This week for many around the world is a time of recollection and quiet introspection.
It is a time when, at least from Good Friday to Easter Sunday once slows down the pace of work and search within for what is more meaningful than the materiality that otherwise surrounds us in our daily lives.
I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. And this will be the focus of my thoughts this weekend.
I also have a lot of ‘work in progress’ (such is life after all)… bridges that need crossing and intersections that may cause me to change course.
An old Greek word that is synonymous with this time of year is ‘Metanoia’. Although religious, psychological, psychoanalytical and other sources all sought to give their meaning or nuance to the word … probably the closest paraphrase of this Metanoia is ‘U-turn’. Also, the etymology of the word denotes depth of meaning. It is derived from two words ‘meta’ (beyond) and ‘noeo’ (perception). In meaning it is closely related to the word ’Jihad’ in Islamic faith i.e. “striving in the way of God” (al-jihad fi sabil Allah) or a believer’s internal struggle to live one’s faith.” Jihad and Metanoia are a process and not an end result; they are a continuous journey and not the destination.
What has been my journey recently? What do I have to be thankful for? Where am I now? Where am I heading?
Crossing the Bridge
2011 has been a roller-coaster year for me and my family.
With two job moves in one year, including a period of redundancy, 2011 was not exactly a bed of roses. Or maybe it was! Because despite the thorns it presented, I was constantly blessed with the support of my near and dear ones…. More soothing than roses in full bloom.
Redundancy offered me some time off; Some morning walks on the Doha promenade with my wife, more time with my daughter, a visit to my son who is studying in the UK and time to finish my thesis and attend my MSc graduation ceremony in the UK.
On the work front, it allowed me to regroup for a 2012 re-entry into the coal-face of the insurance industry, interacting directly with clients, re-applying what I have learnt over the years and learning new things as well. My previous C-suite positions had alienated me from all this. My new job rekindled the passion for the profession.
I am a firm believer that when one door closes another opens and with a family that constantly provides the wind beneath my wings (to borrow a phrase from my old friend Wayne) the only way is “onwards and upwards”. Dido’s ‘White Flag’ resurfaced as the battle cry over the past 12 months.
As a family, we are not completely out of the woods yet in that we’re living out of suitcases in Doha and Dubai for the time being. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn’t seem to be an advancing train.
Life’s a journey and it is, after all, what we make of it. My personal learning points from this are:
• The old adage: When life gives you lemons, you can turn them into lemonade;
• Walk away from negativity;
• Seek out the best in people but do not flog a dead horse;
• Never under-estimate the inner strength of near and dear ones .. but do not take them for granted;
• In John Bradford’s words, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Life is, indeed, a journey. It is not a state of being. It is a constant state of becoming. Therefore it is a journey of learning and self-discovery; of learning from past mistakes and of continually improving oneself.
By implication it is a journey of self-betterment. It is a perpetual Metanoia. And on this note I wish to end this piece by relating Metanoia, i.e. one’s internal journey and struggles for self-betterment to derivative word, Metania.
Metania (not dissimilar to the Chinese kowtow) is a form of reverence … a posture in worship. One of Georges Florovsky (Christian Orthodox theologian) well remembered phrases is certainly, “Worship comes first, doctrine and discipline second.”
Worship is personal. It signifies and cements a relationship with a Supreme Being. Outward manifestations are no more than that.
What matters is the personal relationship with the Source that strengthens and nourishes us in our individual journey of Metanoa. Do not settle for less.