God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I’ve never considered myself to be a religious person, but this Serenity Prayer seemed to fit my life right now. Allow me to explain:
Things I cannot change:
– I am not regarded as an equal in this country. I am a woman. I am not Muslim. And I am from America. I suppose I could jump up and down and break into my rendition of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better…”……but that would make me look like a supreme butthead in which I would then look at my reflection in the mirror and yell, “GET OVER YOURSELF!” Growing up as a white woman in the states has not given me the perspective I probably should have at this point in my life. Here- I’m gaining an “ah-ha” moment of perhaps what it feels like to be snubbed for any perceived diversity. I think that the Western civilization often takes women’s liberation for granted. While I don’t claim to be a feminist, I do consider myself to be a strong, independent woman. I can throw a mean spiral, roundhouse kick someone to the head, carry my own bags, and belch louder than most men. SO THERE. I will live here knowing that. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I know who I am and I will respect their beliefs, knowing that they are rooted in religion and history. I will quite my inner child from yelling, “but….but….that’s not fair!……”
Things I will do my best to change:
-First of all, there is an impatience here that is astonishing. The driving here would frighten the toughest New York cabbie. I do a little “Hail Mary” every time I cross a crosswalk, knowing there are always a handful of cars that accelerate when they see me step onto the asphalt. I close my eyes every time I’m in a car that is trying to merge. People here do not want to be behind anyone, so it often turns into a pissing contest. Yuck…just, yuck. There is also a lot of cutting and shoving aside in any type of line. No apologies. No “excuse me.” Not cool. While I can’t change the adults here- and yes, I have tried- I am in a position to teach the next generation. I swore that my first class rule was to teach my students how to wait their turn patiently and say “EXCUSE ME” and “I’M SORRY.” I’d like to state, proudly, that I have been fairly successful…..at least inside my classroom. They often forget when they leave, but, hey- it’s a start.
I also can work hard at not perpetuating the rudeness. I find that our surroundings can morph us into what we see. But I will continue trying to not become this. Rise above it, right? Working on it.
Overall, there is an attitude here that is vastly different from our “DO IT NOW” mentality in the states. Everywhere in America, we are in a hurry to do something. We demand service, and complain loudly if it doesn’t happen immediately. Have you ever been to a restaurant, and they bring you appetizer, dinner and dessert before anything is finished? And while you take your first bite, they check is in front of you as you are being glared at to hurry so they can seat the next table? Well- that ain’t happenin’ here! Holy cow. I’m fairly certain there is no Arabic translation for “prompt.” Which seems odd, due to what you see on the road! Nevertheless- appointments are often canceled. People often leave you waiting….for HOURS before attending to you, and you may have to ask many, many, many times if you want something done. But, you know what? In some situations, prompt isn’t always the best way. I think that my Type A is being challenged to lighten the heck up. I see a balance for me happening. There are times I want to stomp, yell and scream and say HURRY UP, ALREADY! But there is a softer, calmer side of me that wants to emerge and say CALM DOWN. And yes, I do find myself saying “Insha’Allah” a whole lot here. (see earlier post)
And when things do finally go my way, I say, “Alhamdulillah.”