Wednesday, October 11, 2023

On playing - not just in a different field - but a totally different game.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly based on Georges Schehade's work

So obviously, as of late, I have not been at my utmost best mentally and psychologically. But rest assured, I am not imagining any of it, my problems are real and true. Still, I often go back to that one week on the fall semester of my graduating year at AUB, and yes that was October 1995, where things became clear for me. 

On Monday, sometime during the second or so week of the semester, our soil teacher came whistling a tune. it was "I don't like Mondays" and he sarcastically asked us what this had to do with soil science. I raised my hand - obviously he was annoyed. "Yes, Chemaly?" he asked exasperated. "The song is by the Boomtown Rats and their lead singer is Bob Geldof who, along with Midge Ure, wrote "Do they know it's Christmas time?" after seeing a documentary about famine in Sudan." "A documentary about soil erosion is Sudan, you are usually a pain in the butt Chemaly, but that was a good answer".

Then came Thursday and the statistics course, the teacher was explaining the importance of sampling and he gave the example of how a newspaper in the US predicted the results wrong due to a wrong sample of their readers but admitted he forgot what title it was. To which I said "It was the headline, Dewey Defeats Truman".

Christiane, who was with me in both courses and who was a habitual presence on the dean's honor list which I only saw once looked at me with her enormous eyes and said admiringly: "chou bek hal semester?" (What's with you this semester?). Interestingly, that week showed me something very important: I was not destined for the same things as the rest of my class was.

Yesterday, I went to Linkedin and started scrolling to see what people from my graduating class were doing: Poultry, food safety, landscape, irrigation, many recycled themselves in environment and so on and so forth. Do note that for some odd reason, none of them are connections of mine so I had to actually research where they were at. Sure, I know what you are thinking, me who left agriculture to go into communication must have a ting of regret especially that 2023 was a disastrous year work-wise.

Actually, the reverse happened. I kept thinking - wait, I saw the Monza Grand Prix from the starting grid, I slept in the medieval room on that monastery turned hotel in Sweden, I exhibited my artwork in too many countries, I published all those books, my film was screened on the opening night of the Beirut Film Festival, I lectured in so many universities and counseled too many students, I was quoted in innumerable number of newspapers and outlets, and the list goes on and on.

Well more interesting than food safety and irrigation for sure.

Yes, I know, this still does not fix my daily woes, but even now, with the deluge of problems on all sides, I can still walk with my head high knowing I have lived the most exciting of lives. Sure, I have not travelled in a long while due to a combination of logistic reasons, but do you know that nightclub which only opens at midnight in the historic fortress in Corfu? Or have you been invited to a lunch which turned out to be a banquet in your honor? Has your book made it to the frontpage of the biggest-selling newspaper in Denmark - on the Sunday edition no less? Do you still voice your opinions on the oldest still-running blog in Lebanon with thousands upon thousands of readers?

You know what? I have. 

Beat this.