Saturday, April 10, 2010

Analyzing it all...(It's a pessimist's view!)

So the time has come...
It was a forced effort to start this entry, mainly because I couldn't contemplate the prospect of staying with my eyes wide open staring at the ceiling. I thought to myself "You've been procrastinating for so long! You promised to blog about the experience of being in Canada! It's been almost five months for God's sake!" But the moment never seamed right, and the itching sensation never came. It's only my fear of my wandering mind that drove me to the keyboard, and I don't like that, but that's the way it is.
So, what should I say? I've paid my respects to many people who were absolutely wonderful, and more people came along who deserve to be mentioned, and for them I'll dedicate a separate entry. But the point here is to sum up the experience, then dissect it into little pieces that relate to different themes, and the words that could sum up the experience are wonder, loneliness, pain, distraction, and focus.
They say that you can find seven benefits in travel, and I'll try to count what I think was beneficial for me, because these would constitute the wonderful things that I could find here. I've met new friends, wonderful friends. I've learned that I can count on myself in many things and can survive on my own if need calls. I've learned to talk a foreign language without trying to pass my thoughts through a "mental translator." I've seen new places, and wonderful places. I've learned how much I'm missed by my family and friends. I've gained very valuable academic exposure to the latest in my field of study, and hope to be even more exposed to more valuable knowledge if time allows me to. But the most important thing I've learned is how disillusioned I found myself to be; I'm not wide-eyed with awe of a new country and a new culture, the American movies made an excellent job making almost every aspect of north-American life well-understood. I don't see the society here as a Utopia; I see it as a country with its pros and cons. My home country also has its pros and cons, although many people would disagree and even be appalled at the mere idea of saying that the two countries are comparable :D Well, I'm not saying they are, but I still love my country and want to go back and try to do good.
The first night I stayed here I was hit with a sense of abstraction that I cannot really describe, it's as if I was hovering in the air with an empty gut; a sick feeling I get sometimes when I wake up in the morning and see the ten o'clock sun, and I'm not a morning person, so I hate the ten o'clock sun of a working day! I don't know how to describe this feeling, but it was as if I wasn't there, and someone else has taken this giant leap. Was I really in a time zone different than me 24 hours ago? Have I moved back in time and just added a couple of hours to my time on this earth?! I couldn't tell, but the creeks of wood were making me feel warm yet getting on my nerves! I kept looking outside and saying "What have you done you stupid $%##&! What exactly do you hope to do here? Work? Run away? Take a time off?" The answers to all three exclamations is still to be fully determined, but they're still looming over my head waiting for their fulfillment.
The next day to my arrival was a Sunday, so I couldn't go to the school and meet anyone. I took a small map, and took off, wandering in the streets of the city expecting to see a downtown bustling with people and action, but it was a quiet and easy-going downtown. After three hours of walking all over the place, I was hit with a lonely feeling that I've never experienced before. It wasn't a nice thing, and it made me wonder, how can a person be lonely all his or her life? Without anyone to lean on or seek comfort from?! It was a depressing thought in a depressing day, and it took all the possible joys my mind tried to conjure!
When my supervisor saluted me in Arabic the next day, I was ecstatic, and a sense of safety calmed me and made me feel that I'll be ok, that I can still be strong and get something out of the grayness that seamed to color my coming here. I considered work my sanctuary, and thought to myself "There's the one thing you have to do, and you have to do right. Run away all you want, take a time off as much as you want, but the bottom line is your work, so do it right!"
Then came the pain, as I sobered up and began to realize that I'm not "there" while not completely feeling that I'm "here." I walk down the streets and see that I'm in a completely different place, and yet it doesn't set in! It doesn't relate to the fact that almost all the lab members are Arabs, it's something different, as if I'm in a surreal dream or something! Although I saw the snow for the first time, I still couldn't grasp the fact that I'm here. I felt I was going crazy! I thought I'd be in awe of the place, it's a new place with this historic aura that I love, but my mind still couldn't make the connection. I was struggling within myself to find any possible joy, but the only joy I could find was while hanging out with the people I've met, and I lost the drive to explore and see the beauty in my surroundings. It was really a bad sign that my days and nights are turning into hell, and they did! I felt no desire to go and do things, and it was painful to even breath! Then I began to analyze this, and it came down to two simple facts; you can't enjoy a paradise alone, let alone a nice town, and you can't truly enjoy a paradise without a soul mate, may that be a true friend or a true love. Some people can do things by themselves and be content, I don't find this ability in me anymore. I thought I could pass as a loner, a free spirit, but every time I found myself alone with my thoughts I felt that they were coming out of my head, materializing into a creepy monster that wants to swallow me! It was so potent a feeling that I'd jump up and run!
Sometimes I blamed myself for not being able to find the good sides of my stay here, but hard as I tried to put myself in a positive mindset, it worked for a short time and then I'd go back to square one (or more befitting, square zero!) So I kept myself busy as much as I could, with friends, at the lab, in the streets, whatever was available. I thought it was pitiful of me to be this dependent on external parameters to distract me instead of resurrecting my internal power; the power I always prided myself on being able to bring to life at the time of crisis, and this was a crisis indeed; because I became obsessed with trying to figure out what's wrong (besides the personal issues that I had to deal with!) Why am I not doing things right? No work is done, no joy is felt, no fun is planned, even when I began playing the piano, it didn't make me jump up and down, because I kept thinking about how daunting it is to learn everything in a short time.
The closer I got to becoming crazy, the more I cried, the more I became anxious, the more I performed poorly, the more depressed I felt, the more I annoyed people around me with my pathetic depressing mood swings! I prayed to God that it stops, that he gives me the power to cut through this vicious circle that's completely unjustified in my opinion. The solution was to regain the focus: "What is it exactly that you want to do?" It came down to one basic point: you have to do your work the right way. Friends, fun, and piano are the helping environment, not the goal. They're the wonderful parameters that keep you somewhat sane and functioning, but they shouldn't be the point. I've been obsessed with analyzing people and dynamics around me, and with thinking about leisure as if this was a trip or something, and with being a new Mozart. These things are great, but they're not why I came here. I came here to do a specific job, and go back to people that I shouldn't forget, and an ambition that I shouldn't give up, and a life of loneliness that I should really start to adapt myself to.
Admittedly, the focus stage is still jumping back and forth at the back of my mind, but I'm hoping that it'll come around once these extreme feelings of everything around start to wane. Hopefully soon, I'll begin to deploy this focus stage with full force, because God know I need to wake up and realize I'm not in a dream!
I hope the upcoming entries will be promising and not as gloomy!


Ghada said...

Dear Dr.Mervat;
at first i should be thankful to you sharing your live experience with your friends, students and readers...

I may have an opinion after i read about your feelings... the main problem is that you take your life as a one piece or as being in one package...
I know you as a master of detachment.. I think to enjoy these two years you should detach them from all your life and treat them as an extraordinary journey which you should enjoy whatever the price is... I know you can't stop your mind of spinning, analyzing, attaching matters and thinking about them... but try to think as a mature 6 years girl... YES.. I mean it... mature because you already have experiences and you are truly mature..and 6 years because this is the age when we begin to realize things and events around us, it is about purity and being free- spirited...

look out from the window as if you are a morning person, no matter what you were here in home country...

hang out as if you are a girl in the secondary school, when we were in the secondary school we were aspiring for a free hang out with no one, to feel responsible and independent...
deal with these two years as they have no relation with your past life, they will affect your coming life... but don't look behind or take any feeling from the past with you...take only what you need to survive...

I wish you the best ever in your life, because truely you deserve it :)

T. Hassouna said...

forgive me for being aggressive
but you really diappointed me
i thought that you are the one
but with every line i read you swing your right fist and punch my face and with your left you make my stomach kiss my v.column
and then you say hey idiot wake up
i'm just like everyone else

you wasn't forced , you made your choice after a long period of search
, analysis and mind blowing as i know and now you are saying that!!

by this sure you don't know how it is wonderful to a make your own choice even for once and you didn't feel how bitter it is to be forced in every sigle act in your life

believe me you left the train of loosers and got on the board of the right train

and it's so easy to get back to loosers train as it doesn't move

it's more difficult to be alone in your home with all your people around you but don't see you than being temporary alone abroad and everybody in home waiting to see you

please don't be ungrateful

i'm sorry for my shitty talk and for my weak english
(bs bgad za33alteny awy leh kda bs)

wkhashoggi said...

I want your next blog to be optimistic :) don't worry this is the winter blues it can attack quick here in Canada wait for the spring and you'll be much better sweetheart! and you know you are not alone in this we all can't survive alone but what you need to be sure of is that we are always here for you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mervat Fahmy said...

@ WKhashoggi, Thank you dear for your continuous promise of the beautiful spring :)) We'll have tons of fun and forget about all the white, gray, and blues :))
@ Tareq, I replied to you in a private email, but don't assume that I know nothing of being alone even at your own home. One day you'll understand what I mean, and I hope when that day comes you'll be able to manage things and perform well. I know I am doing my best and not surrendering to the loneliness. I'm not ungrateful, because every single day I pray to God and kneel in front of him in deep thanks of all the good things that I do have, but it doesn't mean that I'm an angel, because I do want more, but what I ask for is more patience, more faith, more tolerance, and more brightness in my life.
@ Ghada, I could do this detachment thing, as you said, I was a master at this art, but I don't want to live life in chunks anymore, I want to study my past, and sum it up in lessons, and apply these lessons to the present tense. It is hard, and opening up the wounds and baring the soul is painful, but acknowledging your vulnerabilities is the shortest path to getting rid of them and fortifying yourself again. You can't go back in time, you can only go forward, but with that journey, it is true that I should be light, and writing it down makes it trivial and simple to handle for me :))

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