I’ve been on a conscious quest for surrender in the past three weeks. Surrender has come to mean two things to me: Offering what I’m grasping tightly to the Divine, and keeping my chest wide open to receive what comes in it’s place. It’s a hard practice if you’re wired to believe that you are responsible for everything that happens in your life. You are responsible for your experience. You are responsible for your progress. You are responsible for finding a great apartment so you need to be on Dubizzle 24 hours a day toggling those filters and calling an endless line-up of agents who may or may not be shifty individuals.
But I am not responsible. Not entirely. I am responsible for intention and inspired action. Everything else in between is the Divine’s playground. I am also responsible for those recurring melancholy thoughts that I have about how the Divine cheating me of the things that I want. I have the power to give up this kind of thinking as an offering so that I can make room unconditional love.
After the struggles of my first week here, I went around practicing surrender like I practice yogic breath. Give it up as an offering, open up to receive. Give it up as an offering, open up to receive. I practiced giving some of the hardest things to give up: Who the man I would share my life with would be, the idea that my lifestyle should always be free-spirited and connected with nature, the belief that I do NOT love material things (ooh that lamp is pretty…). I give it all up as an offering, I open up to receive.
And while I was busy practicing like a pregnant lady in a lamaz class, I met Dima.
Enter Dima. Dima is an old schoolmate of mine who used to sit in front of me in class. Whenever the teacher left the class, she would twist around to talk about books, politics, the Palestinian crisis and a myriad of other topics.
Dima has long luscious inky black hair that frames a superior intelligent face. She used to be more elfish in school but life gave her curves and dimples. Back then, I thought of her as one of the coolest most genuine people I ever met. We hadn’t seen each other in eleven years but, having spent three hours and a half in non-stop conversation with her yesterday, it seems that I still think the same of her.
We settled into “Friends Avenue”, the superfood eatery, tucked into the JLT district. I was curious to see how Dima and I would mesh after all these years. I did not expect us both to sink our teeth right away into the heart of it. I found out that Dima and I had experienced almost the same spiritual and emotional journey in our lives since we left school. She told me about how she took off her hijab and how she navigated her way through a rapidly changing belief system. We both took off our Hijab in the US and we both experienced a major energetic and spiritual shift in our lives spent there. We both had the same trouble afterwards with our families. The clashes were rife. The emotional ride was similar from fear, to defiance, to acceptance, to compassion and…finally…freedom.
We shared our boy trouble. Similar stories. Surprise, surprise. I told her about my recent woes. I told her how I was feeling deeply the loss of someone’s love and the loss of a friendship. She slipped into her energy field immediately and merged it with mine. Her eyes teared up, pink on the edges. She took my hands. Dima is a strong woman but her hands are very soft. I let myself land there in the palms of her hands. Open up to receive.
I’ve been having trouble finding a place. I went all over Dubai looking at apartments and then I realized that I didn’t want to live in a high rise building. My heart felt tighter and tighter just imagining it. I want to live close to the ground, close to the Earth and the trees and the birds in those trees. So I set that intention, despite the sweaty misgivings of my older self that is so used to being disappointed. I gave it as an offering.
One of the real estate agents I called answered me. I had an expansive feeling as I joined him in his car so he can take me to the Greens area, right by Tecom. Greens. The buildings were all low rises there and so many apartments were close to the ground with balconies that overlooked the lush greenery in between.
He showed me into the apartment and it was like the sun rose inside my chest after a month and a half of searching. The sun had certainly risen inside the apartment. There were two big windows in the living room and one of them had a large balcony that overlooked an expanse of thick trees. They filled up the spaces in lush conglomerates between the neighboring buildings. Between them there was a curvy walkway that would be heavenly in spring. Open up to receive.
And speaking of trees, I was supposed to meet my Friend Sharia yesterday after work. I like Sharia very much. She’s one of those down-to-earth individuals that make their company effortless. I was very tired and starving after work and I slightly resented the fact that we get out so late so that social meet-ups are not as light and enticing as they should be. I plopped onto a seat at a little french bakery, where Sharia agreed to meet me, and I ordered. I was too hungry for the niceties. Sharia arrived a little later and we slipped into conversation quite easily, like that last time we saw each was not a year ago. I gave my tiredness as an offering…and I wondered…
Later, she asked me if I minded if we stopped by the Virgin Megastore because she needed to pick something up. As we delved deeper into the store, I saw a small section that - my heart started clapping here - sold smart potted herbs and greens.
I’ve had a dream since childhood that has always been tucked away in a little hopeful chest in my heart. I’ve always wanted a garden. I’ve carried out many attempts to plant my own garden but nothing grew in Saudi Arabia and that was one of my first tastes of disappointment.
In The Secret Garden, Mary Lennox says to her uncle “Might I have a bit of Earth.” A bit of Earth is all I deeply yearned for. My vision before I moved here, was that I would fulfill that temporarily by planting some herbs inside my apartment and I was not sure if those “smart pots” really existed.
When I saw those boxes in the store, I started laughing uncontrollably and crying at the same time. Sharia must have thought I was hysterical. Something in me was released, like a hyperactive child from a pen, something that has been waiting for years, watching for its turn. I pictured those pots in my apartment that had two sunny windows and a lush green view.
But I lost the apartment that I fell in love with. Not for lack of interest, initiative, or even lack of finances, but because of bureaucracy. The agent called a few days later and told me the owner of the apartment gave it to someone else because I was not able to produce a check in time. I slipped out during the work day and found my favorite plot of grass, very close to the smoking benches. I put my head down between my knees and cried.
Please understand that I am well aware that loss is a natural part of life and I had just lost a rare thing in Dubai (with my budget). I had been dreaming of my own place, my own bit of Earth, for a long time. I’d been furnishing it, cooking in it, planting in it in my mind since…I don’t know how long. So loss after loss at the start of this journey in Dubai made me feel like my guidance system was off. I started to doubt. My whole body had opened up when I had walked into this apartment. surely that meant that it was the one? All of the apartments I had walked into left me feeling deflated, some, even nauseous. Surely I was being guided toward the thing I would have and hold?
I realized that, as heartbroken as I was over losing an apartment that was one in a million in this mass-produced city, I was more heartbroken about my broken compass. Was the Universe taunting me? Or was this simply magical thinking on my part? If it was magical thinking…well…why can’t we think magically? Why can’t I be guided this way without decoys in my path? Why would I feel open and warm and right toward something and then have it taken away?
Give it up as an offering. Open up and receive…
I wait for more learning…