Monday, April 07, 2008

Measuring life's experience

I've been involved in hosting my family in Qatar, returning for the ACPA Convention in Atlanta, and then visiting back in Oxford over the last couple of weeks. It was very fun but I had a lot facing me as I tried to return to a little more routine. I have now realized that my return included slipping into a rather frantic routine that denied the deep joy of the experiences I had - and then I remembered the following quote that I heard while at the ACPA convention:

"Life is measured not by the number of breaths we take but by the times our breath is taken away."

When things get a bit overwhelming, how true a statement. As I reflect on the opportunity to introduce the rest of my family to my new life in the Gulf, it brings such joy to my heart. We had some pretty incredible times together as we toured both in Doha and then in Muscat, Oman. Both of these cities are modern and comfortable cities but they do have elements that remind us that we are in a different area of the world. The first pictures here are of us as we took an afternoon/evening cruise on a Dowh (ancient pearling boat used in this area of the world). The skyline of Doha is behind us in the family picture and one of the other Dowhs passing by us has a closer shot of the skyline of West Bay of Doha.

The second set of pictures are of the Great Mosque in Muscat and of the Corniche in the older area of the coast, a short way from the Mosque. We were not able to go into the Mosque because we arrived too late in the day but the exterior was no less spectacular and was well worth seeing.

The Coniche at dusk reveals the bustling charm of what has been a prosperous sea-side community for years. All the way back to the shipping days of the "Silk Road," and later during the Portuguese occupation of this port, Oman has been a crossroads of the Arabian Gulf and a gateway between Europe and the far east. It is truly a beautiful area of the world and the people are as engaging and friendly as one could hope.

Once our touring was over, I returned with Diane, Devin, and Steve to the U.S.A. (hard to leave Darbi behind as she was undergoing shoulder surgery) to go to Atlanta for the ACPA Convention. I saw many colleagues and friends who I hadn't seen for a while and I told the story of moving to Qatar more times than I can count. It seemed that every one of them was a new revelation as I found a different way to express my delight with the experiences I'm having. Once ACPA concluded, I returned to Ohio for a few days before returning to begin the catch-up process.

All of this is to say that I've been on a whirlwind but one that has reminded me how deeply blessed I am. There are so many things about my health, the fulfillment of my career, and the closeness of my family that bring gasps of joy. Occasionally I get so wrapped up that I forget; it's in those moments when I have to remind myself to take a minute to reflect. When I have those little momentary gasps of realization, I am reminded that I've been drawn into something that is so very powerful. Powerful in potential, powerful in the challenge of my work, and powerful in relationships I have.

It is times like this that life's experiences truly are not measured by the number of breaths I take but the number of times my breath is taken away.


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