This is a story about a guy who rides a camel through drive-throughs and does a happy dance with a mop ...
I didn't think I'd write here for a long, long while.
I didn't see the point; I felt disheartened, disillusioned, broken. I had NOTHING positive to write about.
And I knew there was no good to be had in spreading the negativity. The world has enough of that already.
I completely stepped away from all forms of social media for about two weeks. While that might not seem long to some, or so very long to others, for me the lapse was what you'd call a 'significant' break.
I'm not a huge 'twitterer'.
But I check out Facebook at least once a day.
I visit my blog every day.
I'll occasionally sign in to LinkedIn.
I check my hotmail every few hours without fail.
I scan Mail OnLine because I secretly enjoy the trash.
I lurk on my favorite blogs for sheer entertainment and because I've actually become 'friends' with their authors ... these strange, hilarious, sad, engaging, amazing kindred writer souls.
I read Doha News religiously, because the reporters there always seem to know what's happening here before anyone else...
But for the last two weeks, I just stepped away.
And it actually felt good/great.
It felt like I was a newborn, rediscovering my thoughts; actually having to sort them out before spewing them out.
You see, I'm a thinker, then a writer. But I'm not much of a vocalizer. So for the last two weeks, I've actually had to run things through my brain and work through them ... without blogging or talking. Just thinking.
And since there was (virtually) no social media input, all I had to think about was me and my life and all that's in it.
There's something to be said about that.
But a few days ago, like every good addict, I decided I wanted a little bit 'in'. My fast was over.
I checked out one blogger friend in France, and found she'd suffered a great loss. One as great as mine, perhaps more. Perhaps unexpected. I realized I hadn't been around to ask.
I checked out my blog comments and found that another blogger buddy understood what 'ME fatigue' is all about. (anyone living in the Middle East will understand the inexplicable 'tiredness') But more than that, he really 'gets' living in the ME as an expat. The whole 'love-hate' relationship. Not everyone does.
My best blogging buddy (3B) who's followed me since I was a 'baby blogger' has been dealing with an injured spouse while celebrating a newfound calling. Empathy and congratulations were in order.
My best friend in the world, the one who was my roommate for four years in university, the one who consoled the inconsolable when I got separated, the one who always assured me it would "be all right", the one who drove hours to see me when I was visiting my dying father, the one I love to the ends of the earth and beyond ... well, she just found out her mom has cancer. I need to be available ... just in case she needs me.
Smilin' Vic's step-mom is undergoing chemotherapy ... it's not looking great. I realized that when I opened my e-mail three days ago.
My brother-in-law wants to make me laugh so he sends funny fart jokes and the occasional positive social interest piece on Qatar. He e-mails.
My sister, my mentor, sent me a few messages. I opened them today. They were sent a week ago. On WhatsApp.
Forgive me for my weakness, but I have quickly realized that an expat in Doha fares far worse without social media. Unfortunately, my addiction to fibre-optic connectivity is a lifeline to what moves me. It is a lifeline to what matters.
The key most likely resides in balance. Balancing the NEED to communicate and the DESIRE to be heard. There's no need to be in constant contact. But there is a need as an expat to be 'reachable'. There is a need as an expat to 'reach out'.
This blog is no place for negativity. For reflection, yes. For appreciation, yes. For a good laugh, yes. For a healthy rant, yes. But not for negativity. And so I've resolved to respect it for the healthy outlet it's meant to be.
Tonight I broke completely, like the true addict that I am, and was rewarded with a satisfying rush - a good news story, about Qatar to boot! A story of one (caveat: not the 'only' one) Qatari making a difference. Changing the world, one gesture at a time. That one Qatari made a difference. That one Qatari moved me.
I was moved. Truly moved. Moved to the point of wanting to write about something positive again. Despite the disparaging comments questioning the authenticity of the intent. Despite the naysayers insisting that it's all a publicity stunt.
I insist ... actually I KNOW, that there is inherent good in every society. My previous rants, my disparaging comments about dissatisfaction in this country ... they're justified. Through the eyes of a North American expat, they're justified. But they're not fair. They're my perception of a society, a Nation, trying to come to grips with Westernization. And who am I to say the Western way is THE way?
All I can say in my defense is that I struggle with what is unfamiliar to me. Even after eight years, I struggle.
Which gives all the more credence to my hosts, who struggle every day to adapt to the expat population that engulfs them by approximately 85%.
I can at least plead the frustration of a 'foreigner in a foreign land'.
But imagine being a minority and a foreigner in your homeland. Imagine. This is your HOME. And the world, the worldwide scrutiny, the wealth, and the media have taken over. You have no place. The world has tried you; you are wrong, you have done wrong, everything you believe in is wrong. What do you do?
Kudos to individuals like Hamad Al-Amari and Fatima Al-Dosari for trying to merge those worlds. What did they do? A little something. A little something to make you 'Happy'.
I work with some very cool dudes. Some Nationals who hang out with me and love a good laugh and song. Some very respectful, respected, respectable individuals who actually want to see the WORLD, not just Qatar, be a better place. Like the guy I know who went back to the Philippines last year to visit his childhood nanny, because he missed her, but also to see how he could help her and family.
Living here is not easy. I don't always 'get' it. Often I want to go home. But that's my thing.
On the flip side, I admit to feeling personally offended when I read or hear of outsiders or newcomers trashing this country.
Everyone has some good in them. They just don't always 'get' it. Forty years ago, North Americans were driving 140 miles an hour down the highway with a kid bouncing around in the front seat and a case of beer at their feet. We've evolved ... most of us ... to an extent.
Give Qatar time.
You got it.
Qatar will too.