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Life is all about wandering — Lebanon the year 20845 min de lecture

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

Itwas a warm Sunday afternoon when Salima got a phonecall from her niece. Her words weren’t very intelligible: she was sobbing. Salima knew she had to leave work: something was definitely wrong.

So she took her watercar — a car that runs on water, a creation that was kept a secret by the oil companies for a very long time — and drove to her niece’s place near the town of Saida.

She took a deep breath before ringing the doorbell, knowing this would be a difficult discussion.

Mariam opened the door, her eyes red and filled with water, a handkerchief in her hand.

She didn’t even bother to say “come in” and just left the door opened before getting back to her couch.

“What is it?”, asked Salima.

Mariam tried to calm herself down to tell the story, in vain. Instead, she gave her aunt a piece of paper. The words “We regret to inform you” were visible at the top.

It was a letter from the astrophysics company, saying she failed the competition.

But she was close… Was it any consolation ?

Aunt Salima took a deep breath and said :

“Let me tell you a story, Mariam. It’s nothing special, just a little lesson about life, something I learned the hard way too.”

Mariam turned towards her aunt with some interest. This distraction was calming her down a little bit. So she sat back, looked at her aunt, and waited.

“I used to hate people who have their lives perfectly lined up.

And at first, I thought it was because I was jealous: my life had taken a turn I didn’t expect, and it was a bit frustrating.

But then my point of view changed — or maybe I realized I was wrong all along: I wasn’t jealous, I thought it was boring.

“Life is all about wandering: you never really know where you’re going. You might think you know where you want to go, but actually, what you have in mind is (almost) never what is going to happen — or even what you actually want.

“I began my journey as an adult, launched into the world, not completely alone, but by myself. I thought I had it all figured it out: I’ll do two years of biology university, then try the eco-biologist competition and get into the finest school. Afterwards, I’ll get a job. Things seem so easy when you’re 18 and ignorant of what the “real world” is. And it felt so easy at the time to have my life all lined up…”

Mariam had stopped crying. She was listening with interest to her aunt’s story. She always thought she was one of these people who planned out everything and never got things wrong — but everyone messes up at least once in his/her life.

Salima continued her story: “So I wandered: I did my two years in biology, tried the competition — was devastated when I didn’t get it, like you are now… then realized it wasn’t at all what I wanted. So I took another path to the same job. But today I’m not doing bio-ecology at all.

And I couldn’t be happier. It took me eight years of studies though I wanted to do only four: still, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Even though I don’t use 10% of what I learned in college, it was very interesting and enriching. I work for the astrophysics department of our town: I discovered a passion I didn’t know I had. I have a wonderful family, though I said I didn’t want any children: today I can’t imagine my life without them. I wanted to work abroad, but I found out that I actually love it here and it was just a teenager’s way of rebelling.

“My life took an unexpected turn and it is much more exciting that way: it is scary but it is great not to know what’s coming next. Otherwise, life would be so boring — not stressful at all, but boring.”

Mariam was not aware that, in Salima’s youth, jobs like eco-biology didn’t exist. Some things she couldn’t really understand.

“Excitement and discoveries are what make life as great as it is.

Wandering might seem the same as being lost for some people, but it is actually the contrary: you’re seeing what’s out there, you’re trying to explore life, not just go through it.”

Salima took a deep breath:

“I don’t hate people whose lives are lined up anymore, I just feel a little bit sad for them. I feel like they’re missing out on things.

I am not saying you should try everything, but you should definitely try and discover new things: new food, new places, new people, new music… and new jobs, to see what you really like.

“It sounds like a platitude, but life is very, very short : you should enjoy everything it offers, as often as you can.

I am doing everything I can to enjoy the present. It sounds easy but it is actually a very hard thing to do, because you’re always caught up in everyday little tasks and stressing out about the future, or regretting the past.

So I keep on wandering, even if sometimes it is scary. I keep on trying new things: new food, new places, new meetings, new music, new job…
We all wander in life — some more than others. And you’re just beginning your journey. It is not going to be easy, but it is certainly going to be great.”

Salima smiled at Mariam. And Mariam was smiling back.

“I like that. The fact that we are wandering” said Mariam. “Thank you auntie.”

Mariam was lost into her thoughts when Salima closed the door behind her. On the porch, she paused for a second, wondering about her niece’s future.

Life took such an unexpected turn for her… what would it be for Mariam?

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