Note to Self

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Dear Self,

 

You’ve been through some real emotional hells these past few months: separation, divorce, professional fuck-ups, absence from friendships – just to name a few. The first two, I know, have come with a lot of guilt and sadness over a failed marriage. You’ve been on the receiving end of comments tearing you apart, whether it is questioning the truthfulness of your faith or your morality. Did you handle a crumbling marriage in the best way? Looking back, no, you didn’t and you know what, that’s okay; you were being dumb and scared, but you’ve learned from it. Beneath all of the shit thrown at you these days you’re heading in the right direction now. I mean, look at what you’re onto now:

  • Quit drinking
  • Working out consistently
  • Relocating back to the US this summer
  • Writing again
  • Reading again

Seemingly insignificant, but major positive developments when you’re coming back from the void of wanting to do yourself in and being in a foreign country without your core group of family and life-long friends. Keep going and stay focused on the new chapter that’s coming soon.

Ramadan kareem to all my readers who are observing the Holy Month, in whatever way.

New Chapter Ahead

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Sometimes just sharing without censor is best. First things first: I’ll be leaving Doha the first week of July and heading back to the US. Without going into much detail (if you’d like to know more, we can chat in-person), the first five month’s of 2017 have been eye opening and got me thinking maybe now is a time to focus on healing myself and being with my family after 3 years of life here.
That said, this Ramadan will be my last in Doha, and I cannot think of a better way of celebrating a new chapter than spending it with people like you. I’d love to set up a time for iftar, suhoor, or whatever else post-sunset haha.

What comes next for me is not fully known, but I trust that it’ll be ok in the end.

Open Call: New Doha-Based Zine, “Dispatches from the Dust”

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In an era where humankind seems hellbent on erecting walls between people to safeguard a mythical “past,” pushing back by bringing people together is all the more important than ever. Personally, I have been waffling a lot about talking publicly about starting up a zine (think a do-it-yourself version of your favorite print magazine) in Doha, a place that seems to prefer maintaining siloed communities over a shared sense of belonging. Popular among cultural outsiders globally, this medium allows contributors to put to paper their thoughts on all sorts of topics, including environmentalism, social issues, religion, and art, to name a few.

What am I envisioning for “Dispatches from the Dust?”

I would like this to be a space that allows for collaboration across the diverse ethno-cultural/religious communities present in this city and for individuals to share their creative works that is intentionally offline. As someone who works professionally in the social media field, I think we are losing a bit of perspective on our lives and getting lost in navel-gazing (yes, I am guilty of this, too). With that in mind, I want to create something together, have it be multi-lingual, multi-discipline (drawings, poetry, short stories, photography) – whatever speaks to you. One request would be to avoid the following topics as they are already talked about ad nauseam: shopping, malls, materialism.

The final product, which resembles a photocopied, bifold pamphlet spanning multiple pages, would be published quarterly (think this is realistic with people being busy elsewhere in their lives).

Interested? Let me know what you would like to contribute.

Send me a direct message here: andrew.clark212@gmail.com

Back to Writing

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Amid the craziness of this past week, particularly the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and some personal stuff, I have been reflecting a lot on something heard on the Philosophize This! podcast. One specific episode, which I found timely to what is currently playing out back home, focused on French writer Albert Camus and his perspective on confronting the “Absurd.” Not to be confused with its colloquial use, this concept is something more: it is the premise that the universe is inherently meaningless, yet humans perpetually seek meaning in it.

Seems like a bummer, no? Yes, and according to Camus and other so-called existentialist, this presents all of us with a choice: suicide (physical or philosophical), a leap of faith (my personal choice), or recognition (Camus’ choice). To put it simply, Camus felt that the latter was the only defensible position, where an individual acknowledged the Absurd and sought meaning through living life unshackled by absolutes. Although I choose to embrace another path, that of adhering to a religious interpretation of the universe, I share in the writer’s pursuit of finding beauty amid a world seemingly cold towards humanity.

This feels especially relevant in the era of rising (insert term)-phobia, be it Islamophobia, generalized xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia. As a former history major, one of the sad truths of human’s existence is that fear, usually unfounded in actual facts, dictate individuals’ reactions to uncertain times. What is occurring in the wake of President Trump’s ascendency embodies familiar characteristics, namely the manipulation of popular discontentment and anxieties stemming from a world that appears ambivalent towards many. Unable to fully accept that the vision of a mythical America of the past has always been a fabrication and that an increasingly unregulated market economy has left them without work (and by extension, dignity IMO), many of those elated by current events choose to direct their energies towards individuals who are not to blame, i.e. minority groups. For a segment of society that claims to be making “America Great Again,” it is not addressing the real issues at hand, perpetuates the worst of human behavior, and plays nicely into the hands of someone who will probably sell everyone out in the end.

TL;DR: Dear Trump supporters, admit it; this guy you elected is not going to fix what is really hurting you and keeps you angry. Realize that the people you terrorize, curse on the street, and assault probably have more in common with you than you choose to believe.

 

Dua’a

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Why is that kin often fight the hardest?
Brother holding brother to the ground; sister caught between the two,
Ya Allah, have you not seen how man cannot stay his hand or mouth?
Might you intercede and awaken both from their blinding rage?
This I humbly ask of you tonight.

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Ramadan #9: Living Out the Words We Speak

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Ramadan #9: Living Out the Words We Speak

It has only been a week since arriving in Doha but I am beginning to discern the spectrum of experiences present in this small peninsular country: between the almost surreal wealth and the absolute poverty. Tonight’s experience on my drive home, however, showed that amid these two extremes there does exist much grey area, where people come together for the sake of helping another human being and go against the grain of what is perceived as acceptable social interactions. The thing I am referencing is a refrigerator placed out of a Qatari family’s villa that is meant as a depository for food/drink donations that can be taken by whomever needs them.

The location, which is just north of the Chamber of Commerce along a slip road, is something that probably escaped many individuals passing by, which I believe adds to the sincerity of the action done by this family. After placing some food in the fridge, which has two little signs hanging inside (one in English; the other in Arabic), I left thinking about how this exhibited a Muslim virtue of giving charity without seeking praise.  Moreover, the slightly obscure location, in my opinion, preserves the pride of those taking from the fridge as people can come and go whenever without it being a spectacle.

So why share this? Well, for one, if you are in Doha and have leftovers that can be packaged or the ability to purchase food/drinks, I would encourage you to drop off supplies. Feel free to message for a map of the location. If you are not currently in Doha, I hope that you might be inspired to do something similar wherever you are. Through small, sustained actions I firmly believe bigger changes and consciousness-raising can be achieved. Salaams.