Why do you work?

February 19, 2018 § Leave a comment

(For the privileged first-world members who wouldn’t be hungry without work)

This question popped up while I ate brunch at a café earlier today. I took my lunch break earlier than usual, at 12.20pm to have a croissant I’d been craving all morning.

And then it hit me. I don’t eat here every day, and I no longer spend my money here and there as I so often did during university.

When I was studying for my bachelor’s, I made up for the lack of sleep by indulging in the habit of ‘treating myself’ on the regular – it worked. The morale was, “I deserved this because I did that.”

But I knew that university was a passing time – a temporary, fleeting, period of my life.

I followed the plan as everyone did to be a sufficient member of society: a university graduate, a normal, educated, ‘adult’ who is now suitable for corporate jobs and marriage, and somehow, raising children.

But would I be doing this all my life, until retirement?

Will I live to work, or will my life be some work and more living?

Or is my life my job?

Does it necessarily have to be a negative thing if I see my co-workers more than my family, who I currently live with?

At once, while writing, at a café, as I so often did, it hit me: why do I work?

I do not work for money at the time being. More than half of my salary is spent on my commute to work, on the car I got to get to work, the course I study for my career, and on the food I eat while I’m at work.

At the end of the month, there is not much to save. Does that mean I live for work? How come I’m not unhappy as some of my peers, or my friends, who also work? Why is work a negative term?

I do not live for work. Essentially, I live to learn. Banality and tedious, bland, colourless conversations or books do not entice me. If there is nothing to learn, what is the point?

So why do I work?

To learn.

Perhaps, this is why I am not afraid; I am not sad; I am not disappointed. And I do not feel my time fleeting in nothingness.

I see my work. My portfolio is growing. I am learning.

I am making mistakes, experiencing life, and for now, this is good.

Perhaps society’s greatest fear and shared experience is to live for the weekend, which we’ve so often fallen into since our youth: to wait for the summer vacation, for the holidays, for the leave-days, for the weekend.

To live a double life: one at the office, and one with friends.

Many of us live for money and consumption. In essence, that is living to spend, and in many cases, it is to work a full month to live short spans of little pleasure.

And what’s the point of having money to consume? To live for the latest technology and the latest fashion, or to forget our misery by drinking and passing out?

To exist as a consumer, rather than take part of a larger experience?

To do mandatory work instead of meaningful work, even if it were a corporate job?

Your time is valuable.

Make your own choices.

Live, learn, and be weary of settling in exchange of your life.

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2018

January 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

It is the New Year, evidently by the celebrations worldwide in clubs and on the internet, in the desert and on public streets. Perhaps it is fate that I write this now, quite appropriately on the 1st of January than on any other day, and that these thoughts washed on my shore by the end of 2017, than on any other time throughout the year.

Unlike two years earlier, during this time, I am excited. I am excited and not in the fairy-tale sense of this year being a treasure chest to open holding seated opportunities. I have the excitement of a child and a student who has the parent or the teacher to guide and support them (luckily).

I almost suddenly yet gradually developed the will to have faith in myself and I truly believe that this is thanks to one main person in my life, along with many others. I do not think that when I secluded myself, as comforting as it was, that it was the best thing to do, or even the most productive way to go about life – to each their own, after all. Some work better alone, most work better with support – yet it is important to remember while mentioning this anecdote that we ought to remain dependent on ourselves.

This is not to say that you should never depend on your partner, or your best friend, or your family. There will come times when your knees will tremble and you will need someone to carry you – quite literally – and those important to you will be there, and you can depend on them and trust them fully to hold you. Despite this, we need to remain our own person, to continue thinking and sharing these thoughts, to work on our skills, to live and discover without creating the barriers we so often create for ourselves (and I am guilty).

I have missed out on many ‘good times’ because I simply stayed home.

I no longer want to remain tied this year by invisible walls I’ve created by myself (with some help from the society, etc). I want to be the person I imagine to be, I want to be proud of myself, and not only for some moments, and not only for a few bits of the past, but for the goals I have for the future, and the small cumulative efforts I put towards achieving these goals.

These goals are not necessarily capitalistic-driven. They can be as simple as spending 30 mins a day alone, thinking, in open air. They can be challenging yourself at work. They can be smiling at every passerby. They can be saying good morning to that one person at work you don’t really think replies to anyone’s good-mornings.

I did not intend to write this because it is the new year, nor do I support those who say the new year ‘feels’ are overrated (because, let’s face it, it’s much better seeing cringe-worthy and happy uplifting tweets than others).

This is a simple happy post of a hopeful and optimistic person. Maybe when I’m not feeling so well, I can come back and read this (and you too, reader) and somehow feel slightly better.

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On pseudo-intellectuals,

December 19, 2016 § 2 Comments

I haven’t written something that is in article-form (for recreational purposes) in a while. I often write short anecdotes on life, or spaced sentences (poetry) or just attempts of personal reflection. Yet, I find it in me now to write something that is beyond a tweet or three, or even just a paragraph. Therefore, the following paragraphs or thoughts may not go about in an organised manner, and will have no sources.

I am in my last year of studying English Literature and Translation (at the bachelor’s level) and my appreciation for written words has decreased, quite ironically and even surprisingly. That is, of course, not to say that I appreciate celebrated international, and even timeless, works any less than before – I appreciate them a lot more – but simply saying things, or writing things in a proper manner no longer excites me or leaves me impressed. Instead, it leaves me feeling sometimes sorry for the person writing.

Anyone with proper training or just experience can write a good sentence. The degree to the fluency of the sentence differs from one writer to the other, and of course that ‘difference’ is what distinguishes a good writer from the rest. What I have been observing over the years, and I am in no position to generalise this (because my readings are limited and I do not find myself to be in such authority) is that many people often think that writing full sentences coins them as intelligent or of high intellectual status. For example, if someone were to write Facebook statuses in formal English – by not using slang terms or emojis, or even missing any full stops – then they are someone that is ‘intelligent’. Similarly, because someone simply writes a long post then they must be right. But that is another topic for another day.

Many of the general Arab community view speech that is bombarded with complex words an intellectual one, although the very purpose of language is to communicate, and if one were to aimlessly throw around complex words, then they are defying the very purpose of language. If one were to write an academic paper, or to speak to someone from their field, then they are free to use as many technical words as they wish. But using the same words to the public is useless; they would not be understood. Ironically, some of the people who agree with me on this, would also quote famous intellectuals – be it Machiavelli, Tolstoy, or Sartre – going as far as idolizing them, and presenting their views on to you as though they are divine. This, again, goes against (my view on) intellectualism. Anyone can read Tolstoy and quote him. Anyone can read a few pages of Sartre’s essays and act like a professional in the field of existentialism – going for sometimes hours – and passionately defending what they believe to be their view, despite it being Sartre’s views.

The great thing about ‘intellectual’ conversations – compared to others – is that they jump the further step into questioning and sharing the information at hand. To say, “I have read about this enough to speak of it” or “I have a degree” and even “I interviewed the best” is hypocritical. It is all well and good to say this – of course a degree offers one with a lot of authority on the matter – yet denouncing the second party’s opinion or ideas – given that the topic is not scientific (although science is based on questioning everything) – defies the very purpose of the conversation, given that the party’s intention is to learn and share valuable information rather than debate out of the ‘intellectual’ conversation. The hypocritical stance taken here by the pseudo-intellectual is speaking of values (that are actually others’) that they do not act upon.

Any student who speaks well, or writes in proper English, or memorises a few words from the dictionary and reads a book about Plato can win a debating competition. However, to have a genuine conversation that goes two-ways (a student to student rather than a teacher to student) must be one where both parties remain humble. Simply put, acting ‘civilised’ by speaking formally does not mean one is actually more civilised than the other. An easy example, which is common amongst Arabs, is that speaking English in a ‘local’ American or British accent often classifies this person as more educated than the one who speaks in an Egyptian or Jordanian accent –or even no English at all– although this is not the case.

The pseudo-intellectual say they speak for the people whilst covering themselves with a coat of fancy words to sound authentic. Yet, ‘actual’ leaders use simple and emotional speech to reach out to the masses. One of the situations that made me feel ‘sorry’ for someone is when Umm Kulthoum and Abdel Halim were mentioned – celebrated Egyptian singers as well as two of the “Great Four” – and the person looked at me and condescendingly said, “Oh, you probably don’t listen to them.” For some unspoken reason, it is a shared view amongst Egyptians that those who listen to dead artists have ‘high’ taste in music, and are therefore considered ‘classy’. Don’t take me wrong, my father and I discuss and rejoice in Abdel Wahab’s music at least once a week. But simply because I enjoy listening to an already celebrated artist, or in some cases an underground artist, does not mean that I am more ‘classy’ or even smarter than someone else. To enjoy going to galleries and to appreciate art and paintings does not mean that I am more deserving of respect than someone else. To enjoy certain mediums of entertainment does not mean I am better; it is simply a preference.

Perhaps this is the point of this ‘article’ or these paragraphs: it is that simply doing things that are viewed as intellectual does not make one an intellectual. I obviously, as aforementioned, do not have the authority to say who and who is not an intellectual, yet the purpose of this writing is not to define what an intellectual is, rather what an intellectual is not. It is noble to read, and speak well, yet the purpose of these readings and speech must be genuine (if even to defeat an enemy) rather than to simply ‘show off’, or act as an entrance ticket to a certain ‘type’ of group that is scarce in the community. I’d even go as far as terming the pseudo-intellectuals as the nouveau riche of the intellectual community. Simply put, it must be quite tough to abstain from ‘bad’ art because it does not fit into someone’s perception of how an intellectual must act and be.

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Seashells: To Fling Or Not To Fling

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hum of Sihinaya

Memories are sneaky little things. They creep up on you when you’re not noticing, then WHAM!You suddenly find yourself drowning in waves of painful, bitter, beautiful, melancholic nostalgia. It’s not like as if you always intentionally recall these memories anyways. Well, at least I don’t. Sometimes, I’d just go about with my day-to-day business, with say, my earphones plugged in. My playlist on shuffle. One jam ends. Another comes on. Or so I think it does. But actually, it doesn’t. Instead, what is randomly selected next isn’t just some song. It’s a trigger. And before I can press pause, the trigger is pulled and a bullet from the past hits me right in the heart. At times, it’d hurt. This is where memories cheekily come into play, in the midst of this pain. They’d sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks. They, no, I… I can’t…

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a short welcome

August 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s finally quiet enough for me to flood paper with ink. The weather is clear and above me flows a sky that resembles sea water flowing through a filtration tube. The people walking during the current stillness of the day appear relatively large, as though actors glaring from a billboard. The air is damp, though not more than my nose. I think I’m going to get sick. I see the reflection of a toy on the ground as though its surface were a new mirror. It fascinates me how such shine and cleanliness translates to gratitude from surfaces.

Writers like to write at ease, sometimes stress, often in a mode of a complete overflow of emotions. Yet I, not a writer, am writing whilst not having slept until the sun’s rise – supposedly exhausted after a long day and night, then day, though as of this moment I am all else simply lost in this so called act of ‘writing’. It soothes me to attempt to write about writing because one is often, more than not, compelled to speak or discuss or even participate in that which they are familiar with. I have taken a deep familiarity with writing. These feelings aren’t deemed mutual, however. Writing has abandoned me. Or perhaps I have abandoned him. Writing, if it were to take the form of a sex, is male to me. Because I am in some ways in love with writing.

This is the first time I write in months – this way, in such a format – during such a place and time. It was unaccounted for and untied by deadlines or obligations. It knocked, and I responded. I can see the sun. It looks like the inside of an egg – and I needn’t mention the standard name because if anyone were to read this, they’d know what I’m talking about. You know. I like it when I don’t feel obliged to explain things. Like this.

I am simply glad this happened. After a long wait, you’ve been missed, fellow voice.

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