The other day I was reading a book about how to unblock your creative self. One of the tasks in the book was about collecting images of things or people or places you like or dream about and then making a collage of them.
I remembered that I had a folder full of such images that I had collected but it seems like such a long time ago. My images were of writers and the rooms they wrote in. I had collected them not because someone had told me to do so. No. But because I loved books and writing and writers and dreamt one day of writing my own book. And I had tried to gather whatever images of writers I could lay my hands on just for inspiration.
The ones I had collected while still in school and university, I don’t know what happened to, nor do I know where they are or could be. See, back then when I was still in high school in Lebanon, the civil war started and everything changed, including my choices. My priority stopped being about my dreams or what I loved to do. It became more of what was the best and easiest thing to do given the situation I was in. I studied what I thought at the time would guarantee me a job no matter what my circumstances were. I studied mathematics to earn a living. I never even looked at other options. I chose the easy way out, thus silencing my dream.
Years went by and I got married and we moved to Dubai to escape the dire situation in Lebanon. I kept on teaching.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
I kept pretending although I wasn’t happy. But Dubai was this beautiful cosmopolitan place, a city where the East and the West came together to create this unique blend of cultures, and I started to dream again. I started a new collage of images, again of writers, from the different newspapers that I collected, both in English and Arabic. I still have that folder. But what’s more important is that I wrote.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”