Thoughts on a Plane

I am writing this as I am on a flight from Reykjavik to San Francisco. It had been exactly nine months and 16 days since I left San Francisco, and I am not exactly sure how I’ll feel being back. I’ll be there for nearly two and a half weeks, which will be an interesting reality check.
My blog posts as of late have been sparse and shallow. Whenever I start writing I get caught up in writing the easy stuff (travels, workout schedules, etc.) and don’t end up writing about the more important reflections and experiences that I’ve been going through.
I want to dedicate some time here to write about why I left my life in San Francisco nearly 10 months ago. I must admit, I am not even sure, despite all these months, exactly why I left San Francisco. What I am sure of though, is that even though I worked with world-class engineers in reputable companies, had great income, and relatively had freedom to travel around, I felt deeply dissatisfied.
Reflecting back, this deep sense of dissatisfaction that I had stemmed from a feeling of insignificance. I felt that my contributions at work were insignificant and that the projects I was working on were insignificant. Months would go by without me feeling like I have done or learned anything worthwhile. Add to that a sense of cultural disconnect, a weak circle of friends, no family, and no relationship. Life was completely meaningless to me.
I was deeply depressed.
I am not blaming anyone for that status quo. It was entirely a product of my own decisions. I vividly remember the first time I came to San Francisco back in 2011. I wanted to work with the best, to be one of the best. I had these dreams of using these super powers I was learning to make the world, especially the Arab World, a better place. Not only was it a huge driving force for me, but I almost felt it was a personal liability to do so.
It breaks my heart to see what the Arab World has descended into, and I feel powerless about it.
Many times I wonder, why should I even care? I have zero obligations towards the Arab World, and it’s not like they’ve given me much that I should feel obliged to “give back” anyways. Isn’t it more appropriate to not have deeply rooted affinities towards one particular place? Why not see the world as one, humanity as one, pursue the best opportunities you can find, with the best people you can find, and in the places where this work is most likely to succeed? I cannot find any logical arguments against this view.
I think this “responsibility” that I feel towards the Arab World stems from my sense of identity. I identify myself as an Arab, that my main language is Arabic (even though I’m writing this in English), and I enjoy being immersed in and adopting many parts of the heritage and history our people had. My rational mind is now telling me that none of this truly matters. This whole notion of “Arab”, “Arabism”, and “Arabic” is completely man-made, and to an outsider it is completely irrelevant, just like most flavors of nationalism I suppose. But, again, it seems like it's important to me.
I have no idea what to make of this just yet. I am better off taking a nap, I think. I am exhausted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *