I came back to Saudi Arabia after my “work-ation” in California and my vacation at home and I felt rejuvenated to the Nth degree. On top of that I had less than six months left in my contract, adding to my sense of lightness. What I also had was a realization that I had made during a brief conversation with a sweet and dear friend at home, Sashie.
Sashie and I talked about my period of down’dom that I experienced in the late-winter/early spring and how I had a deep-seated fear of it happening again. Depression is scary when you’re in it. It feels like you are in a hole of darkness that you will never get out of no matter how hard you try. It keeps you from seeing things clearly, which makes shifting into a positive mind-frame essentially impossible even though you know that it is the best thing for you to do. During the conversation with Sashie she helped me to feel human about it all. She helped me recognize that, even with all that I know about meditation and the ways that the perspectives we take shape our mentality and happiness, it is still possible to get lost in a cavern of darkness. As I had said to Sashie, I had been thinking that I should know better and that I had done something wrong to let myself get so down. Sashie brought me back to reality and got me on a path of recognition where I was able to see how it all happened and forgive myself for going into that dark place.
My refreshed and rejuvenated brain that came from my West Coast “retreat” and my new sense of recognition on how my depression came about created the clarity I needed to be able to see things with regards to Saudi differently. I see now that, in many ways, I actually knew that I was digging a hole for myself to become depressed and it all boils down to resisting change.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, my philosophy in life is that the only constant in life is change. I have also mentioned that I LOVE change. You wouldn’t have thought that if you were in my head during my first year and a half here in Saudi. You see, if you are a lover of change then you have to be someone who lets things go; who allows things, situations, people, circumstances, ways-of-being to simply leave when the flow of life sends them away. These all need to go in order to create space in your life for new things, situations, people, circumstances, ways-of-being to come in and shape you into an evolved and greater version of you. It’s like shedding an old skin and in order to allow a new you to breathe and expand.
I didn’t realize it until recently, but I was scared to shed my skin and expand here in Saudi. When I left British Columbia I was so happy with the person I had become. I was in love with that person. She was the best version of me I had ever experienced. I felt that British Columbia had created that person and somehow, without realizing it until now, my subconscious mind felt that I could only be that best version of myself in BC. I’m not sure why I felt this exactly, but I have a feeling that I was afraid of becoming something I didn’t want to be if I allowed Saudi into my psyche and let it change me.
I most likely was afraid because I was initially surrounded by negativity in Saudi. Anyone I met during those first six’ish months, except for a select few people, were people who took the glass-half-empty perspective on life. I thought that it was living in Saudi that did that to them. Understandably so, Saudi Arabia is not an easy place to live. But I was wrong. Saudi didn’t cause these people to exist in negativity, their own perspectives on life did. And it is no surprise that, with me holding on tight to the person I was back in BC, I created a breeding ground of stagnation where my psyche couldn’t move, couldn’t change freely, and so couldn’t gain clarity and see the positivity that was hiding behind the negativity surrounding me. I soon found myself sucked into that zone of negativity that I so feared because my mind wasn’t open to the possibilities that living somewhere new, exotic, and strange could create for my personality.
|My footprints in the Saudi sand.|
The negativity came not just because I was holding onto my BC-self too tight; I was also holding on to BC and refusing to let go. I compared Saudi to BC over and over and over again. The problem is, when you’re in love with a place and so utterly attached to it you will never ever find another place that lives up to the standards you created. And, again, me being the change loving person that I thought I was; I ended up doing myself a grand disservice by remaining attached to BC in this way and not allowing Saudi to show me the possibilities for goodness that it holds within it’s beige walls.
I finally saw how resisting change within myself and by remaining too attached to the place I call home was creating my depressed state. So, after returning to Riyadh in August I began to peel off that skin that was the “BC me” and I decided to leave my thoughts of BC to float around as they please without hanging on to them as if my life depended on it. This created room for the person that my experiences in Saudi had been shaping all along to finally breathe deep and expand. And it allowed for me to shine a new and clear perspective onto Saudi Arabia so that I could see it for what it really is.
|"Edge of the World" in Saudi Arabia|
And what is the Saudi Arabia that I see now? It is a place that has given me access to travelling opportunities I had never imagined I would get; London, Paris, Lebanon, Switzerland, California, Jeddah, Ha’il, Sri Lanka. It is a place that has deserts of raw beauty that take your breath away and only a select few people in the world get to see. It is a place that has given me the gift of financial freedom and has changed my relationship with money for the better. It is a place that contains amazingly lovely people from all over the world that I am lucky enough to call friends. It is a place that has opened my mind to cultures and world perspectives that I didn’t even know existed. It is a place that has helped me gain greater understanding of global issues. It is a place that has given me opportunities to expand my abilities in climbing. It is a place that has given me the experience of five star living (which has allowed me to appreciate camping so much more). It is a place that has camels who are happy to wrap their long necks around me in an affectionate embrace. Saudi Arabia is a place that holds grand possibilities for experiences that allow me to grow into a better person. Saudi Arabia is a place that does in fact have love and light within it’s walls, you just have to actually open your eyes up and clear your brain of any blocks in order to see it. Now that I have done that I am being inundated with wonderful happenings and even more positive and loving people to call friends. I have been blessed with the opportunity to live in Saudi Arabia and it is time that I see it for the positive place that it is.
Keep reading for an important update on my Saudi Arabian experience in Part Two: The Extension.