So it’s been one year since I came back to live in Jordan and at the end of my first post on home soil, I promised a part two but it never transpired. Hence this post. However after actually writing it, and having it read like some sort of cliche retrospective, I pressed down on the ‘backspace’ key until every word had gone. This final version is perhaps a bit more ‘real’. Forgive the inevitable lengthiness, the words have been brewing in my head for about a year, fragments at a time. If you survive, you’re a better person than I am.
I have to admit, coming back here I had this certain image in my head of how things were supposed to be; how they were supposed to work out. None of that happened. At least not the way it looked like in my mind. Then again, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
This year was all about God opening doors where windows had closed. It sounds funny, but now that I can reflect on the entire time line, it seems to be true. I feel I accomplished a lot but hardly enough; hardly scratching the surface. Perhaps it’s because it took me almost 3 months, a period of time which my father pleasantly referred to as a vacation, to get my feet back on the ground after having them swept right out from under me by early disappointment. Perhaps because it has been a year and yet only now am I starting to feel truly ‘at home’, truly in my element, whatever that feeling entails.
There is practically nothing about my current life that resembles that of this time last year. Everything I had in my hand, everything I lost in this process of reestablishing or recreating myself, I’ve discovered wasn’t a big loss after all. It’s like losing your luggage on the way over and after a few days of regret and anger, you discover that whatever you lost didn’t carry as much value as you thought they once did. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a bit of divine intervention that says ‘get over it, it’s not worth it’.
And so I did.
This has also been a year that required a lot of faith and dependency on God. I know that’ll sound inevitably weird to some, but this is just one thing I can’t deny. If it was any other way, this year would’ve been an utter failure, and I know this because whenever something does work out, whenever something good surprises me, I get that feeling that it’s something out of the blue. I dunno. It’s a weird feeling and at least half the people reading this probably know what I’m talking about. Hopefully I don’t sound like one of those gold toothed rappers at the Grammys thanking God for his hit song “smack that b****”.
So I suppose, even the worst things about this year turned out to be good things in the long run. This only validates the idea that standing too close can often make the picture seem too blurry. So, el7amdulellah, I don’t have any regrets. That’s the word that defines this year.
The decision to come back was based on four primary reasons. Two of those reasons didn’t work out, and the other two concerned family and the sheer desire to do something in Jordan; to contribute some how some way. That last part is probably an idealistic notion, one that I’ve lived with for exactly 8 years and counting. It’s also the hardest part because it usually entails not knowing how, when, and in which way. I discovered this year that simply thinking about it just isn’t going to get the job done. A lot of it has to do with hope, prayer and faith that I’ll just happen on it. And to an extent, the how, when and in which way is starting to present itself to me.
Hopefully, that’s a realistic reflection of what it means to come back after a long time. Hopefully it might be of benefit to anyone in the same position I was in a year ago.
All that being said, I think 2008 will be an interesting year. The changes that happened this year are comparatively small to what it’s in store for the new year, and that’s just for the things I know about and the things I’ve resolved to do inshallah. That’s the word that defines next year.
The number one question I get asked nowadays is “how do you find Jordan since you’ve been back?”
Whether it’s my primary job, my side projects, or simply the fact that I now live here at the age of 24 as opposed to 18, but it’s a different outlook. I’m cynical by nature, I’ll admit that. And I was a lot more optimistic about Jordan a year ago, I’ll admit that as well. But in between those two polarities, there lives a curious and wondering realist.
How Jordan has managed to survive, I don’t know. Sustaining is actually the right word. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of support mechanism, something that actually sustains the country economically, politically, socially. I haven’t been able to think of one thing.
The rich are richer and the poor are poorer, and while that might sound like another cliche, it is undeniably true and completely noticeable when it comes to Jordan. I don’t remember there being this much contrast.
Everything is expensive. Everything. Even the sacred things I once felt could be untouchable, have been torn apart by the economics.
And it took me only a few weeks, if not days, after returning to truly understand that Jordan is a nightmare if you don’t have a healthy income. It’s that simple. That’s the reality.
This time last year I also had a little more faith in government than I do now. Right now it’s right around zero and dropping. Reading the morning papers, and being on the ground as the changes occur, I’ve become convinced that a great deal of government involves half-guessing and a general policy of not knowing what they hell they’re doing. I’ve also become convinced that few positive changes in the country can be directly contributive to the workings of government. NGO’s have done a whole lot more to improve things and the fact there seems to be so many of them operating in the country now than I can ever remember, may be a testament to simple demand and supply.
So whenever people ask me that now quintessential question of my 2007, my mind shifts into some analytical mode, struggling to find the few good things in Jordan, the few things I can actually label as positive, and I’m not talking about fresh air and the flowers in spring. That list has grown incredibly shorter since last December.
At this point I feel like we are looking over the edge at the abyss below and I pray that this is just me being melodramatic.
But in the middle of all that, there are a select few who are so engaged with their local environment it’s pretty admirable. I’ve had the chance to meet and work with some of these people; this select few.
So, what hasn’t changed is my optimism for change. I still believe it’s possible, and I’m more resolved to contribute and more resolved in the idea that people can contribute to that change. I’m more convinced that it’s the only way.
And whether through this blog or somewhere in the deep confines of my mind, I’ll continue to chronicle the extraordinary voyage of metamorphosis that this nation has embarked upon.