September 25, 2021

Maitri Spoke to Me when my Country was Covered with Shattered Glass.


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I remember waking up on August 4, 2020, starting a hot pot of water, and feeling the urge to jump on social media.

The first thing I see is someone pointing their video toward smoke rising from a building near the port in the capital of Beirut.

A few seconds go by, then…boom!

I was confused and shocked.

I instantly messaged my dad, and he responded saying, “I am hurt. I will write you later.”

The moment I received the response from my dad, I wrote my mom and called my stepmom. My stepmom was in Los Angeles, but I knew she had spoken to him already.

She informed me that he was heading to the hospital and that he was alright. My mom was safe as she lived about 45 minutes north from the capital, and she was off to check on her mom who also lived in an area in Beirut, called Achrafieh.

My grandma was fine, even though she was dealing with the physical damage of windows shattered—glass everywhere.

My dad lived in the city. He was sitting at home and watching television when it happened. He told me later that the blow was so shocking, he can’t even remember the moment it happened.

During the civil war, he didn’t feel an impact of such magnitude. But with this explosion, he suffered trauma to the head, broke and lost some teeth, and had a hefty cut on his inner lip. Even with the massive bruise on his leg and a swollen face, he got himself to the hospital.

When I was young, bread, butter, and jam was breakfast or a snack, and of course, at some point in my life, it became an evening meal.

I smear salted butter onto warm, artisan sourdough bread, topping it off with fresh strawberry jam. Man! I’ve been missing my parents lately. On top of the wild year of staying at home and experiencing the world on pause, both of my parents were living in Lebanon, a small country off the Mediterranean coastline.

Lebanon’s people got hit with not only the economic collapse and political corruption they’d been protesting against for months, but a 2,750 ton of explosive ammonium nitrate that catapulted havoc in their already fragile lands.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a civil war.

My mom and her family had the opportunity to get a visa and flee the war-infested country, across the Atlantic and North Americas, down to a mirrored Mediterranean in sunny Southern California.

My grandfather, mom’s dad, had already set up a job there with his brother, working at a pharmacy. My dad made his journey back to his home country eventually.

On that day, August, 4, 2020, the city was blanketed in glass like confetti.

One moment, a man is walking down the street and heading to the shop to buy some cigarettes, maybe seeing a friend or two on the way, kids are playing soccer with their neighbors, grandmothers are cooking, and lovers are kissing, then someone catches their eye as they point to the smoke in the air and press “record.”

All this ended with souls instantaneously ceasing from experiencing the human journey—this journey we sometimes take for granted, caught in the spells of money, time, and pressure to snap!

This is what we call the end—the end of a story at the least.

This brings me back to the feeling I get while pulling out my bread knife and passionately cutting the bread because I am hungry for food, but not only for the sustenance of the meal itself.

This hunger has turned to the pain of missing my youth, my mom, my dad, and my brother.

In this moment, my soul was more ravenous than my body needed to eat.

Yes, writing is simmering my energy this morning as I find myself leaning on the edge of anxiety and irritation.

But the memories of this “comfort food” draws me to feel a sense of home and calmness. As an adult in my early 30s, I now have a reference for patience, prayer, and presence. This reference helps me take the sometimes vicious and ungrounded part of me—the one that is caught in the mind and is adamant on getting what it wants instantly—and bring her down.

Down and into the earth.

Into the body.

Into the body that feels a longing to be with family, to feel their warmth and the way they trigger me sometimes.

When the silence between each heartbeat is emphasized, we are reminded of impermanence. It’s a lifetime guarantee.

This is the truth of the human journey.

We are born, then we die.

But there’s so much in-between.

Not only do we experience a physical birth and death, but we also experience plenty of small births and deaths within our life.

The foundation of the experiences that mold us in life is in constant flux and refinement. There is not only an evolution but an unraveling occurring as well.

Maitri is a Buddhist word that means something to the likes of making friends with ourselves—being honest with ourselves and others.

As an adult, witnessing the catastrophe of chaos descending on my family, a community of human beings, and the lands of my ancestors instantly ignited the fires of deeper introspection on my Maitri.

Lady Death knocks on each of our souls’ doors. She is fair and true to herself. Even though I can’t see my family right now, I can write them, speak to them, send them photos.

The simple things.

In tragedy sprouts depth.

The dark corridor sometimes leads to emotions or feelings that were once dormant; maybe they have never been felt before but always there waiting to be sensed and given space to breathe.

Lady Death visits my door with Lady Grace. They remind me of the heart-wrenching, tender truth of the fleeting life.

And I welcome them in.

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