Here we are. It’s been a year and, from looking at this blog, I think we’ve made some progress but there is always somewhere to go. I haven’t followed the rules of posting every day or every week with however many character long posts. But that’s okay. I don’t like to follow the rules anyways.
“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.”- Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art
“So, why do I blog?” I asked myself this question while halfway into a bottle of red wine. “Well, why do I do anything?” This was the question that led to a better answer because it helped me realize and put into words what it is that I have been seeking. “I want to love, be loved and never stop learning.” I thought. Continuous growth, love and education are my life goals. I’ve often said that if I could afford to be a permanent student in a college somewhere then I would probably do so, but that it wouldn’t fulfill the other types of growth I needed. Like my severe wanderlust. I know myself well enough that once the hardcore learning has stopped, I get bored and look for other things.
I believe it was Herbert Spencer who said “the great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” So not only do I want to learn, because I can sit behind this computer all day and do that, but I also want to live. Sometimes there is no better teacher out there than experience. Actually doing the thing. Putting yourself out there and taking the risks can train you and teach you a whole helluva lot faster than hours and hours of workshops or theory. This is why I have been stuck on the travel bug for such a long time. Traveling is learning and living intensive. Each and every experience or place is new, exciting and different. Sometimes, the people that you meet put your communication skills to the test. Try asking for a bathroom without being able to speak a common language or without being able to google the words. You end up resorting to hand signs and hopping up and down. Trust me. I’ve been there.
This is Shakshuka
I was actually drafting another post called “Shakshuka and Friendship” but it ran along the same vein as this topic so, fuck it, let’s go all in.
I work with a man named Ahmed. Ahmed is an Egyptian immigrant who brought his family to America a few years ago in the hopes of being able to provide them with a better life. He and I have worked side by side in a factory for going on 3 years. With me being his senior, it was my responsibility to train him how to do the various tasks we are required to perform. During the time that I spent training him to work, he told me that he noticed how “I was able to describe a job in different ways so he can understand everything” and he asked for my help with language. Since then, I’ve been tutoring him in English. Now, I’m not going to his home and cracking open textbooks or anything of that nature but I feel like I could. Mostly he comes to me requesting certain phrases or definitions and examples of words and their uses. He tells me that even though he could look those things up that he appreciates more my ability to explain these things. To receive the knowledge from another person.
Why would I bring this up? Because this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Having something that I’ve taken for granted (a native language and all the reading I have done) and being able to share that information with someone who is truly gracious in receiving it. This is pinnacle of loving, being loved and learning. Over this period of time, I have shared my insights about life and philosophy from my perspective and Ahmed has shared his but I have also had the opportunity to ask him questions about Egypt, his culture and what it was like being in a place that he felt such a need to leave.
One day, while I was reading (I think it was a Colin Wright book), I came across the word “Shakshuka” and continued to read that it was a dish from the middle eastern regions. Being the type of person that I am, I googled it. Essentially it’s eggs broiled in a tomato sauce with chili peppers and spices. From everything that I saw and read, it sounded delicious but I needed first-hand confirmation. Immediately, I went to Ahmed and inquired about shakshuka. The look on his face was priceless. He turned from his machine and said “Paul, what do you know about shakshuka? Many people in my own country do not know about this dish” I said, “Well, I don’t know much yet but I read a bit really quickly and I want to know if it’s as great as it sounds.” Ahmed laughed and responded with “Yes. It is incredible but you cannot just take me for my word. I will bring you some to try.” He did exactly as he said he would and let me just say that it was awesome. Not just the food but everything leading up to this moment has been awesome. Learning. Showing and receiving love. Sharing experiences and cultures. Embracing our differences as humans and not scorning or killing each other for them.
Sometimes you don’t have to travel the world to experience and learn about different cultures. You simply have to look around. More importantly, you sometimes have to be okay with being a little uncomfortable or willing to share knowledge and experience with someone else.
More shakshuka please….mmm….
So why do I blog? Why do I do anything? Well, I hope that it’s obvious at this point.
I do it for free shakshuka.