I have a running buddy! Getting a running buddy, someone to huff and puff and plod alongside me, seems like just as much of an achievement as the actual running. My running buddy and I ran along the Arabian Gulf today. Her stopwatch beeped every five minutes and then one minute after that, our signal to run and then walk. While running, she told me about something interesting her driver told her. He speculated that the reason Kuwait hasn’t developed its infrastructure as much as Doha, Dubai, or Abu Dhabi is because, until Saddam Hussein was killed, Kuwaitis were always afraid that Iraq might invade again and destroy everything they had built. I’ll have to ask a Kuwaiti if this is true, if that fear of impending doom and having their work erased is etched onto the Kuwaiti psyche. After our lovely run on the waterfront, I walked home and gazed at all the old buildings--buildings that maybe existed before Iraq invaded in 1990. I suddenly felt a connection with Kuwait that I hadn’t felt before, as if deep down we shared some vulnerability.
I’m in a constant state of development, as a teacher, writer, and human being. But I came to Kuwait for a specific kind of development--professional development. I came to receive training and experience teaching the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, also known as IB. Developing ourselves can be daunting, especially if we have or have ever had unsupportive people in our lives. I can say with certainty that there have been people who would take sheer pleasure in toppling any sand castle I created. I’m going to venture a guess that most of us have some version of Saddam Hussein in our heads, something from our past that casts doubt on the durability of whatever we are trying to achieve. It could be some discouraging words heard once that somehow turned into a recording that our brain just decides to play every now and then. It could be a jealous person who tried to sabotage your success, so they could look superior. Whatever the Saddam Hussein demon in our closet is, we need to shoo it away and build. We need to better ourselves. (I’m thinking of Mr. Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors telling some girls loitering outside his plant shop to better themselves. Their response: “Better ourselves? Mister, when you from Skid Row, ain’t no such thing.” Sometimes we get in these Skid Row mindsets where bettering ourselves seems futile. (In any case, I think we can all agree that Little Shop of Horrors is a great film.)
I would love it if Kuwait built some overpasses, so I didn’t have to fear for my life while crossing the street. Oh, and a big, used bookstore would be great. That’s all I need. I am happy in my apartment and my school. I’ve decorated my apartment with my framed art, Turkish lamps, Turkish carpets and pillows. I’m currently writing this while sitting on my comfy couch and sipping hot chocolate. I don’t know how long I will stay in Kuwait, at least two years, maybe three, maybe four. That depends on my level of fulfillment, which is still yet to be determined. Even if I don’t stay beyond my two-year contract, I am glad I invested in decorating my apartment and making myself at home. I’ll just go ahead building everything to last, as if everything is durable and nothing can destroy my work. I’ll build my career with new challenges. I’ll build my writing life with ambitious projects that I finish before the nagging voices keep me from reaching the end. My apartment is already complete, and I should probably stop decorating, lest I end up living in a cluttered apartment. But my life can be prolonged with exercise, which I did today. Nothing lasts forever, but let’s not let a fear of an outsider tearing us down keep us from doing what we love to do.
|My cozy living room|