I just came back from being in Lebanon for two weeks. I was born in Saudi Arabia but I am Lebanese. I lived in Saudi for 11 years, then in Lebanon for seven and then the US for 17 so far. I consider the US to be my home, but Lebanon is where I am from and will always be a strong part of who I am. I hadn’t been back in seven years, so it was something I was definitely going to do this year. I took my boys and made the trek half-way across the world on my own. My husband followed us to stay the last few days of the trip.
Lebanon was awesome!
It was fantastic to be back in Lebanon. My family is huge. My aunts, cousins and friends were over constantly. We had fantastic dinners on our balcony which overlooks Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea. My eight month old niece was there and we looked forward to playing with her every day. I took my boys to see Jeita Grotto which is nominated to be of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Check out the website at www.new7wonders.com . It is absolutely fascinating! We went to water parks, beaches, dinners and kids play areas. I went out with my husband and friends to over-crowded, smoky clubs that played amazing music until four o’clock in the morning. We got up the next day at 8 a.m. and took my boys to the beach. We were there Lebanese style!
I still have a lot of meditating to do!
I realized how much work I still had to do on maintaining my calm though. Driving in Lebanon is extremely stressful. People drive fast and don’t obey any traffic signs. My brother made me laugh when he said that traffic signs and speed limits are merely suggestions of what you need to do. No one is ever given a ticket for anything. People pass you although it’s a blind curve, they may pull up behind you going 90 miles an hour while flashing there lights for you to move over, they may drive the wrong way on a street because it’s more convenient for them, they may park their car anywhere they feel is suitable regardless of how much it congests traffic, should I go on?
Needless to say, I lost my cool more that once while driving. I actually flipped a lady off and went into a cussing rage for a minute or so before realizing that I had two stunned boys sitting in the back seat wondering what just happened to their mother. I realized that the topic of conversation was the traffic anywhere I went for at least the first 15 minutes. I heard of seven fatalities due to speeding while I was there.
At first, people driving nuts and the lack of respect for any lines drove me nuts. I was in line to buy my boys ice cream when a lady steps to the front of the line to buy her groceries. I called her out on it because darn it, I am American and that is just not acceptable. She actually yelled at me saying that all it took was a minute and what’s the big deal. I was somewhat stunned that she actually felt that it was her right to do so. It actually took me over an hour to get my son a burger at the water park because so many cut the line in front of me. That’s the kind of stuff that sends me over the edge.
I eventually did take a chill pill
I have blogged about my boundary contract several times before. While in Lebanon I realized that “boundaries” or lack of them, I should say, is everywhere. People stand really close to one another, they have no problem smoking and puffing in your face, it’s totally cool to cut any line and so on. However it’s the lack of boundaries that makes a security officer hold my sleeping son while I’m going through security to help me out. And the same quality that makes people go out of their way to invite you over for dinner and not take no for an answer. Lebanese people in general are warm, caring and loving. While at the airport, an older gentleman went and got my boys some water because he felt bad for them.
I had to take a chill pill and realize that this is a country that has been through decades of war and if the by-product was a little bit of chaos, well then that’s a big so what. I told my cousin, it’s easy for me to be calm and centered in Colorado, the challenge is to maintain in amongst the chaos. Clearly I failed. It always has to start with me. I’ll bet if I didn’t let the traffic get to me so much, I wouldn’t have had as many instances with it.
I love Lebanon!
It’s good to be home, but I miss Lebanon; I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss the late-night dinners, I miss the beaches and water parks and I miss the great food at every street corner. I love everything about Lebanon. I do have to say that I don’t miss the chaos of driving. The next time I go back which hopefully will be really soon, I will start off with a better attitude. Hopefully, I’ll be able to maintain my “Colorado calm” throughout the entire stay.
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Back to meditating!