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The teacher’s Diary: kintsugi, the philosophy of my choice

As a philosophy, kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.source: Wikipedia

No one escapes life unbroken. We all come across hardships and tragedies that break something within our soul. Most of the times, when we move on, we carry the scars with us and try to hide them, pretending they’re not there. We feel compelled to act “normal” and “forget” what we went through. And most of the time, we fail!

I am now convinced that this is really what we do wrong: moving on does not mean hiding what we went through as if nothing ever did, but it means embracing our mistakes and scars and experiences as part of who we are. Those scars, when accepted, will define who we are because they are so special and cannot be repeated or recreated ever again. When we accept the beauty of our imperfections, the artful combination of our shortcomings and insecurities will finally stop haunting us and start to become a source of pride and hope.

As a teacher, I strive to teach this philosophy to my kids and live by it every single day. Life becomes much easier when we accept that mistakes are bound to happen, and learning from those mistakes will always make us better people.

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Ahmad: A Lesson In Humanity!

There is no doubt that life always has a way of surprising you.. My most recent surprise was meeting Ahmad.

I have met Ahmad in a recent humanitarian event organized by “We Love Tripoli” which is actually a group of volonteers working on improving our beloved city ,Tripoli, in many aspects.

Each year, we plan two iftars for orphans in Ramadan, usually coming from the poorest places. We decided to make it more like a fun day, an outing where we first play some games until it’s time for the meal. This takes place in a restaurant where most kids like to go: Macdonald’s or Burger King.

I went for that iftar in Macdonald’s on friday the 27th expecting to give…  instead, I gained!

Ahmad was part of the 6 kids group I was in charge of. From the very first minute, I liked him. His enthusiasm charmed me. Before the games, I made a deal with my kids: we are there to win!! The competition always gives a fun and exciting aspect to the games. He was so thrilled he came directly to me, full of self confidence and said: “I promise you we will- ma 3layki”.. It was so touching.. he said it as if by winning he would be doing his part.. During the games, this enthusiasm never failed him.. he was so eager to please me, and midway through the event, he became very possessive of me: each time we passed one of his friends he would smile that big smile of his and proudly announce:”this is Farah”.. He was showing me off!!

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As time passed, I got a bit tired and we had to wait before our turn came. I decided to sit on the floor with my kids around me, and play a small game of Q  & A. It seemed only fair that game should be about Ramadan.. I asked about the name of the month, how long it lasted, then I asked what was so special about this month.. his innocent answer shook me to the core.. he said “restaurants”!! He said so many things in this simple word that I was hardly able to control my tears.. It was his way of telling me he was happy, that the event was special to him, and to remind me of how different his life is… I had little time to recover however, It was time for that game and they asked us to go.. I complained about not being able to get up, he sweetly stood up in front of me and extended his little hand to help..” ana bse3dek!” .. and the event went on.. I was amazed at how much humanity can be packed in such a small frame.. I kept watching him closely.

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When it was meal time, Ahmad had another surprise for me. On the table he shared with his team, he was eating his meal peacefully when his friend complained he finished and wanted more.. I was going to get him another meal but before i could do anything, I watched Ahmad as he gave him half his own.. ” ana bshba3 bsr3a, khod nes li ma3i”.. He gave!! In a place where he should be given.. that simple act was the most generous of deeds!!

Before Ahmad left, he hugged me, thanked me and blew kisses from his bus seat at me.. It was a very difficult goodbye for me.. because I knew what waited for him back there, I knew how difficult his life is.. I knew that tonight he went for that cold bed of his, feeling happy and content, dreaming about tomorrow, and I also knew that slowly ,cold realities will be forced on him as he grew up..  That 9 year old boy was so full of life, so content, so sweet , so caring.. He had so much less than a normal kid his age, but really was a better human than any of us.

I have expected to feel bad meeting my kids, I expected to read the need in their eyes and the hunger for attention, but Ahmad taught me that you  are never too young or too poor to be a better person…

I wish that Ahmad reads this sometime in his life.. This is my way, dear Ahmad, to thank you for the most touching lesson of humanity I have ever learnt! God bless you sweet boy, and may He grant you the happy life you deserve…