Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary in Qatar

Any kind of moisture is a precious commodity in the Middle East--whether it is a wadi/oasis, well, or a precious drop of rain. This last week the children in my son's school who take Islamic Studies prayed for rain.  These prayers mirror centuries of their nomadic ancestors.  I was told by my Arabic friend today that Muslims have been praying for rain here recently, and to have two rainstorms in one week has added to many children's jubilance--including my own inner childlike joy.

A local artist's rendition of a desert oasis.  Believe me, these scenes are few and far between, but we are constantly on the lookout for them!
Today I was with some young children, and one of them excitedly exclaimed to their mom, "Look, Mom, it's raining. See the drops," as he looked up to the sky. You see, when you live in Qatar, raindrops are a marvel, a heralded event, a reason to celebrate.  The mom, my friend, was in a hurry, and replied in an incredulous way, "No, honey, it's not raining." But her four year old son insisted, "But Mom, it is too raining.  If you can't see it looking up, look down."

He was indeed right. A minute later we saw some flecks of rain sprinkled on the street and wet polkadot craters in the sand.  A little misty drizzle was swooping in to give us a surprise in this place--where the blazing sun could make a desert lizard want to be a tropical one. There was a leap of uninhibited joy from all of us, just from mere sprinkles of water in this arid land.

I planted bougenvillas to climb the gray, plain walls.
In our "compound" pool during the rainstorm,  there were children drenched from the sky as they swam--even puddles are an ever so thrilling sight here! What used to be for me a very normal, ordinary raincloud is now a cause to awe.

These past weeks the rain has reminded me to look for the delightful, the humorous, the beautiful in the everyday routines and rhythms of life.  As Mitch Albom states in his book, One More Day, "You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute"--where the ordinary transcends to the extraordinary."

My experiment these past weeks to discover the beauty in the common, everyday sights has reminded me of the color and grandness in this part of the world.  It is teaching me to be watchful for the exceptional that can happen in a split second--while knowing that I have to awaken my senses and awareness of the world around me. The pleasure of a desert sunset, the burst of a blooming flower, the marvel at watching young men learn to swim are all things that make me feel more alive, more happy.

Watching some young Pakistani in their late 20's swim for the first time in the Persian Gulf

The flowers blossoming on the trees in Qatar now.
Walter Isaacson wrote of Albert Einstein, “Throughout his life,  (he) would retain the intuition and the awe of a child. He never lost his sense of wonder at the magic of nature's phenomena-magnetic fields, gravity, inertia, acceleration, light beams-which grown-ups find so commonplace. He retained the ability to hold two thoughts in his mind simultaneously, to be puzzled when they conflicted, and to marvel when he could smell an underlying unity. "People like you and me never grow old," he wrote a friend later in life. "We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”   

We adults need to strive to maintain that curiosity, surprise, and awe that heightens our souls.  I think it is one of the gifts of never growing old--internalizing the wonder and intrigue around you.  It is viewing with the eyes of a child that anything extraordinary can rain down upon you anytime--even when you live in a desert.

This is my daughter's piano teacher, Sister Alice Eugene Tighe, who is 98 years old  in this picture.  She received a Ph.D in music at University of Michigan and studied in France.  She climbed into our van several times in her mid-80's to go to piano competitions that crossed several states.  Her excitement for learning, and teaching music never escaped her--until her last breath.  She instilled a love of music to  several generations  of students--even sending a few off to Julliard.  I  never saw her without a thirst to learn more, and then to share. The world was endlessly fascinating to her.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm catching up on your posts! I remember Sister Alice from April and Summer's recital. It sounds like she passed away? Love the rain....LOVE the snow!!