fear

The colliding stories of Egypt and Argentina

As horrible as this may sound, today (and sometimes other days) I blame my father.

I blame my father for what often seems to me an illogical attachment to country and people.

I blame my father for instilling in me (I’m certain it was deliberate) a very strong sense of national identity, long before I ever even visited the country.

I’ve been reading a book about Argentina’s desaparecidos – the thousands who disappeared during the country’s military rule from 1976 to 1983. It’s a heart-wrenching narrative of real events through fictional characters. And it pains me to my very core that I can relate in some ways to the events and the characters in this book.

I don’t know if I’ll ever come to terms with what has happened in Egypt in the past few years. I’m one of the extremely fortunate who have managed to come out of it unscathed, if not for an expected amount of post-traumatic stress disorder. My family is all safe for now. The vast majority of my friends are also safe, although I have a few who are very dear to me who are in jail; one with a death sentence on his head.

So many of my friends have left the country, a few literally fleeing it. I left for many reasons, mainly because of my personal family circumstances. But underneath those obvious reasons I know that part of me just can’t deal with what Egypt has become. And another small part of me fears it.

It pains me to have the luxury of sitting comfortably in a nice little house in northern England, drinking my tea and blogging about my all-so-important feelings, while there are so many people back home in Egypt who want to leave but can’t – either because they don’t have the means or because they are literally incarcerated. But because I’m the center of my own world, what probably pains me even more is that I am this fortunate yet I still have an illogical longing and pain for a country and a people now so far away.  (more…)

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Cycling Europe Day 7: Living In the Moment

I don’t have any major problems in my life. My family and I are healthy, we have food in our bellies and roofs over our heads. We’ve never faced any major disasters. A previous divorce, unemployment, difficult decisions, worries about the future, yes. But beyond these relatively simple issues we’re fine.

So I fully realize how ridiculous it is to be on the trip of a lifetime and to break down crying with worries. But I did. My bike has some issues and I can’t fix them. It’s Easter holidays so there are no bike shops open for me to get help. I’m 80% certain I can still successfully ride on the bike without major issues until a suitable time comes for me to find a bike shop. But what if? What if the bike breaks down in the middle of nowhere and I can’t get it moving again? Is it safe for me to wave down any ol’ car and hitch a ride? It’s not like I haven’t considered all this before the trip but now it all feels so real and a tad overwhelming.

I had my cry and remembered what I was thinking while cycling yesterday. When I started out, I thought that now that I had so much time on my hands why not consider my big worries in life? Maybe this trip would help me solve them. So I asked myself, “What are you going to do about your non-existent job situation?” “What can you do?” was my answer. I need to just keep doing what I have been doing: apply for jobs and keep on the lookout for opportunities. That was easy! Next!

“OK”, I thought. “Well, what about your living situation? Where should I live next year?” I won’t go into details but it is quite complicated. “There is not much you can do about this one for now,” I answered. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”

My life’s problems for the time being took little more than two minutes of thinking and I was done, focusing on the road ahead of me.

“This must be what they call living in the moment,” I realized. (more…)

Ready for a New Adventure: I Ask Myself “Why?”

Every single time I set off on an adventure, I can’t help but ask myself for the millionth time, “Why?” What seemed so logical and simple when the idea initially originated now seems so odd and out-of-the-ordinary.

“Why do I keep doing this sort of thing to myself?” I ask. “What do I get out of it? Why am I doing it?”

It is always at this stage, a few days before the actual trip, that fear, trepidation, and anxiety find their way to settle into my heart and mind. These are not new emotions for me. I feel these when I embark on any sort of change. ANY sort of change. I manage to get myself, like most others, into a daily routine that I am comfortable with. Anything that changes that routine, engaging in a new activity, writing a new article, meeting up with people for coffee, going on an errand I’m unaccustomed to, all these things cause me anxiety and minor trepidations. I have come to learn that if I succumb to these emotions every time I feel them I would do nothing with my life beyond my simple, daily routine.

Yet I am also aware that the anxious emotions I feel before an adventure are well-founded: there are risks involved, I am embarking on a lot of unknowns, and I am leaving my family behind. I have found a way to work with my pre-adventure anxieties. They guide my thoughts to the possible risks involved in my upcoming journey and I make sure to put in an extra effort to organize the trip in a way that makes it as safe as is possible.

None of that removes the nagging question, “Why?”

In no particular order, here are my answers: (more…)

A New Adventure and New Fear: To Mont Blanc I Go

June 27: Why, oh why, oh why?

It’s that time of the year again. I’m preparing for another adventure; this time to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe.

“Why?” you ask. Since you are asking me only a few days before I set off, I really have no satisfying answer for you. I’ve been asking myself that same question. Why, Nadia? Why, oh why, oh why?

Mont Blanc is a mountain that involves ropes and ice axes, crevasses that people fall into and falling rocks that cause people to slip and fall.

Why, Nadia? Why, oh why, oh why?

(more…)