This blog contains opinions, experiences, thoughts and observations of the author from his day to day living.
It is subject to comments, criticisms and corrections, and all will be dealt with constructively and do leave your comments I would love to hear from you.
There is no intention to offend, discriminate nor degrade anybody or anything for that matter, only shared feelings, emotions and angsts at the moment.
Welcome to my world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do You Know If You're Ego Driven?

Our ego is one of the most self-destructive mechanisms of a person's character and his or her abilities. As a matter of fact if we look at some people who have achieved success only to lose it all in the end, is almost always because of the ego. I lost many things and relationships in my life because of my ego, who got the better of me at times, and I don't know how to start again wher I have left off before. So I just let it all pass until regrets settle in and then it's too late.
Browsing the net I came upon a site that  shared some insights about our egos. Posted by  Srinivas Rao. Srinivas who is a volunteer for the Quality of Life Project. I am sharing them this time with you, my readers and siting my own experiences with this monster.

According to Srinivas, there are 6 signs that we are ego driven ,

1.Concern with Approval of others.
When I work, or whatever I do, I am constantly on the lookout for a positive approval or appreciation from others. So I do my thing the best I could, hoping to get a good opinion from other people. In a world where people are overly concerned with looking good in front of others it is easier to get carried away basking in the knowledge that people speak highly of you. But this ego-trip is an unattractive way to be appreciated, I have learned that if I come from a place of authenticity and just plain hard work, I will be much more well liked. That I should be free of the good opinion of other people,  (although easier said than done done!), "but comes with a sense of freedom and liberation that allows you to truly shine." - Srinivas

2.Fear of asking for help.
I never wanted to bother anyone, as much as I can restrain myself. I know that there are things that we can never really do by ourselves, but I try. This results to stress, worry, and self-loathing at times for me.  It has become my habit and now recognized as another ego-trip! Like whenever I move  to another place, I try to do it all alone, I am too shy to ask for any assistance from my friends, even though I find it so difficult to do by my own. I was afraid to be turned down or  let down (based on experiences). Although I made it, but it would have been better and quicker if I had asked for help. Yes, it was my ego telling me that "prove to them you don't need their help!"

3.Comparing and Competing
When driven by my ego, I would often compare myself to others and compete for the no. 1 spot. As Srinivas said, "Comparing yourself to others is the ego in one of its most vicious forms."  But it is a competition that I never won. Someone would alwas be better than me, and it made me feel dissatisfied.

4.The constant need for more
This is something I have made myself learn the hard way. I used to buy things that I really have no use of after the first excitement. I already shipped boxes of shoes, clothes and knick knacks back home which are just gathering dusts and taking so much space in my already small room. My ego entices me with thoughts of being "in" because I have this or that, but even then there will come a point when I may have everything, and getting more just for the sake of having it is too much, so this ego trip I already stopped, it's hard, but I have to stop before it turns into greed.

5.Lack of presence
I worry about my future, and always burdened by my past. I would often forget to live in the present, no matter how I gorge myself with wisdow from Eckhart Tolle about living moment to moment at the present.
But how do we really live in the present? How do we know if we are really present? Simply by letting go of all worries from the things we already did and for the things that still may or may not happen.
6.The need to always be right
Well, this is an ego-trip that is not my trip! Am glad to be free at least one of the six signs. I never really raise issues or feel the need to be always right. In fact I admit mistakes I make whenever I can. Although there are times when I sulk in it for a while before really admitting the wrong. So in turn, the ego trip is in the part where I would try to let it slide. Hoping that it will vanish into nothingness or pretend nothing ever occured. I am not the aggressive type nor a really persistent person, maybe that's why I never got far but am fine. I never have much complaints. Really.
Srinivas said. "These kinds of people will often get far in life because of their persistence and aggressiveness. But, these are also the people that will fail when they are on the brink of MASSIVE success."
I  am content with my small successes which I can handle and these in return gives me simple inner joys
"When you can learn to let go of the ego, the level of success and fulfillment you will achieve will be dramatic. Only with your ego in check will you have the ability to reach your full potential." - Srinivas

Monday, November 28, 2011

Do Whatever Moves You

There are times when it comes to making choices that affect how my life can be meaningful to me, I become indecisive. Somehow I know and I accept that my life, just like everyone else, is like a choose-your-own-adventure story book, I fear at most times that my choices will somehow be the wrong one, eventhough I really don't believe that there is such a thing as a right or wrong choice, maybe just some difference in how I see it.

Problem is, when an opportunity knocks that looks like more of self indulgence than life moving. If something might appear like just for fun or to perk an interest then I fear that I chose wrongly or that it won't satisfy a deeper purpose or a great meaning.

I know. It’s a bit crazy. I mean, so what, who cares? Right?
Unfortunately I have to care.

But then I kind of realized today the no one can really tell me what is and what is not meaningful or what does or does not have a deeper purpose. Sometimes I think people try to tell us just that, feeling higher on their own moral grounds, worse insists on their religious beliefs.
Seriously, if anyone would tell me that he or she want to sell fishballs on a corner of a busy street for the rest of his or her life, can I really say that it is a waste of one's life? I can’t can I? Our choices are ours alone and we need to follow what moves us.

All of this came to me while watching one of Ricky Martin's videos. There I was, listening to his amazing voice, mesmerised by his power and his movement. And I was hit by a lighting, so to speak.
 Ricky Martin is not singing about something really important. His chosen art is not profound nor it is changing the world. It has its effect for the people of the world, especially the gay community. In and of itself it doesn't have a deeper meaning or higher purpose, yet, this is how Ricky has chosen to spend his years because it moves him.
And I think this is the point of what I am blabbing about, he clearly loves what he does and does it amazingly. His energy and self expression move me because it moves him.

Does it really matter if his influence never changes anything? No.

Is it enough that his energy inspires the energy in others? Yes.

We must follow whatever moves us. It will be like a ripple on water in our human conciousness, sparking energy and inspiration in others.
You don't have to be great or philosophical. By simply being you, living with energy and joy. Maybe there will be times when it may be like self-indulgence for you or for those around you, who knows what greater impact this will have?

And in the end, you can’t do much more than be basically, essentially, you. Why would you even want to?

Friday, November 25, 2011

"What Is Real?"

I just finished watching the movie Beginners starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, a story between a father and his son, and their relationship when the father came out of the closet, at 75 years old to his son and got afflicted with lung cancer. It is a slow paced movie but very endearing, and the undelying theme about sadness, pain, acceptance, tolerance and of course love, it's effects and consequences and eventually how to survive the feeling. One part that struck me was when Ewan relates an excerpt from a children's book called the Velveteen Rabbit by Margaret Williams about a stuffed toy rabbit wanting to be played with and loved by a boy which had a very deep meaning, I kept rewinding and playing the narration until I got up and searched the internet about it. I found the excerpt and here it goes:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

The story goes on that the Velveteen Rabbit does become real because he is so loved by the boy. To cut it short, the story reminds us that when we are truly ourselves and truly loved we become genuine and real.

If I asked you, I am sure you would say that you unconditionally love those close to you, your partners, your friends your family. And I am sure in general we do unconditionally love those close to us. However, the test comes from day to day, in the annoying habits and the frustrating ways of being human. Most often, in the day to day monotony of our relationships we are taking account of who has done more, who calls more, who initiates more, who has sacrificed more. We get stuck in the ego of self protection. We don't love with a reckless abandon. We don't look at our partner or friends with appreciation and joy for the daily contributions they make into our lives. I know how difficult it is to really let go and LOVE someone for their REALNESS yet that is what we all long for, someone to take us in and look at our ugliness and love it anyway.

So today, my challenge to you, as you interact with those close to you, love them for who they are, for their failures and their successes for their hits and misses. Love them like the little boy loved the Velveteen Rabbit.

Blog Search Engine Sites

I recently enlisted my blog in a search engine site in order to provide me more traffic or more people to check out my sites, I am told to post this code AADBKKNH7TJR to verify my claim that I own andthe administrator of this site.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How Do I Love Saudi...Let Me Count The Ways

Since sooner or later I'd be saying adieu to this country that's been my home for the last, well, almost five years, especially with the current underlying issues of Saudization from which we might be sent home whether we like it or not, I would like to share the reasons I've gotten to love my stay here, even for a while. I will always remember the good and the bad, the experiences and the people I met. I will not deny the fact that when I go home, there's this part of me that will always miss Saudi Arabia.

1. Foods like the Kabsa, Dates, Shawarma at Mama Noura...Lebanese, Indian, Egyptian foods, sweets, Ful, Tamis, Samboosas, bhaklavas, and the Khuboos which was always served oversizingly overflowing.
2. Shisha or the "bubbly-bubbly" which I learned how to inhale and got a lot of coughing in the process!
3. The extreme weather from super hot summer to bone-deep winter.
4. The unholy working hours during Ramadan.
5. Learning Arabic, "Shokran," Sabr-khair," "Ki-fak. "Marhaba," "taal" and "Iqkrabeta" (not sure about the spelling but sounds like, which their favorite expression and don't ask me what it meant!)
6. Being reprimanded now and then by the police and mutawas for wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts, having long hair, too graphic designed shirts, looking at women, forbidden to shoot pictures and asked for your iqama (resident permit card) as if you've done something illegal.
7. How cheap to buy things here in their currency that is, from clothing to food, to electronics to furniture.
8. My trips to Harajj to buy second anything, name it, you'll find it there.
9. The sights, like the Faisaliah Tower, Kingdom Tower, my trips to Dammam, Corniche, Fanateer, Khobar, Abha, Khamis, Jeddah. Red Sand, Hidden Valley, "Ashra-ashra"
10. The malls that weakens one's knees from walking the vast space and feasting on designer and labeled clothes and what have you.
11. The constant call to prayer 5 times a day, from early morning to sundown.
12. The "kabayans" I met here.
13. The fancy cars I see at Thalia St., from Lamborghini to Rolls Royce, the latest BMWs, Mercedes, the Toyota FJs, sports cars, SUVs, all in season models, being paraded and broke in by TEENAGERS to their delight!
14. Jarir Bookstore ESPECIALLY the one in Olaya St.
15. The Boofias for my daily breakfast of "Shukshuka Samoli" and "Chai-haleeb"
16. The trips to Batha.
17. IKEA.
18. My Arab friend's at work that were so nice to me.
19. The Indian tailor that repairs and fixed my shirts, pants and sleeves to fit me perfectly.
20. Shemaissy, where I live all these years.
21. The electricity bills that sends me into a rage whenever it is more that SR 50.00 a month!
22. The fruit and vegetable Saudi vendors across the street where I live.
23. Smothering myself with moisturizers and body lotions everyday due to the dry weather.
24. Eating spicy foods which I never thought I'd get to like, as in!
25. Okay, okay, the men, period.

I think there are more, but generally these are what will I miss most. So there.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life Beyond Me

There is something about 12 miss calls, an inbox and 8 messages that somewhat tells us that we are important. We are bombarded with a very inviting idea: "Someone needs me!" The sudden ring, buzz or pop up notes telling of an incoming message is a bit flattering, even if it demads our attention - "Check your inbox now! Someone is looking for you!"
Truly technology progressed and deepens our sense of importance by compeling us to establish and personalize this world. I am only a click away from "my documents," "my favorites," "my music," and "my pictures."
I came across this article called A Slice of Infinity, which parallels what I am trying to explain, there's this feeling of importance called "MeWorld." The article tells how the world of technology shaped our lives, filling it with individual "flattered selves" each living in its own insulated, personalized world. We become narcissic that was the result and constantly being shoved by media in all areas of our lives from Facebook to television and magazines that ever always taking account our personal lives.
Subtle it may seem to be, but the sad thing is that I realize we slowly lose sight of both our life and self. Despite all the necessity and excitement being with my computer to check what's going on, this is not "my world." Though I am flattered by the attention of MeWorld. I am not the center of the world and everything is not all about me.
I see people who cannot help themselves to be the center of attention, flatteries encourage them to pursue living a a senseless life. They create and do all these real and reel experience and accumulate unnecessary things just to be "in" and "be one."
There is so much more than that, we need to expand our lives outside the confinements of our computer screen and experience life as it comes. Technology can just be a "tool" to reach further but not necessary the life we need to live. Outside the confines of our computer screen is a world that has so much more to offer than "clicks and scrolls," experiencing life as we see, hear, smell and touch it will heighten our sense of oneness and participation in the ever evolving world around us.
We can see that the world revolves, but not for us, but for itself and we are just a part of it. Enclosing ourselves and creating the mini world and create a make believe self will deprive us of the "real" importance of a role that we play in the reality of life.
I used to stay home the whole two day weekend, but nowadays, I make sure I go out go around the block, my immediate vicinity, the city, feel the sun, see the sights, hear the sound and often I take them home with me, through the pictures I capture in my camera.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My World Through My Eyes - A Photo Blog

Hi guys, I created a new blog and called it My World Through My Eyes, and it's about my passion, photography. I'll posting there some shots I made both raw and edited (depends on my mood and inspiration) and hopefully you'll find it as interesting.

(Click on the Photo)

Do check it out, now and then and I would really appreciate your critiques and comments.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do - A Post Hajj Holiday Result

It's been a week now since the Hajj holidays had ended and what did I do? Like all plans, when you laid it all out on your table, making sure each detail was thought meticulously...will almost always never happen. I never went anywhere, well except a few trips around the neighborhood for some photo opps, but mostly within the confines of my own room.
I did clean and rearranged my room, washed and ironed most my clothes and threw away some clutter and unnecessary things!
I did find some time to finish some books that had been collecting dusts on my bookshelf. I did watched movies and television series. Sleep, sleep and sleep. Had some "fun," well a few, sorry, can't help it! I found time for myself, as in just for myself.
Talking about time for myself, I had some inner searching and and thought a lot about my life for the past few years. Yes, here I go again, reviewing what I did and did not do. The mistakes I did and whether I learned from them or worst, repeat the same mistakes!
I had some hits and misses, there where highlights and low times. But I came to a question which I never know the answer to - what do to do when I don't know what do?
I don't know what to do next. I know that there are people out there  who don’t know what to do with their lives and those who constantly wonder when they're going to figure out the answer. We are all in the same boat, and whether we sink together or swim for our dear life is up to us. I don't know how many times have I asked myself that same question, I lost count. Sometimes I asked myself, "maybe I'd be a writer," and will try my best to write, but soon, because I get easily distracted, I lost interest and leave it.
There isn’t a day that goes by during the holidays without me wondering privately or aloud, what I should do with my life. I thought about it multiple times a day. It’s become worse looking back in years for a few reasons. One is due to the fact that I’ve realised that I cannot do what I am doing now forever as it simply isn’t stimulating enough for me to do all day for decades. The other reason is as I see around me and see the people I know and used to know (Facebook)  moving into the next phase of their lives and I feel the desire to move into the next phase of my life too. Deciding what form that meaningful interaction will take is more of a challenge than I’d bargained for.
In the end, I had understoond that it is a process of discovery, about ourselves and what we want. It’s not as simple as taking a career test. It is a process of trial and error. It is a journey. We’ve been taught that we should have this figured out for the most part by the time we leave school, which is crazy. It is natural to feel frustrated and despairing. But when we start to feel hopeless, there is always that voice inside us that we need to listen to and follow, over and over, for this voice will be our guide, we have to trust ourselves and what are we capable of, detach from our mind and emotions of trying to think hard and reaching the height of our frustrations, instead feel our uniqueness for the fact we have arrived to this question we are someone special. The majority of people don’t ask themselves this question, they’re quite happy to work along within what everyone else is doing, and if they’re not happy, they will find ways to justify what they’re doing. Let us inspire ourselves, there are a lot of books to read, blogs, movies even songs to alleviate our frustrations and hopelessness and lastly we need to act on it. When we don’t know what to do for sure, try something that might be on the right path. Think of maybe changing into a different career and that there's a need to retrain. This may seem like a waste of time, but the important thing is that it started some momentum which may begin to feel like action is possible. From this learn a little more about what's needed to do, and find another lead about what to do next, and see how begins the move forward and how begins a feeling of excitement about the journey again.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Complaints of Discontent

Discontent, are we familiar with this word? When was the last time we settled with something just to "upgrade" it with something else? Times are harder and money just passed by our hands, but the troubles of discontent breaks us in many ways we could ever know, given that we notice and believe me, we never noticed.
I came across an article written by another blogger named Mirella from Perth, Australia  and it struck me how discontentment really took charge of our lives. So having read it, I thought about my life and how I relate with it.
It was not too long ago, maybe many years ago when the advent of modern technology was just a dream and to communicate means to share the same space with another person and talk about an endless array of things. But men are wise and intelligent (also shall I say, generally lazy?) so someone invented the telephone and soon no one needs to leave home to talk to anybody, you just lift up a handset and dial the number away. Then again, men became more intelligent (and also more lazy!) that mobile phones where invented, moderated and made handy that anywhere you are in the world, you can talk to anybody you wished. Where am I heading with this? I used the mobile phone as an immediate sample of how discontent we are. You bet? What's your mobile now? Wasn't it you were just happy with a 3310 Nokia before? Now it's either you're owning and IPhone4 or trying your best to come up with an obscene amount of money to have one. Did I hit home?
I am not washing my hands in any of these for I am guilty as charged. It is hard not to be at par with what is society is coming to, we don't life to be made fun of or taunted and humiliated so we do our best to belong, despite drowning in debt and living way beyond our means. Discontentment is an argument like religion, it's a no win situation, depends on another's point of view and state of being, each has it's owns pros and cons.
Of course one main reason that consumerism was rampant and effective because there was a lot of choice in what we could consume. Advertising and social technologies existed. Do we still remember before that when we bought something it was generally made to last, rather than to be upgraded within a few months?

Whatever the reasons, it seems clear that what consists the good life not so long ago is now considered, at best, the OK life. Unless people are constantly upgrading what they already have, there is always a discontent in our lives. Maybe you feel it, I know that I do.
I like to consider myself a pretty self-aware person. I try to study my motivations and feelings and analyse what’s really going on. Personally I know that when I feel the urge to upgrade and to start looking for something better and newer, it’s to avoid reality.

So why do people feel the need for new things, better things? Is it a real need or a perceived need? I think we can agree it’s most likely we "think" we need it. Once people have spent time and money on buying something they enjoy for a brief period before they begin to feel discontent. It’s a discontent with life and a lack of meaning and fulfilment. Yet, because it’s such a shallow and uncomfortable feeling, without any means to be understood, it gets manifested as an external need. Turning our discontent into a dissatisfaction with what we have means that we now have a real problem to solve. And, solving it often takes time to accomplish and so we put the discontent at bay for a certain amount of time. But they’ll be back the soonest something new were introduced in the market.
Instead of looking for more ways to establish a meaningful life and thinking about our impact on the world as a whole, we take the far easier path of busying ourselves with accumulating more.

I want a new phone, a new car, more shoes and pretty clothes like most people do. And yet I’m also very aware that when I feel a strong need for any of these, there’s something else going on within me. When I start to feel that I need a new something and I start imagining what my life will be like when I have it, I recognise that I’m thirsty for meaning. The feelings are strong and yet the thought of trying to deal something as meaning brings great stress and a sense of urgency to create change. While I don’t know what to do just yet to stop being discontent entirely, the awareness is enough to stop me going too far into wanting and needing more.

The Human Experience

I just finished watching this docu-movie The Human Experience by a bunch of New York City guys and I had a hell of an experience. Sounds exaggerated but in all honesty, it blew me away. It was based on actual "human experience" by these guys that won a lot of awards, citations and recommendations from different groups from political, educational and religious groups from around the world.
What made this movie authentic is that the guys immerse themselves into a world we so much take into a stride, turn our back on and for granted.
We look at our lives as something we have to live in order to be successful in all aspects, career, finances, wealth that we often overlook the most important thing, how to experience to be human. Love, compassion, brotherhood, understanding and peace.
I was in a roller coaster ride of emotions watching the film and it made me look into my life as to what am I here for and what am I supposed to be doing with it. We sometimes assume that is it enough that we have a great job, a house, a car, a nice family and good savings. These are what life is all about, these made us happy. But have you seen life in another perspective? In another man's shoes?
The four young men did and it changed their lives. The movie was divided into four "experiences" and each touched their lives in ways only hearts would know. They became a homeless beggar on the streets of New York, they saw the plight of abandoned and abused children in Lima, Peru, talk and be with people living and dying of AIDS and Leprosy in Africa, and in each segment they share what they have learned and how it touched their lives. The last segment hit home and made me cry, as one of the young men has not seen his abusive alcoholic father for 10 years, and it made him angry, and a set up was made for him to meet his father and confront him. But his experiences mellowed him and softened his heart and the moment he saw his father, he just hugged him and told him how much he loved and misses him and that he already forgave him. It was so heartfelt that my tears kept rolling down my cheeks. Then he told his father about his "human experience" and that the most important thing, whether we experience the good and the bad, life is still good and it is worth living.
Truly a remarkable film, made me think about the things I take for granted and that life is more meaningful when we look at it in another way. Our family is the most important thing, the love we get from them is enough to make us complete and that no matter how we get battered and bruised by life, we can always heal, and recuperate with our family. That to some people, their joy is not found on the things they have but on the things they experience with life. A piece of bread for a homeless person is joy, to play with a boy with no hands and only one leg and see him laugh and learn to master his existing appendage is joy, to see the smiles and the tears of happiness from the people who are sick with no hope of surviving simply because you visit them and you cared is joy. To forgive is joy. I think that's what life is all about, to experience it, to see through the joy and the pain and still keep your heart, to reach out, to feel, to live it out, and to love, that's all that matters, for in the end, no material thing in this world can ever replace our human experience.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

12 Laws of Karma - The Law Of Growth

It simple says that wherever we go, there we are. Known as the Law of Growth, change should always begin with ourselves. If we try to escape life in order to flee from any situation, it will be pointless because the problem is ourselves. Wherever I  go, I will still be "there" with all my issues and problems.
Our human nature often suggests we have the power to change everything and everyone around us, this law says that we have to start with ourselves instead. Because it is the beginning of true growth toward clarity, enlightenment and eventually fulfillment. It will be easy to change circumstances outside ourselves in the hope of finding peace and joy, in reality that true peace and joy come when we change ourselves, inside and out, that will affect everything around us.

A 9-Day Hajj Holiday Activities and Reflections

At last, it is the start of a 9-day no-work day! It is my hope that it would be filled with exciting activities and productivity, creativity and inner-searching.
I have some plans going in and out of Riyadh with people here, will practice photography and dare to collect as many pictures as possible and have it critiqued and selected for my plan of holding my own mini photo exhibit when I go home for a vacation next year.
Be creative and try to redo my room and finish some projects I already put on hold for quite sometime. Organize clutter in my room and in my mind!
Finish some books, hang out do movie marathons,  and the rest would be for sleeping and resting.

But I will try to find time to reflect about my life here in Saudi Arabia, up to this point I still don't know if I am a success or a failure here. I must admit four years is less time to evaluate, but I know myself, when I start to ask questions about my existence in a particular place and time, it is time to think, to weight things, the pros and cons.

To start with my reflections I will admit is that I failed tremendously in establishing friendships here. I think there is something wrong with me. Maybe I try to get too close and eventually got too comfortable and didn't think about the words I say and things I do offends. Maybe because I always see the bad first before the good, and no matter how I bring up the good, the bad always turns me off. Maybe sometimes I talk too much and too little. I really don't know, but I am left with almost nobody here. It is lonely.

I hope these holidays will bring some good in me, irregardless. Will let you know in these coming days.