Saturday, October 01, 2005

Desolation


Posting a blog sometimes feels like a futile activity, sometimes. Periodically we all go through stages in our life where we feel like we are totally and utterly alone, without a soul on this planet to go with us as we run, stagger and lurch through the life with which we are entrusted. Perhaps the greatest fear that man has ever had is to be alone. The fear that drives so many of us to pursue diversion from loneliness. It is said in the Holy Bible that God will never forsake us, He will always be there when we need him. It is true I am sure, yet there is a painfully real fact that God is physically invisible to us. The Angels that we believe to be there share the same invisibility. In the desert the desolation has a tangible feel to it. Whether it be the arid landscape, devoid of palntlife and animals, or just the empty openness that screams out desolation. Today, this is where I feel I am. Tomorrow will be a better place, I am sure.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Nothing worthwhile comes easy..



Is it perhaps that the greatest of words written, are more often than not preceded by neither action nor hard work? Being bombarded by the influences of the "modern and enlightened" society around, us we flounder through the river of life, finding it easier to go with the flow than to struggle with tenacity against the tide of where the rest of humanity is going? Are the most eloquent of scribblings not much more than words thought up to describe ideals,feelings and emotions that are born from a life of ill discipline and an almost thoughtless pursuit of self gratification bordering on depravity? Yearnings, desires, and longings for sometimes what seem to be unattainable, if not pointless dreams? As we move through the life that we have been blessed with, we lose sight of one undisputed truth, nothing worthwhile comes easy. Never has and never will.
We seek moments of self gratification and sell our souls for the moment, living a life entrenched in epicureanism.
Who can honestly say that life has dealt them a bad hand, that we are worse off than someone else? Mostly we base these "whimperings" on materialistic comparisons, emotional shortcomings, a failure to recognize that true lasting happiness can not be measured in levels of momentary self gratification.
The truth is as plain to see as the light when the sun comes up in the morning, with or without our consent. Life, this earthly one at least, is a blessing. We choose what we do with what we have and where we are. Ramblings and insightful words abound in this world of searchers. Maybe its time to realize that the words of a famous pop song "I do not want what I have not got" meant little more than, that we should be satisfied with where we are in life, after all , the choices we have made are the choices that have brought us to where we are now.
We may not choose the width and surface, or condition of the path we walk, but we can choose how to walk this path. We can even choose to walk a different path. Heck we can choose how to dress, what to eat, where to speed up or slow down, where to stop and rest, who to walk close to or who to walk far away from. We can choose to be believers of any Religion or we can choose to be Atheists. All choices, only we can make. Sometimes hard sometimes not. Yet the consequences of bad choices are sometimes hard to swallow, so we seek retribution or understanding as to why we sometimes fall. Blame someone else, look outside of ourselves for the answers, after all, its easier to put the responsibility of suffering the consequence of our own bad decisions on someone else than it is to take a good long hard look in the mirror and realize that whatever the situation may be, we made the choices that led us to this moment. Worthwhile?

Hmmm, it's true you know, like it or not, nothing worthwhile in this world comes easy...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Choices, consequences and acceptance


60 minutes in an hour 24 hours in a day. 7 days in a week. 52 weeks in a year.

Today I need inspiration, I humbly submit the following.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
- Mother Teresa -

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
- Mahatma Gandhi -

"Hold your head high, stick your chest out. You can make it. It gets dark sometimes, but morning comes. ... Keep hope alive."
- Rev. Jesse Jackson -

"Love the moment and the energy of the moment will spread beyond all boundaries."
- Sister Corita Kent -

"Do not wish to be anything except what you are."
- Saint Francis de Sales -

"Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits."
- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen -

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become."
- Buddha -

"Change your thoughts and you change your world."
- Rev. Norman Vincent Peale -

"Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
- Saint Francis of Assisi -

"Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price."
- St. Jerome -

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, nor to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly."
- Buddha -

"Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed."
- Sister Corita Kent -

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, who am I for? And if not now, when?"
- The Talmud -

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Thank you for the flowers...



Ok, so this is unheard of, Why? Because it has not happened before that I have had the time or inclination for that matter, to actually post two entry's on the same day. But maybe its a sign of things to come? I don't know, maybe I am just filled with the joys of life and want to share today more than other days. (Must be the run this morning! Haha!)

Well not to harp on and on about the change of pace blah blah of my previous post, I wanted to add a bit of, not often seen on my site before, sensitivity.

Over the past two years I have experienced, as I am sure all of us have at one time or another, my fair share of ummm...lets term them for purposes of keeping to the point I want to make and not to get diverted into a different direction, "stressful situations" These "stressful situations" may be determined in periods of time that we live through, and they may last for minutes, hours, weeks, months and for those of us who really have really bad luck, karma or breath (just kidding about the breath!) even years. Ok, more to the point. Through whatever is causing these "stressful situations" we sometimes experience or come across moments of "comfort or distraction." Moments that take our mind off the drama at hand so to speak. These moments don't necessarily solve or change the "stressful situations" but more than often give us just enough respite to gather our wits, take a deep breath, and plunge, hopefully with more strength and determination, back into the quagmire of whatever it is that is causing the "stressful situation"

Lets face it, moments of comfort or distraction can be interpreted in many different ways. So for the record, I'm not referring to moments which involve any carnal or criminal activities, or activities which involve copious amounts of alcohol or illicit, mind altering substances. Get the picture?
The essence of what I'm trying to get at is that these "comfort moments" can be in the form of someone paying you a sincere, simple, valid compliment. For example, " My your hair looks lovely today!" or "Thanks so much for your help with that problem I was having, what you did really made a difference!" Sometimes we see, hear, taste or feel something that brings a smile to our lips, or something that just makes us feel better. Sometimes its something so simple and because of its simplicity, is overlooked as unimportant...and the moment is lost.
Life is full of these moments, just keep your eyes and ears open, look & listen, they happen to you every day.

Here, in a city in the middle of the desert, we dont see much of natures fauna and flora. So maybe thats why it made such an impact on me when I saw these flowers this morning on my run. So much so that I had to stop and take a photo. These flowers (I have no idea what flowers they are and all I know is that they are seasonal, and will only bloom for a few weeks) are here every day. In a city where so many people go about their daily routines, chasing whatever they are chasing, only a handful will actually stop and see the flowers. For those that dont, their loss.

My life has been filled with moments like these, whether they were flowers I have seen, kind words I have heard spoken, and sometimes I regret to admit, I have completely missed, or taken them for granted. This morning I did not.

God. Thank you for the moments, thank you for the flowers.

A change in pace


So there I was, 5;46 am, wide eyed and awake, sleep having abruptly left, with no sign of coming back, I realized the price to pay I suppose for going to sleep before midnight, not just to bed, but actually asleep.
For the first time in a really long time, at least six months, I lay awake listening to the gentle droning of the AC, and watched as the dawn light sneaked into the room, almost as if it had been waiting patiently through the night, to finally ambush the darkness. Hah, this was great!
Before my system could come up with any valid (or invalid) excuse for not getting out of bed, I was on my feet and pulling on my Reeboks. What!? My good as new, 6 month old Reeboks, purchased with the intention of going running each morning, that had only been worn twice, and on both occasions, no running was involved!?
5;59am, and I'm out the door, hair disheveled, bleary eyed, camera in hand and a fat grin on my face. I was doing it! Eventually I was going for a run. The last time I had been for a run was at the US Embassy compound, Basra, Iraq. And now finally I had gotten my act together, and was going to get my unfit backside into shape! As the door shut, I could almost hear deafening silence of the dawn ambushing the dark back in the apartment. Today, I would lay my own little ambush, I would beat the sun up!

For the past two weeks I have not blogged, who cares I thought, who reads the "crap" that filters from mind into cyberspace about my life experiences anyway? Then it dawned on me, that the reason for me blogging was not for anyone else, but for myself. My record, my ambling through the corridors of my mind, and taking the time to log memories. No coalition needed, just record of what happened, happens and maybe if I'm bold enough some day, thoughts and plans of what I would like to happen.

Life's routines take on a mundane pace if we don't change the way we do things. Today I chose to change one thing. Yep, that's it, today I choose, a change in pace. I did run this morning, ok, and walked some, and while my body cried my Reeboks sang!

Later on at the office, whilst downloading mail, I was browsing for info for a project I'm working on, and stumbled across ,this interesting site, and thought what the heck, let me see if I have any claim to intelligence! I won't share the results, but I do feel more intelligent now, for what its worth, Hahaha! Give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised! I was.

The picture above? Me, beating the sun up, on the corniche. Mission accomplished! Yup. I like how I feel today.
All because of a change in pace!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The cost of freedom



The cost of freedom

Many words on war have been offered, the times we live in demand this. Our existence today justifies the art of war. Super powers gamble freely with human life, and justify, the cost of freedom.

Today I start my conditioning, my desensitizing, as it were, to the reality of where I am going. Like all the others, it is common to become familiar with the truth, and then disregard and discard it. The acknowledgement of the reality, is not conducive to good business conduct. Focus on the project. Chase the money. Get on, and out with your life, if you can.


MFP, U.A.E.-April 2004-04-17

I wrote these words last year 17th April, two weeks before transferring to Iraq on a project contract. I had no idea what was waiting for me in Baghdad. Only what CNN had kindly broadcasted for the world to see, and feedback from our IT staff who were already deployed in Iraq. It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet at the same time, it seems like it was only yesterday...
This photo depicts the first time in my life I stood in the aftermath of a pre-invasion bombing. In what is known today as the "Greenzone" in Baghdad, US military intelligence had identified one of Saddams palaces as a strategic target.On 27th March 2003, it took two precision strikes to reduce a once magnificent structure to rubble. We were told that no one was killed in the airstrike. It turned out that the strike was more significant than was expected at the time. In the early 1980's, Saddam commissioned a Specialist German Engineering company,Boswau & Knauer, to build an underground bunker below the palace. After the strike, ground forces accidentally came across the bunker, 4 levels deep. This bunker could provide complete self sustaining and safe billeting for up to 50 personnel.
Official Pentagon sources said a U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber dropped two 4,500-pound GBU-37 ,"bunker-buster" bombs on a target located on the east bank of the Tigris River in downtown Baghdad.

The palace was almost completely destroyed, the bunker did not even have a crack in the almost two meter thick ceilings.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Words

In the course of our day to day lives, we use them, take them for granted, abuse them, swallow them, love them, loathe them, take them or leave them.
Are they not the most wonderful and the most terrible things that we have at our disposal? Words. Words can start wars or end them. They can build or cause destruction. They can make someone's day, or ruin somebody's life. Words. Be careful how you use them. Once written or spoken, they can never be taken back, they will be used as reference and record to and for the the one that has used them, until the end of time.

Not for nothing has it been said that "The pen is mightier than the sword."

Words...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Jihad


In the wake of the the latest spate of suicide bombings in London, Egypt and Turkey, I sit here in the UAE and contemplate the reasoning and justification for these inhumane acts committed by fundamentalist groups. Fanatics who so eagerly claim responsibility for these atrocities. Last year whilst working in Iraq, the reasoning for suicide bombings seemed more clear, at least at the time. Rid the Nation of Iraq from the "invading Coalition forces" or infidels if you like. We may debate the precise meaning of the word infidel, but as far as the Websters dictionary is concerned the word infidel is defined as,"A person who does not acknowledge your God"

As any non Muslim is seen as an infidel, and the concept of "Jihad" literally interpreted means,"A holy war waged by Muslims against unbelievers or infidels"
some may consider the interpretation to mean a holy struggle or striving by a Muslim for a moral or spiritual or political goal. Well this concept is nothing new. Christians wage war for similar reasons. War is waged under the pretext of so many "righteous" reasons by so many different nations. And when war is waged, people die.
With this in mind, I consider the reality that I have not yet recently heard of any Christian or any other non-Muslim religious fanatic, strap explosives to to his or her body and walk into a crowded public place to detonate and violently end the lives of whoever may be in the immediate vicinity. Indiscriminately killing whoever may be unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
These Islamic fundamentalists, in my opinion, have no clue of the meaning of "Jihad." Why? Whether in Iraq, London, Egypt, Turkey or wherever they ply their heinous acts, they kill indiscriminately. They do not target the infidel, they do not target anyone, they just "push the button" and hope to kill as many as possible, even if it means killing their own. In Iraq Muslim fundamentalists kill Muslims, then attempt justification by killing a few "infidels" in the process. This is not the definition of "Jihad," or not at least what I understand it to be. In the London bombings earlier this month, "Jihad" can not be used as a reasoning either. The united Kingdom is a predominantly Christian Nation, yet it opens its borders to any Nationality of any religious persuasion based on the principle of tolerance. The same principle which allows these Islamic fundamentalists into the country in the first place.
Here in the UAE there has been no suicide bombings, yet. A friend sent me a link to a news item that came as a wake up call.Safe in the UAE?

There is no doubt in my mind that Islam is rising, but I shudder to think of the misinterpretations that are synonymous with this rise. As a non Muslim living in the UAE, I have learnt through experience to be frugal with my opinions regarding the Islamic faith. I have worked with Muslim people for almost two years and have the utmost respect and have gained mutual respect of all of the true Muslims I have worked with. I will however never respect or agree with any fundamentalist mentality, Muslim or non Muslim, which condones any form of indiscriminate murder. No matter what religion, ideology or principle may be used as justification. My religion teaches me that GOD not man or religion is Judge of all humanity. Only GOD.
What then of "Jihad?" Who decides by virtue of which GOD I serve and believe in, whether or not I have the right to live or die? Again I have the belief that only GOD carries that responsibility, and that no human on this planet has the right to be so arrogant as to be a self proclaimed Judge on whether or not I am permitted to live or die, based on which GOD I believe in. Jihad? Did the Christian powers not have the same philosophy in the 13th century? Remember the Crusades?

Jihad? Crusade? I don't like either philosophy, not when the "cause" seems to be pursued with so much synonymy to arrogance.