Observing without judging is a tricky task for even the most adept practitioner. One takes in details, records them, and in an automated split-second, the brain sometimes delivers a like/dislike response. Such is the nature of the brain, practically binary, with complex gestalts and associations, of course – but at the end of the day, much of how we think, and where conversation flows, is based on a liking or disliking of some subject.
This was how my brain operated before I embarked on a journey of consciousness – or at least, my messy little attempt at it!
So now I’m constantly thinking in the third person. If I were writing a third person narrative, I could get creative with details, context, character analysis and so on. So too with life. But internal dialogue is so important, especially in light of current research clearly proving that our thoughts actually shape our brains. Through meditation (and many other practices) we can actually – consciously – evolve our frontal lobes. Hardcore!
Anyway, point is, we all have the choice, as to who our observer is, if they’re compassionate or judgmental, if they’re fair, articulate, wise, and joyful. Every moment, we’re shaping the character of this observer. Because sometimes, the language and reactions that come naturally to us, they’re simply not speaking to a more evolved self inside.
These thoughts have been swimming in the aquarium of my mind lately – especially now that I’ve been in the UAE over two months and there’s a whole lotta talk about our experiences here. It’s post-honeymoon time. The beach is still gorgeous, the buffet onolicious, and most of the girls are great. But the other observations, unveiled through time and the natural course of things, are beginning to pop up. Do I like it? Do I not? Well, here are a few strange little details about my stay here so far. I like to call the list, UAE Unusual.
1. The products here make for great photos!
2. On a more serious tip … We’re all riding the oil wave here, teachers, nannies, businessmen, hotel works, all of us. And I get it – humans have a dependence on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels made this region rich. We are here because the rich people don’t want to work. OK.
I feel a touch of guilt that my paycheck is somehow the byproduct of the fossil fuel trade. But at least he UAE is funneling their resources to education, technological advancements, green living and a tourism industry unparalleled in modern history. Right.
And then, the side effects of this gross quantity of riches, in a region previously inhabited by fisherman and nomadic desert folk, are iiiiiiinteresting. The words ‘nouveau riche’ keep popping up in my mind. Nothing akin to what may be called the new money in Silicon Valley, where wide-eyed hardworking idealists are making innovations in entrepreneurship and technology. No, no, nothing like that. Believe me, I worked there for a year, and it was a beautiful phenomenon (though harmlessly meaningless to me at the end of the day, and I knew it wasn’t the vibe for me).
This is a more traditional feeling of ‘nouveau riche,’ where outrageous behavior comes unaccompanied by the refinement that develops from years of moneyed socialization. Like the mistreatment of servants, dressing up children in spectacular jewels and makeup, rude behavior toward foreigners, and intense overconsumption. Does that sound harsh? I can see how it might. I don’t mean it in any derogatory way. I’m still trying to understand it, to be honest.
3. It smells like a wet dog here. And I’m not just talking about here, like in this town, or in this part of the country. It smells like a wet dog in Abu Dhabi city as well. You exit the mall, and if the wind is hitting you just wrong way, you’ve got a wet dog’s coat wafting up your innocent little nostrils. Yes, it’s an olfactory invasion of sorts.
4. Flies. They’re kamikaze fighter pilots. Crazy hungry, mad erratic flight pattern desert flies. We’re in the height of their ‘season’ – do they really deserve a ‘season’?? – and no matter where you are these days, they fly straight for face. Or worse yet, your ears. I’m sitting in a five star hotel, in a gorgeous coffee shop overlooking a beach, and three flies are making their rounds in my general vicinity. As I type.
4. The cats are somethin’ nasty. They cry like starving babies, or what I imagine that haunting empty stomached-vibe would sound like. But they must be well-fed since they’re living here in this five star hotel with us. Then again, they’re skinny, overly confident, and rather territorial. Sounds like a nightmare of a bar somewhere in Los Angeles doesn’t it?
5. So many mens. It was kinda funny at first. Then a little off putting. Now I’m just not sure. Too many unwanted stares at the grocery store. Coupled with a few welcome glances from visiting men at the hotel. But they’re just visiting. And they’re out here to ‘have a good time,’ I’m sure. It’s the wrong kinda male attention and I’m looking for my life partner. Don’t think he’ll be hiding out here anywhere!
6. I live in a hotel. This is actually a perk, most of the time. I can’t complain, per se. but I do have some interesting observations to share:
*Buffet eating is a blessing and curse. What better way to learn self-discipline, I suppose, than to have a gargantuan selection of rich international foods at your fingertips every night of every day? “Just one plate.” I swear, it’s a challenge. Thankfully, the miso is too sweet, even for my palate. The grilled veggies sometimes over-salted. Mmm, I miss the creativity and freedom of cooking. Mmmm, yes, yes I do.
*I love not cleaning my bathroom. But I have to be OK with my stuff getting moved around, and the possibility of toilet hands touching my countertops – just how sanitary are they? I’ve seen some awful documentaries on the nastiness that goes on in hotel “cleaning.” Aaack!
*Having so many lady friends is fabulous. I’ve been craving that – big time! But I do miss having the male energy about – and not the kind that’s just trying to get into my supposedly-easy-to-pull-off-American-panties.
8. The desert never seems to end. Especially at 6am.
Of course there are some cultural things I’m still figuring out, but you get that everywhere … and with time, I’ll feel more comfortable blogging about them. I did feel like I was being ambushed when I stepped into my classroom at the beginning of this year – but I’ve come to make peace with my co-teachers. And I appeal to whatever divine is out there, Allah and otherwise, that this cooperation will continue and progress for the best interests of those kawaii little rascals!
So yeah, just a few observations. My kids are getting much more attentive. I finally feel I’m reaching some of them. My accommodation is sweet. I’m teaching yoga twice a week. And I’m making great friends. We’ll see how this cookie crumbles!
Birthday Yoga Beach Bonanza!