To Gabriela

[In Peru] in the worst times of terrorism (1980-1992), there was a journalist who had a weekly column where he wrote about flowers, bees, sunshines and smiles. One day, a reader sent him a very long letter asking him if it was worth it to write about flowers, bees, sunshines and smiles when our “brothers” were killing each other on a daily basis. The answer was very simple and short: Yes.

I’m not basking in detached silence. I have stopped blogging only because I can’t add or detract any value in terms of commentary on the recent turmoil in my homeland. In the meantime I've been reading vigorously what my younger fellow countrymen and countrywomen are writing. I have to acknowledge my admiration to their relentless spirit and their unbending belief in a better tomorrow. I have to also thank some of them for piloting me back to reading in Arabic, something, in my opinion, I neglected far too long for lack of quality. But quality and class they have, and brains and the tenacity to forge their way forward and not float in stagnant water with a false sense of security and perpetual bovine bliss. Politics is not my field. As a matter of fact, and after raising my hat to the new breed of gutsy Syrian bloggers, I should also bring to the attention of the venerable armchair political writers and totalitarian apologists that their silence at this moment in time would be their greatest gift to humanity.

On a distant February day this year I bought a DSLR camera, envisioning all the wonderful places I’m going to visit once I’m back in Syria. I rightly thought that with spring at the door I'll have a chance to learn and hone my photographic skills. I imagined the infusion of pictures and words on my blog and contemplated on how, since I’ve resigned from my job earlier, time would be my own again. I'd dedicate more of myself to this blog, I reckoned, and I'd start my endeavor by documenting how inspiring spring in Syria is. Alas, taking my camera on a Friday and driving a car through towns and villages or riding a motorcycle across the countryside in search of that magical shot couldn't be described as the safest hobby at the moment. I regret the missed personal opportunities but I don’t feel any remorse in the grand scheme of things. If it were not for the waves of the sea and for the flow of the river, water would become brackish. The Syrian Spring has turned out unimaginably more exalting than I could've dreamed.

There’s always a calm before the storm. What we tend to overlook is that there’s always a calm after the storm too. When the winds are howling and in the immediate aftermath of a tornado we might despair from the horrid devastation around us. Yet we have seen humanity triumph over and over again and we shall too. “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another”*. 

*Anatole France


Gabriela said…
What can I say, my dear Abufares? For a simple THANKS is not enough, even though the sentiment that word expresses is exactly what I felt after reading this post of yours.
Saint Augustine has some wise words: the worst darkness is the one that comes just before dawn.
I wish those winds of change may blow steady and as fast, or slow, as they should. I wish the best for your country. I wish the best for my country. I wish the best for each and every country in the world.
Isobel said…
What an amazing post, Abufares! Of course, I wouldn't expect anything else. I love the message, and the photos. Beautiful!

Like Gabriela, I wish the best for Syria and all the world. Take good care.
BIL said…
Abufares, I read with a pleasure your return with “pen in hand”. I, as all of us have a common hope that the human race will strive for a better place to live and yes, the calm often is after as well as before the storm. Let’s all pray for the next calm in our world – we can all use some of that right now! As you have seen the terrific devastation from the recent series of tornados that have struck my country in the recent weeks which have left entire towns leveled and simply wiped off the map has had a way of bringing out the best in mankind coming together, sometimes from hundreds of miles away to help gather up the pieces and rebuild entire towns house by house one at a time. That is the hope I wish for you and your people when the next calm comes, and when it does, it will be better than before. Take care BIL
Abu Fares,

Thank you for this soothing post; it is a welcome respite from the storm. I guess it is the pilot in you that allows you to give us the 10,0000m view; or is it the wisdom of your age :). If is easy to get caught up in the daily details of the events and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Anonymous said…
I would like just to give you a hug and tell you everything will turn out better soon enough. But, as the status of craziness in the world stands, I am sending you a big HUG and hoping all will be settled in Syria for the good of its people and country sooner than later.

I am feeling kind of low today. So I better quit and try later on for a better response to your well written post.

w.b. yeats
Abufares said…
You know that it's the other way around. I have to thank you for (gently) poking me to write again. This post was inspired by your words.
What a pleasure!
Abufares said…
I have to admit that your blog was my inspiration in mixing photography with prose. You do it so damn well and matching your talent and skill (in both) is an almost impossible goal... but I'll keep trying and may be I can come close.
Thank you for always standing by my side :-)
Abufares said…
The horrendous storms and tornadoes that hit the US in the last month or so and the reaction of the brave individuals and families who suffered direct hits were also an inspiration to me in writing this post. There is no word to describe their will and tenacity but "heroic".
Thank you for your thoughtful comments.
Abufares said…
@Abu Kareem
I'm very happy to see you here. Looking at the big picture and not focusing on individual details is not the ideal mindset when talking and/or writing about politics and that's why I'm not good at it. However, an idealist with a wide-eye lens (from high above) can sometimes discern patterns which pragmatists and politicians, and despite their long involvement in the Power Game, often miss or avoid, whether intentionally or not.
Abufares said…
@w.b. yeats
I hope that by the time you read this you're already feeling better and that you received that much needed hug ;-)
I, too, wish the best to all people: Peace, Happiness and Freedom. If I were any prettier I would've ran for Miss Universe and added "Fighting Cancer" to my To-Do List :-)
Karim said…
Welcome back Abufares... it was starting to feel awfully lonely out there without your blogs.
Abufares said…
Thank you so much. I was starting to feel lonely too being away from blogging then reading and responding to comments.
I hope we all have just happy things to contemplate and write about. Wishful thinking, I know, but I'm a dreamer.
Anonymous said…
I think you would be a hit in the evening gown section of the Miss Universe Pageant! LOL

En fin, como decimos por acá, everything is moving towards mayor changes all over the world. We just have to hope it will be for the best.

World peace, happiness and freedom, a cure for cancer and HIV, no more sexual molesters and pedophiles and enough food and water (maybe VINO is better) for all!

Cuídate mucho,
Abufares said…

Not to mention the swimming suit competition. I have something none of the other participants have. Hairy legs :-)
Yup... food and wine and enough clean water for daily showers. That's the good life everyone deserves.
Anonymous said…
What a wonderful, wonderful post dear friend!!I was hoping you'd return .. no, I just KNEW it - and I am happy I was right! Every time I open the computer and read what's going on in your beloved country, my heart cries ... the people deserve so much better; "food and wine and enough clean water for daily showers" is a good start but of course the list has to go on! I wish all of you that those dark threatening clouds will clear soon and make place for blue sky with those white little cotton balls, that a gently breeze will come and people can, once again, enjoy ... that fear and despair will make place to love and comfort. Just like Gabriela says, I wish Syria and the Syrian people the best ... only the very very best!
Karin said…
... I apologize - the comment flew away without me realizing I hadn't clicked on the "Name/URL"!
Sean said…
So glad you're safe and well. Hang in there...
Abufares said…
Well I knew it was you even without the name. We have a saying in Arabic in the meaning of: The moon can't be hidden.
And that's what your comments are, always rays of hope in a night of darkness.
So glad to see you here and hey... soon :-)
Abufares said…
Thank you buddy. We're all safe and sound, hoping for better times.
Karin said…
Yup - sooooon :-))) !!
Sonja said…
I can only hope that indeed things go smoothly for Syria ... we are sailing around the Med in 2014 and I really would love to drop anchor near her shores and perhaps share a glass with you Abufares.
Abufares said…
A glass and more hopefully :-)
Nice to see you here Early Bird!
Anonymous said…
Welcome back Abu Fares. I read your post and was left speechless.
I really feel so bad for what's going on in Syria, I hope all goes well very very soon.

Abu Abdo
Abufares said…
@Abu Abdo
I miss our talks my friend and hopefully all's well that ends well.
Take care of you and yours and please stay in touch.
Anonymous said…
What kind of herb that is in the second photo Abu Fares? I know I've drank it with tea..
Abufares said…
We call it Etra in Tartous عطره
There are other kinds of Etra with a much more powerful sweet smell and I'm not sure if they are related. This one, however, we use sparingly in cooking, specially with meat to remove the "Zankha" from the food and in other dishes to give them a pleasant and robus smell. It might be used with tea too but I really can't tell.
Thank you for your visit.
Mariyah said…
If everyone could and would read your writing, Abufares, it would bring peace to the entire world. Your beautiful words should never be silenced, even when making a statement. Thank you for coming back to us.
Abufares said…
Long time no see Mariyah but so glad you made it.
I have to thank you for making one of your rare appearances on my blog ;-)
Mi casa es su casa, but you already know that.
KJ said…
Though I am the last person to ever discuss politics - or understand the subject matter to begin with - it simply kills me that I am unable to voice my opinions and concerns out of fear. Many of my friends have braved these waters, though, and most of them regret it but cannot take their words back.

All I can say at the moment is that I long for the sound of the pine trees swaying in the wind on a brightly moonlit night, with a crisp cool air as I lie with my friends and cousins on the rooftops nibbling on bezer and gossiping about who married who in the neighbouring villages.
Abufares said…
You know how reluctant I am to write politics, not out of "fear" only but out of disgust as well.
However, I believe that I have a minimal moral obligation more toward myself than toward the readers of this blog to state, in my own way, where I really stand.
I'm not at all for chaos but I'm not for murder in the name of security either.
We will all benefit from a democratic Syria where and when none is above the law and everyone is guaranteed to live their lives, politically, socially and economically as they choose under an umbrella of equality and justice.
Beverly said…
This is a great article, and a great topic to explore. Thanks for sharing.

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