April 30th, 2017

I believe I have gathered enough “life lessons” to write a decent inspiring post.

I would like to begin by telling you that no matter how tough the obstacles you’re facing might seem, and no matter how impossible you think life’s being at the moment, it’s important to remember that time always makes things better. When you give things time, without trying to interfere every now-and-then, things eventually get better. Time offers people the chance to look back on whatever has happened. For example, if two friends had an argument, the logical thing to do would be for one of them to apologize. The problem in many cases is that none of the people involved in the argument accepts to admit that s/he is wrong. However, if this is the case, I suggest that each person gives things some time, because the others would still he enraged, and having a discussion with someone who’s mad never goes far. Give the others 2-3 days to calm down (and don’t bring up the subject before then), and that is when you can try to fix things. Time heals.

Another thing I would like to talk about is learning to not be selfish. And by that I don’t mean selfish as in not giving others anything, but as wanting your favorite people only to yourself. Let me elaborate because I am haunted the most by that bad trait. My best friend and I talk every day, and I introduced that friend to my other friends and I was completely cool. But with the years, I started feeling like my best friend and my other friends clicked so well and I had no place in my best friend’s life anymore (yes, maybe I’m overdramatizing it). The sad part is that I started blaming myself for introducing my best friend to other people! The thing I want to tell you is that people can’t be yours. We would love it if they could, but they can’t. And perhaps it’s all in your head. I’m pretty sure your best friends love you a lot (and I do mean a lot) but you have to give them their space! I know it hurts to see your best friend and other friends bonding so well, when you know it’s what you and your best friend always had, but that’s life, and you can’t really stop it. It definitely hurts, and I get it, but you can’t go up to the person and say “hey, no talking to anybody else but me.” 

The last “lesson” I want to mention goes as follows: 

Never, ever, under any circumstances, think that everyone is better than you are. Certainly there are people who are smarter, prettier, or funnier than you are but that doesn’t mean that everyone is better than you are. I am 100% sure that you are extraordinary, that you have a gift the people who are prettier/smarter/funnier would die to have! You are incredible just the way you are, and somewhere out there is someone who will think that you are nothing less than phenomenal. 

That was it for this post, and I would like to tell all the fellow readers out there that  yes, I do talk to you like I’ve had my entire life figured out, but in reality I don’t. Obviously. But these are things you are taught and things you learn every day of your life, and spreading morals and life lessons is actually a good way to grow and turn to the better. Never settle for less than what you deserve, learn to live and be happy even if it takes time, give without taking, love unconditionally, forgive the haters, forgive your mistakes, and keep blogging. 

The Wiseman

“What is happiness?” 

I replied with a grin, “Happiness is when you make other people smile. Actually, it’s when you see them smiling and enjoy it, even if you’re not the reason behind it. 

Happiness is helping someone, directly or indirectly, and seeing that person’s mood change to the better after you’ve helped. 

Happiness is knowing your hard work paid off, knowing that you have people in your life who’ll always have your back, knowing that God is with you, always.”

– “What is love?”

To that I replied, “Love is a powerful thing. Love stretches over any distance. Love is when you put other people’s happiness before yours, when you’re ready to sacrifice something without hesitating, when you feel the need to give your all to someone. 

Love is that little fire that ignited inside the hearts of a man and a woman when they first met, and when they saw their baby child for the first time. 

Love is when you feel like you have to check up on a friend or a family member who is sick, when you feel like calling someone because you miss that person and you need to hear his/her voice.”

– “What is passion?” 

“Passion is when you’re ready to do something you love and give it your ultimate best. You love that thing so much you feel like you always have to improve to be the best. And the greatest thing about passion is that, even if the path to excellence is long and bumpy, you’re always happy while taking that path because you’ve got passion.” 

– “What is sadness?”

I lowered my eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Sadness, my boy, is that bitter feeling you get when you lose something you love. You remember when grandpa passed away? Remember how much I cried?”

– Yes, Baba. 

“Do you know why I cried? I cried because I was filled with sadness. But sadness comes in different kinds. There’s that little sadness you feel when you get a bad grade, or when your favorite football team loses an important game. There’s the sadness that lasts a little longer and that tries to inhabit your heart, but fortunately fails to do so. This kind of sadness mostly comes to you when you lose a loved one. And lastly, there’s agony. Agony is that ultimate level of sadness that inhabits your heart and somehow refuses to go away. It stays there, fighting for refuge in your heart.”

– “How to avoid agony, Baba?” 

“Well, son, agony settles in your heart once you let it in. But I think the only way to keep agony away is by trying to be a good person. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the nicest people secretly live in agony.  But, son, take my advice and choose something that makes you happy and pursue it. Find people who bring out the best in you, and who push you to try new -safe- things. Find your passion in life. Love more, smile more, help more, accept remarks, challenge yourself to improve…and if you fail – once, twice, or even 10 times – you keep trying. Never tell yourself that you’re a failure. You are incredible. You know what they say…” 

My son looked at me, smiled, and screamed, “When there is a will, there is a way!” 

My little man was growing up. 

– “Thank you, Baba. I can kick agony’s behind now, I’m going to be a happy boy!” 

“I sure hope all the best for you, son. Give your old pops a hug.” 

He hugged me and went to play with his friends.

My wife came in the room, patted my shoulder, and said to me, “I heard everything. I love you and that beautiful mind of yours. You’re teaching him well.” 

This One’s for You

This one’s for you; the one who is going through a tough time and is ready to give up,
The one who feels like nothing will ever go right again after making one mistake,
The one who has so much to offer the world, but remains silent and afraid of the comments and rejection of society,
The one who is silenced by fear and confusion,
The one who sees the beauty in people, even when people reveal nothing but their ugly sides,
To you.

I love you. I love your flaws and your remarkable features. I love that incredible mind of yours. You are beautiful, strong, and independent. It’s just an impossible period of time, not an impossible life.

Surround yourself with people who make you happy, do more of what brings serenity to your life, and smile more often. Happiness looks great on you, I’m sure of that. You are doing a wonderful job, and it’s only a matter of temporary stress, remember that.

Cheers.

Civil War

I joined the army because I thought that was what real men were supposed to do. Real men protect and serve. Real men defend their nation. Real men fight for their women and children. Real men don’t get hurt. Real men die and are remembered as martyrs.

Wrong.

I stepped into the base. I noticed the macho guys doing their push-ups, climbing, crawling, escaping barbed wires, and behaving like “real men”. I could feel them looking at me, mocking my skinny physique, judging me. A few seconds later, I looked forward and saw nothing else but a mountain in front of me. That mountain was known as the Sergeant. He was around 6 feet tall, with a body perhaps a hundred times more muscular than mine, if not more.

He introduced himself as Sergeant Morris. He yelled instead of speaking normally, and he spat in our faces. He had a Crucifix tattooed on this upper arm, and he repeatedly roared, “WE FIGHT IN THE NAME OF THE POWERFUL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and spat a little more with ever yell.

“You,” he pointed at me, “Introduce yourself, beanstalk.”

I stepped forward and opened my mouth, but couldn’t even say my name. A shivering voice finally came out, “Roger Matthews, Sir.”

He grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around, and pushed me back to where I was first standing. The other men laughed.

I had troubles climbing the ropes, breaking free from traps, or doing anything that required physical strength. Every night I would lie in bed, bruised and scarred, praying to God and asking Him if I made the right choice. I got no answers from Him, just a remark from one of the guys in the bunk telling me to shut up. And when I whispered my prayers, I would receive a pillow as hard as concrete to the face. Last night, one of the guys undressed me while I was asleep. I can hardly figure out how he knew I was a very heavy sleeper, but he knew. I woke up the next day, without any pants on and shirtless. I shrieked. They started telling me that I was sleepwalking, and other crap of the sort. They belittled me, spat in my face, threw their dirty clothes at me, turned me into their doormat. I was despised.

I trained harder every day, cursing every second I spent in this hell, and finding new ways to run away from being “accidentally” punched in the face by one of the guys. I eventually was able to climb the rope and jump from the top of the cement wall, but I still had to master the art of holding a weapon. I hesitated at first, because I’ve always been a pacifist, you might say, but Sergeant Morris threatened to make my life even more miserable than it was at first if I don’t shoot at the target.

“WE FIGHT IN THE NAME OF THE POWERFUL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” he shouted again.

I shot clumsily but somehow the bullet struck the center of the target, exactly. The sergeant lifted me, suffocating me a little, called it a congratulations hug, and said that I have evolved well. He patted my shoulder. It hurt for three days.

The weeks passed by and that was when we were told that the times of safety were over. Our opponents had trespassed all of the borders. It’s time to confront the enemy.

“Roger! Leopold! Francis! Get your weapons ready!”

We ran to the tank. I didn’t know what to feel. Now began the moment of survival.

The tank was moving quickly, and all of us soldiers were being thrown from side to side inside it. None of us was able to sit still, we were all worried. The tank stopped and we all got off.

“Run for your life,” I told myself. “They hate you. I guess it’s every man for himself.” I was running madly, trying to breathe with every step I took. I found this huge rock I could hide behind, and luckily avoided being shot in the leg.

“Great, not only am I probably going to die today, but I also nearly lost a leg. It was close, Matthews. Really close,” I thought.

I ran.

I hid behind an abandoned house and tried catching my breath. That was when I saw the enemy. Without noticing, Leopold stood next to me. “What are you doing?” he said, “Shoot!” he barked in my ear.

“I can’t kill, Leopold. I just can’t!”

“Do you want to come out alive, or do you want to perish?! Shoot!”

Leopold grabbed my arm, put his hand on top of mine, and made my finger pull the trigger. The soldier was shot in the back. I couldn’t believe it…I had just killed a man. I witnessed his blood pouring out. I saw his last movement; he moved a finger. The man was dead. I had just killed a man.

Leopold carried me back to the tank, shouted something about me to Sergeant Morris, and joined the battlefield again. Sergeant Morris reprehended me, but I didn’t listen; I was traumatized. I had just killed a man who, like me, was in the army to defend his nation, to be a real man.

We fought for months, barely making it out alive every day. As the war came to an end, it was clear that few were the men who remained alive. I was running recklessly, but the enemy shot me. I was shot in the head. The last thing I saw was Leopold crying.

Look, God. The war is over, but he didn’t taste victory. He fought for his country. He protected and served. He could have helped his country by becoming a writer, but no. He died during the war but, sadly, he was not really remembered.

Hey, America, is he a real man to you?

 

Inspired by the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

Little Random Post

I have to be honest and say that I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. Let’s see…

My 15 years in school are practically over. I graduate this year. MOMMA, I’M GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL IN A FEW MONTHS! 

Okay now that I let that out, I would like to confess that the idea of “the future” scares me. My dad says to live day-by-day and not to worry about the future but guess who finds that impossible

I can’t help but think of how I’m about to jump from one phase of life into another without going through a sort of try-living-on-your-own-for-a-few-months experience. I don’t know. I mean for the first 18-to-20 years of your life everything you want is taken care of by your parents and you’re still their little baby and suddenly woop! You’re off to college. You’re now an adult and you’re supposed to handle your life, stress, studies and problems all by yourself. Cool.

I’m applying for a major in biology. Many have asked if by “biology” I meant “pre-med biology” and one can clearly see that they lost interest the second I said no. I have repeatedly received comments such as “PURE BIOLOGY? Then what? Teaching career?”
In fact, yes. I’m aiming for a PhD. Soon, you’ll be calling me “professor”.

However, even if I know that I’m passionate about biology and that I find pleasure in studying it, I still have some doubts. Is it really what I want?

***

Another thing that I’d like to talk about is something regarding school in general. Listen, kids. High school is tough. You will  face competition, you will have emotional breakdowns because of grades, you will face a stress that will sometimes lead to failure, you will go through sleepless nights, you will get heartbroken, you will face disappointments, and you will meet new people and let go of the ones you thought will always stay by your side. But if there’s something I have learned from high school, it’s that grades will never define how smart you are. Perhaps in middle school you never fought for your grades, and maybe other people’s results didn’t mean to you when you were younger. Everything was fine. You did your best and that seemed enough. Now you realized that other people’s achievements do affect you, and that you are indeed fighting for your grades, but guess what? You’re not the only one going through this. In middle school, teachers and administration members push you to do your best so that you can make it to and through high school. However, ever since you start your sophomore year, every teacher starts following you, telling you that you have to excel in everything, enroll in extracurricular activities and all that bullshit because if you don’t, university X won’t accept you.

We all want to get into the best universities. I know that from myself. But I think that school shouldn’t push you to do this and that. The school’s job is to guide you in order for you to choose the university that is best for you and whatever major you want. I think that, in the end, it’s all a matter of reputation. You know, a way for administration members to brag and say “yeah well we have a student, X, who studies at Harvard” and “Yes, our students are going to the American University of Beirut”.

Well, I think I made a point. I’d like to wrap everything up by thanking my parents because they never made a big deal out of a certain bad grade since they know that I’m doing my best, my best friends with whom I grew up because they’ve always had my back, the people I’ve met recently (a few years back) because they have been wonderful, and finally, God, because He always listened to my prayers and eased my pain.

Let this be a lesson to you: do your absolute best, all the time. If you succeed, you’re on the right track. If you fail, try again. Don’t let one, two, or even eight bad grades get you down, because life is about much more than academic results. And finally, the stress you will face is only temporary. When you’re down, always try finding a reason to smile. Stay positive, stay determined, and keep blogging.

On Loyalty and Haughtiness – Part One

My best friend and I have recently talked a lot about loyalty.

To many, loyalty is a value that seems to be slowly perishing. If we had to go by the meaning of the term as it appears in the dictionary, we can see that “loyal” appears as follows:

“Giving or showing firm support or allegiance to a person or institution.” 

What I’ve seemed to notice a lot lately is the sudden splitting of once-indestructible relationships because of trust issues and loyalty problems. Trust me, the post-separation state is even worse. The other day, I saw this tweet which pretty much sums up everything in a very matter-of-fact way:

capture

Before I talk about my own point of view on the subject, I thought of looking at psychology’s side which states the following:

“Most of us choose friends and romantic partners based on vague or unidentified feelings alone. […] If someone betrays you for a very big reason, you’re lost without a set of conscious convictions to guide you; so you might hang around longer than you should, because your feelings tell you, “This person has been in my life, and I shouldn’t change that now.”

If you live your life consciously, by a set of conscious convictions and principles, then you deliberately select your friends and loved ones accordingly. If you value integrity and honesty, for example, then you not only seek to practice it, but to find people who do the same. […]

If you value your ideals consciously, and you seek to uphold them in daily life, then your friends and spouse will be very important to you. They’re important to you because they embody and actualize — in your eyes, and hopefully in reality — your most cherished values. Loyalty in that context is “easy,” in that betraying people who embody what’s important to you would go against everything  you think and most deeply feel.” (Dr. Hurd, July 7th, 2014)

If I had to talk about this from a personal point of view, one of the feelings I hate the most is that feeling you get when you realize that the other person involved in the relationship is not putting as much effort in the affiliation as you are. You know when you’re the one always asking the other person about his/her worries? When you’re the one actually doing whatever it takes to keep the other person happy? Yes, that sucks. And yeah I will come out and say that I am loyal, because I am always there when a friend needs me, and when I fail at being there, I  sincerely apologize because it matters to me. I don’t know if that says that I’m overly attached to certain people (and somehow that it’s terribly hard to let go of people who hurt me), but if that’s what’s pushing me to be loyal, then should I try to change things? Maybe. It hurts sometimes (a lot) but the people’s happiness I get in return makes up for it, partially.

My friend has his own opinion on the subject. He actually wanted me to call this post “The Fear of Loyalty” based on a bad incident that had once taken place in my life, and when I asked him to elaborate, he explained it by saying that I appreciate loyalty after the incident, which is awfully true. I also fear people talking badly about me regardless of all my loyalty to them, so in a way, as my friend mentioned, I fear trusting people not to talk behind my back (which is also true), and all of that means that I feel that the loyalty people have to offer me might hurt me (or them) too often.

See the problem with loyalty is that it’s too fragile. It takes one mistake to ruin the fidelity you have towards someone, and that is just a real killer for all types of relationships. Imagine breaking a promise…a promise that said that you will always stay by your friend’s side no matter how hard times get, and one day you just turn your back, and pretend like you’ve never promised anything. I guess you can visualize the devastation that would take place as soon as the promise is broken.

One last thing. If you’re anything like me, stick to other people’s sides, be there for them, and all I can say is try as much as possible not to get too attached, just to avoid a broken heart later on. Easier said that done, perhaps, but somehow better for you. Just be there for others as much as you can, stay positive, love and respect others and never let anyone bring you down.

Open Letter

– Dedicated to every person struggling with relationships –

I know you lie on your bed and think about the one you love. I also know you dream about the one you love and wish that person could be yours forever.

I know you smile or squeal whenever you see the name of the one you love pop on your screen. I know you often load only the snaps of the one you love because you want to know what s/he is doing.

I know you dream of talking to the one you love for countless hours and never saying good-bye. I also know you wish you could shorten the distance separating the both of you.

However, I guess you know how hard it is to see the one you love, the one you care the most about right after family, turn towards other people.

I believe you know how hurt you can get when you realize you don’t mean to the one you love as much as you thought you did, or as much as s/he means to you.

I get what you feel.

Every person, including you, wants to mean something to someone more than anything else in the world. Every person wants to be talked about in the best way possible, and know the one s/he loves called him/her irreplaceable.

Every girl wants to know that the one she loves mentioned her name to his friends, said that she was the one he wants, that, even with a messy bun and no makeup, she’s still the most beautiful girl on the planet, that her laugh is the most adorable thing he has ever heard, that his life without her wouldn’t be the same, and that he’s glad and proud to know her.

You have probably fought for a place in the life of the one you love, and have perhaps fallen several times. Maybe there were obstacles in your way, and you lost contact with the one you love for a while, and that period felt like ages, so it was hell for you.

You plausibly wondered if it hurt your lover the same way it hurt you. But sometimes, the sad part comes here: it didn’t.

But now I tell you, dear friend, don’t you dare give up on love.

What I know is that you are stronger than that, and you deserve much better. I know that behind that broken, mistreated soul, lies someone with a bold character who is ready to change the world. You should be the reason people would think twice before breaking someone’s heart.

The first person who hurt you will certainly not be the last. And perhaps you did dream about your lover, and ended up heartbroken, however you should never lose your spark. Shine so bright people would still want to look at you even though you blinded them. Be the reason behind people’s smiles, and their motive to reach success.

I promise you that even if the one you loved broke all connection between the both of you, by breaking free from the pain and burning bright, you’ll find someone who’ll talk about you like you’re his/her inspiration, who will absentmindedly smile when s/he sees your face, whose life you will ignite like a fire every time you two make eye contact, who will do the impossible to spend time with you, and who will fight for you and protect you like crazy.

Again, dear friend, don’t you dare give up on relationships.