I've been back in the U.S.A. for the last two weeks, enjoying a wonderful holiday with my family. The entire two weeks was dedicated to the five of us (wife, two daughters, son-in-law, and Gram) doting on each other. I actually can't remember a holiday when we've dedicated so much time to each other. In retrospect, the fact that Darbi and I are in Qatar probably pushes the issue and reinforces the importance of family during the holidays.
We did many fun things, including lots of shopping and gift giving, cultural experiences (Phantom of the Opera in Chicago - picture below left), and meals either in or out that were to die for. In fact, the impact on how my clothes now fit is a perfect measure of how "to die for" all the food really was. It was a wonderful time together that made the departure for Qatar on the 2nd strangely more difficult than the last. It was renewing our commitments to each other that made it more difficult to part again. We have all committed to this venture so there is no hesitation or misgiving about it. However, that does not make being apart any easier.
Darbi and my reason for being in Qatar makes all the difference. I was seated on the plane tonight by a man who works for GE and is working on a powerplant outside Doha. I'm not exactly sure what was going on in his life but his attitude about flying to Qatar was far less than ideal. He's only here for two months, yet he complained about the challenges he has faced in his work and about his separation from family. I didn't really talk with him that much because his attitude was so wrong from my perspective. I simply can't understand taking an assignment in a place where you can't see that your time and effort count for something. People like this guy should leave immediately and shouldn't even make motions toward contributing through their work. This guy has no idea why he was placed in Qatar and the lack of knowing undermines his ability to deal with the inconvenience, separation, and challenge of an ex-pat work assignment.
I return to Qatar saddened by not being with my family yet I know that we've all taken the challenge of this in our lives. We have all sacrificed, perhaps Diane, Devin, and Steve have sacrificed the most by staying in the U.S.A. Because we know that there is work worth doing and that Darbi and I have a chance to make a real contribution in the Arabian Gulf, we are able to hang on. This is what strong family and strong friends are all about - supporting each other when things take us down unexpected paths. And, rejoicing in the time that we have together.
Those who read this blog know how difficult life's choices can be. We have a New Year upon us and we are challenged to use our time in ways that contribute to the betterment of the world and those individuals around us for whom we care. The distance my be close or far. In our case, the great distance will strengthen us as family and colleagues because we know that the inconvenience of distance has purpose. And, if the last 24-hours has been any indication, it really is true that love spans amazing distances and transcends time.