travel joys and memories just because of these inconveniences.
Simply allowing myself to keep at least one post-travel day completely free helps immensely in acclimating to life in the former fast and demanding pace. If you don’t feel like grocery shopping, then find something in the cabinets to eat just to get by for a day. Lolling in bed when the whim arises, especially if jet-lagged, is imperative. Accepting the transition to take time is also advised, as is getting outside for fresh air and insisting on some gentle return to the gym for weightlifting and cardio perks up the inevitable blues that come when coming home. Of course, then you’ll want to plan for a round of golf, as that always brings a happy feeling.
With that, there comes a sense of “what’s next” and iconic memories to relive in many moments coming, perhaps still years later to be enjoyed. That makes every bit of those coming home travails worthwhile, and the hope to do it over and over again.