Samah Al-Nachawati

Just keep swimming.

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Fleeing the War

My cousin’s son, 9 years old, wrote a story for school about why he and his family fled Syria to America:

BOOM!! A loud terrifying sound scared me and my other schoolmates while we were on the school bus. BOOOOM!!!! A louder and more terrifying sound petrified us. The bus’ supervisor’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing because parents were worried about their children. “We don’t know where the explosions happened,” the supervisor explained. “But we will drive all the students back home.”

A widespread war has started in my country, Syria! Explosions are happening everywhere! So many people have died! People have no homes because they were destroyed by the war. Schools and hospitals have been devastated too. Kids have starved to death. “We can’t live here any longer,” Mom said sadly. “Yes, I think it’s time to go to America. Luckily I am a US citizen,” Dad agreed. So we had to leave Damascus. We had to leave the oldest city in history, the city of Jasmine and peace. I had to leave my home, my bed, my toys, my relatives, my school, and my memories. I left it all behind fleeing the war.

First, my one year old sister, mom, dad, and I went to Jordan by car to get passports and visa to the USA. Then, we took a giant plane to Chicago. I was working on the iPad the entire time trying to forget about leaving home. Finally, we took a smaller plane to Tulsa. A city where we found a new home, nice friends, a good school, and safety.

-Tareq Sewar, 9 years old.


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Vulnerability: “derived from the Latin words ‘vulnus’ meaning ‘wound’ and ‘vulnerare’, meaning ‘to wound’

Found this to be a beautiful reminder on how careful and gentle we must be with each other. How easily we can wound another by either making them feel vulnerable, taking advantage of their vulnerability or not appreciating their courage when they choose to be vulnerable around us.

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It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation

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nodus tollens

n. the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore—that although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t understand, that don’t even seem to belong in the same genre—which requires you to go back and reread the chapters you had originally skimmed to get to the good parts, only to learn that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.”