Tuesday, 4 December 2018

This too, shall pass.

I always loved that fable. One version claims it originated in Persia, and tells a story of a king who had asked wise men for a ring to make him happy whenever he was feeling sad. The ring they produced for him had simple words: This too, will pass. It however, became a curse too, whenever he was happy. Because it reminded him that all the good times end, too. I also heard before the ring belonged to King Solomon. Whoever it belonged to, it summarises life pretty perfectly, I think.

A good friend will probably have to leave Qatar soon. One of those heartbreaking expat moments.

'Well…that’s just the nature of the expat life, and your particular local circumstances?..' a friend back home pointed out. "You guys knew what it was going to be like when you signed up for it".

That helps. We are well aware of that, thank you. Like you are probably aware that you and everyone you ever loved will die. Doesn’t make it easier does it. Still hurts when it happens, however hard you try to mentally prepare for it.

We have a saying back home…time heals everything. I remember my mother saying that to me every time i was in love and things didn't work out. I thought i was going to kill her for repeating that useless phrase to me over and over again. 'You will recover from this', she would say. Of course the last thing i wanted at the time was to recover from loving someone. 

But is true, nevertheless. We humans, tend to move on. We have to, otherwise we wouldn’t survive as species, would simply die out from a heartbreak epidemic. Everything that once made you stressed or very upset will eventually lose the intensity, the sharpness of the pain will become duller and duller until, hopefully,  if not disappear entirely then at least will lie low and quietly somewhere at the very back of your memory bank. And that is good, of course.

But, just like the philosophical sentiment in Solomon’s ring implies…it is also terribly sad, isn’t it.

Because, it isn’t just the sad moments in life that we have to move on from. Everything good that happens to us also ends. And however hard you cling to the good memories, they will fade too. And you have to move on.

I know that even though right now it feels terrible to imagine that in a few months’ time I might  not have this friend in Doha, won’t be able to pop over for a chat, share a laugh and a glass of  wine,  I will eventually get used to just checking her status updates on Facebook. It happened so many times before, so I know the drill. So yes, of course I know I will be fine. And she will be fine. Everyone will be fine. But that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. It doesn’t mean I am happy to move on. Acceptance isn’t a choice. Acceptance isn’t happiness. I might accept that this friend will join a chain of virtual friends  on Facebook. And I am aware of the nature of expat life. I accept it. But I still hate it.

So what is the solution? you say. Well, there isn’t one. I saw a funny Russian postcard which must be based on Solomon’s ring, only it says "Fuck it! We shall survive this, too"  Perhaps, I should get that engraved on a ring and wear it all the time.

Another option is to be stupid. Stupidity, as I am beginning to realise, is a very easy way to be happy. Stupidity makes you hope for things you otherwise would know are impossible. It makes you naive and enthusiastic. It keeps you hopeful and contented. So yes, either be stupid , or get the ring. Or drink a lot more wine.

So I am going to try all of the above. I am going to tell myself this friend might not leave. It isn’t for sure yet, right? I am also going to tell myself even if she leaves, we might meet again- maybe by chance, who knows right? Maybe on holiday in Spain or something. I am also going to buy a ring and stick the Russian version on it. And I definitely need more wine.

This too, shall pass.