Over the past few months I’ve gotten really close to a fellow grad student. She has become my confidant and partner in crime. I don’t think I’ll ever share the same kind of relationship with another person.. I just wanted to make sure my rarely used blog has this moment in its archives, so when after grad school I’m blessed again with the luxury of time I can go back and explain more how great it is to have a true friend like her.
Today is the is the 6th day of the 3rd week of our last semester (Inshallah). Its ticking away so quickly..
While I was complaining one day to one of my closest friends about the black and white nature of my emotions, he suggested that perhaps I should consider myself on more of a gradient, perhaps that would be easier to bear..
Messages like these scare and fascinate me.. I mean we live in the first real age in which a total and complete stranger can reach out to you from no where.. its interesting.. and bizarre.. I almost want to create a fake account just study these people.. What does it mean to them to connect with strangers? Do they really form genuine feelings for these people? What drives them to do this? Boredom? Sex? An inability to reach out to people in the flesh? So interesting, so bizarre..
This year at VCUQ I was able to do something I’d been wanting to do for a long time, which was working with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. At the beginning of the year I joined Best Buddies of Qatar where I was paired with the sweetest soul I could ever ask for as a friend. I can’t fully express right now how or why meeting and working with Aisha represent a step in the direction of my thesis, but I know it belongs in my 60 day challenge. I’m just not ready to talk about it yet.
There we sat, the five of us, on the last day of our field study, in a Muslim run Italian restaurant in the heart of Amsterdam. Not wanting the night to end one of us suggested a game of truth or dare. However after reviewing the types of dares that might be suggested we decided to stick with playing our slightly modified version of the traditional game. It was that game that finally allowed us to put down the masks we so desperately clung to every day of our lives. For a short while in Amsterdam we allowed ourselves to be seen as exactly who we are.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
It wasn’t until a few weeks after Amsterdam that I realized that I wanted to change my thesis direction. It wasn’t until after the semester had ended that I found this image from my trip to Amsterdam. Out of all the totem poles in that park I only photographed that one, I only cared about that one.. It seems to me looking back on a great many things in my life that I’ve always been headed in the same direction. Perhaps its time I stopped worrying about where I am going and starting trusting that I’ll get there regardless.
My school has an amazing habit of setting up all these interesting workshops and lectures through out the year. Though towards the end of the semester I didnt have time to make it to even the lectures I really wanted to hear, on the second day after we flew back from Amsterdam I attended a workshop that I had signed up for weeks earlier. Honestly I was surprised I had the energy, but it was really worth it. The workshop was by the Beaded Prayer Project.
The name of the Project comes from the shared etymology of the words “bead” and “prayer.” In Old English, biddan, from which “bead” is derived, means “to ask” or “to pray.” The concept for creating packets with potent contents was inspired by traditions among different peoples from Africa and the African Diaspora.
In this workshop we were given pieces of fabric, bits of string, and some beads. Each person wrote a prayer on a square of paper, placed it in the fabric, and stitched it up with string and beads. After walking around the gallery a few times I decided I wanted to make something really special, and I wanted to play with the properties of fabric (yup, my materials class was always on my mind). Anyway, I knew I wanted to make something out of an Origami fold, but what? When I wrote my prayer, realized it was mostly about achieving inner peace and happiness, and so I decided it had to be a crane (which is a symbol for happiness in wisdom).
We only had 45 minutes to put our prayers together (did I mention we had to make two? One for ourselves, and one for them? though we could keep both or give both).. had I known how long it took to fold and sew each fold I may not have done it.. thank God for ignorance.. In the end everyone in my group got to hang our prayers on the same wall.. it felt nice having my prayer mix with everyone esles. And the whole process of setting down to sew was very calming.. I really enjoyed it.. hope they come back next year 🙂
Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah posted the images from their DAI Cultural Season 16. They apparently visited Dar Jehan in Jabriya and had a calligraphy workshop. I regret not signing up, I’ve always wanted to learn calligraphy. If you have never been to the Dar you’ve truly missed out on one of Kuwait’s finest cultural activities. For more info on their weekly events visit their website here.