Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Continuing to adjust and opportunities it brings

I finished Day #2 and I'm off for Day #3 of Education City today (Thursday), which is the last day of this week. On Day #2 I had the chance to participate in the signing ceremony to bring Northwestern University to Qatar in Fall of '08. The people involved from Northwestern are great, especially the person who will be responsible for coordinating the student affairs work within the branch. She was very eager to collaborate with the QF staff and was eager to get started, and, she's a friend of a colleague I've known for a long time who works with her.

I continue to adjust but I struggled a bit with sleep in my first days. The first two nights, I awoke at 4 a.m. tossing and turning and unable to return to sleep. I was so tired last night that I crashed and stayed asleep until 5:30 a.m. - hoorah! The sleep deprevation was an irritation during the first days and it made me more tired than I'd like to be. However, I found a bit of thankfulness even in lost sleep. Lost sleep represents a disruption, although small, of my regular lifestyle. I started thinking during Day #2 about my transitions in life and what they each brought me.

As I think about it, I've had three major transition points in my life where I was substantially alone - the first was moving to Maryland immediately after graduate school. The second was Luxembourg in the fall of 2005. The third is Qatar. Obviously, each of these presented major challenges for me in adjustment. However, they also opened up pretty amazing things for my future. So, I plan to get my head around welcoming the change rather than freaking out - or at least I'll try.

Learning to embrace the change is a fascinating issue and came to a positive turn the morning if Day #2 at 4 a.m. I awoke, tossed and turned, heard morning prayers broadcast on loud speakers at 4:30 a.m. (actually, a very awe-inspiring sound), and then got up. I ate breakfast, listened to my ipod, and then finished reading Jaworski's "Synchronicity." The end of the book is astounding and brought me to tears as I was sitting in my upstairs gallery. I'll spare you some of the details but Joe Jaworski's life experience has many parallels to mine - a bit strange how much! Leon Jaworski (yes, the Watergate prosecutor) was Joe's Dad and before Watergate days prosecuted Nazi war criminals after WWII. The prosecution of Nazi atrocities deeply wounded Leon and he wrote a book dedicated to his son that revealed his commitment to "transform institutions as well as the individual human heart to ensure that this kind of pain doesn't continue to occur in the world again and again." The story closes with a beautiful poem that follows:
"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a coal-mouse asked a wild dove.
"Nothing more than nothing," was the answer.
"In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal-mouse said.
"I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow -- not heavily, not a raging blizzrd -- no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflake settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing, as you say -- the branch broke off."
Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.
The dove, since Noah's time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for awhile, and finally said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come to the world.


The point is that we never know whose life we are touching and it might be that one last person's voice that will turn the tide to peace. It may seem outrageously grandiose to say that I'm contributing in this way but I have to live as if this is what I'm doing. I'm an incurable romantic and I have to see my work as transformative and I think the people of Qatar can transform the world if we can learn to respect each other and work together.

2 comments:

MJ said...

Denny,
Glad you're adjusting well. Happy to hear you finished Synchronicity. I, too, loved the story at the end of the book. Very moving. Easily my favorite piece I read in the graduate school.

As always, I am enjoying reading your blog. Things here are good. Just chipping away at the applications for grad school. I took the GRE on Saturday. I'm glad I never have to prepare for one of those tests ever again!

Take care,
Matt

Benjamin said...

Denny,

I am glad to see you seem to be adjusting well to Qatar. I must thank you again for the opportunities you have aided-and-encouraged me to utilize at Miami, and if that is any basis for what you will do there, those students are immensely lucky.

Today I received the first of what will hopefully be many acceptance letters from law schools -- I thank you again for providing me with a doubtlessly thoughtful letter of recommendation.

Best,

Benjamin