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.” 

Quick Reminder

It’s been a while since I last posted anything, but I’ve been really busy lately. Between school activities, extracurriculars, my studies, and family commitments, it’s hard to find the correct time to blog and to actually think and write. 

I won’t blabber much. I’m just here to tell you a thing or two. First of all, the most essential thing in life is to always be there for the people who need you. When someone needs a shoulder to cry on, be there for that person. When a friend needs to take a load off his/her chest, be the one who listens. The feeling of serenity you’ll feel afterwards is beyond satisfying. Not only have you helped someone out, directly or indirectly, but you’ve also been able to achieve inner peace. 

Also, be thankful for what you have. Lately, I made a decision to stop complaining and learn to accept and be happy with what I have. It worked fine the first week, so I’m trying to make it a lifestyle. Be thankful for your friends. At least I know I am. My friends are incredible, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. Be thankful for your family. No bond is stronger than the one that connects a man and a woman to their children. Family is irreplaceable. And lastly, instead of focusing on the negatives, learn to embrace the positives. 

That’s all I have to say. Put a smile on your face, be good to others, and be kind. You’re awesome, remember that. 

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.

Him // September 3rd, 2000

It’s time to speak up. I don’t know what’s going on with me.

Usually I’m all for meeting new people and making new friends, but in his case, I refuse. I refuse, I refuse, I refuse. I can’t bear to see him drift away from me like that.

Recently, I found out he had a new friend he talked to all the time, and she seems like she’s better than me. No, wait. She is better than me. Prettier, smarter, funnier.

I can’t think of the number of times when he said that she has told him something last night, and broke my heart. Why is he talking to her so much?

What is this load on my chest?

I’m jealous. I admit it. I am goddamned jealous.

Everytime she says his name, and how much the both of them laughed the night before, I die a little inside. It hurts because I’m afraid. I’m scared that he’ll eventually love her more, that he’ll eventually forget me the way he forgets a lot of things he never thinks of again, that he’ll eventually stop talking to me and turn away from me forever.

I know I’m not perfect. I know that I probably even suck, and that I’m not as gorgeous, smart, or funny as she is, but if there’s one thing I can do that she can’t is loving him like no one has ever loved him before. I tried being his shoulder to cry on and his escape from the tragedies of life, all for one reason: to ensure he’ll never leave. Something went wrong, apparently, but I’ll find a way.

I don’t know how he makes me feel that way, and I certainly don’t know why he makes me feel that way, but he does. I’ll get him back, I have to.

Confessions

Nick and I were invited to a birthday party the other night, and we were the last two people to leave. Even the girl whose birthday it was had left. It was 1AM, can you blame her? After all, she did get surprised big time that night.

We held the birthday surprise at one of our hangouts, The Lonely Corner. If you saw how crowded it always is, you’d think the name was pretty ironic. Anyway, behind The Lonely Corner lied a swing set. Nick was like, “Hey! I haven’t sat on a swing in ages. Look, I’m 10 again.” I sat on the swing right next to his and acted a little childlike myself.

Nick stopped swinging. He saw me rubbing my hands together and blowing some hot air into my palms, trying to feel warm. Before I knew it, he took off his jacket and covered my shoulders.

“No, Nick, now you will feel cold and I don’t want you to get sic-” I said, a little aggressively.

He insisted I wear it, and that was when he looked straight into my eyes. He smiled.

“You know what’s funny?” I said. “I never noticed that little twinkle in your eyes.”

“Well, you have beautiful eyes too… and they talk to me.”

“And what are they saying?”

“That I looked absolutely hot tonight,” he said, and we both burst out laughing. He then continued saying, “I don’t always tell you this, but when I want to, I don’t get the chance to do so.”

I shrugged.

“You know how we’ll be off to college soon? Yeah, well, among all the people that I could possibly stop talking to in the future, or all the people that I might let go of, I pray you’ll never be one of them.”

A smile was drawn on my face. I couldn’t believe what I was just told. You probably are wondering why I was so stunned, considering Nick and I were best friends and all, but what you don’t know is that Nick and I had had a huge argument a month ago, and made up after tons of apology attempts. You didn’t know about this simply because we didn’t tell anyone.

“I feel the same way,” I finally uttered.

Nick started blowing hot air into his palms. “Told you you’d feel cold,” I said, “My hands are warm now, hand me yours.”

I grabbed his frozen fingers and I could see he felt better. I looked at him firmly, and said, “Tell me something. Anything.”

“I love you.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Okay. I’ve been having a great time lately. Everything’s been going great; my football team won the finals, my grades are outstanding, and I have healthy relationships with everyone. I’m happy.”

I looked down, and bit my lip. Then I contemplated Nick’s face attentively. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“How are you so good at everything you do? How do you maintain strong connections with everyone at all times? How do you not stress out all the time? How do you do it?

“Alright, fine. I want to tell you something I don’t usually talk about. The truth is I don’t know if I’m ready to go to New York for college. I’m scared, Jane. I don’t know how I’ll handle a long-distance relationship with Rosie. I don’t know how I’ll keep in touch with my parents all the time. I don’t know how I’ll handle being in New York while you’re here in Chicago.”

I grinned again.

“And who says I don’t stress out?” he continued. “I’m at the top level of stressing out right now. Oh, and one more thing: it’s important to keep in mind that the most essential thing is to be someone good, someone passionate, someone loyal, someone determined, and someone who loves. It’s hard, but I manage.”

“My best friend is so wise.” I said with a cheeky smile.

“I’m wise and am the way I am because my best friend always motivated me to be the best I can be. Because my best friend told me about a quadrillion times that life doesn’t stop at failure. Because my best friend was awesome to me, and I wanted to be like her to other people.”

“You wanted to be like me? But I’ve always wanted to be like you!”

“Yes, Jane. You’ve had a great impact on my life. You don’t know how many problems I had before we met. My parents were trying to help, but you made things right again.”

And at this moment, we stopped talking, started swinging again, looked at each other and laughed…and that was when we saw car lights. Our moms were here to pick us up.

“Bye, Nick.”

“Bye, Jane.”

“And…Nick? Promise me we’ll always push each other to do our best, and that no matter what happens, no matter where we end up in college, no matter in which country life puts us in, we’ll always talk.”

“I promise. I love you.” He turned around and headed towards the car.

“I love you way more,” I whispered as I watched him walk away.

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.