July, wow! … and only three more weeks until my first visit back to Canada since I left to the United Arab Emirates over one year ago. Thankfully, the timing hits the peak of Ramadan (rum-adan, for those who know my coping skills well) and I can break the heat, 90 percent humidity and unlike my fellow Canadian folk would share, I am hoping for a night of rain or a wicked thunder and lightning storm (of course, not when I am flying through it).
Sometimes, I feel like a little bit of a flake. That in knowing it was never easy coming out here and I certainly never had the rock-star landing most do (aside from the hundreds of thousands of ‘workers’ that have it ridiculously worse, sickening really, than I ever did), and knowing that after months and months of breaking life in the Middle East in, I have grown to adapt and am beginning to find my way here. I enjoy the sunshine, the milder version of heat, the tall buildings, accepting that people come and go, and learning to find challenging everything within myself just another day.It’s a bit over the top, okay a lot – we have the tallest tower in the World, the largest mall in the World, a Ski hill in the middle of the desert, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t stop myself, look around and go.. hrm… ridiculous… but, I am here and here it is. There are so many things one would never be exposed to, one wouldn’t dream of experiencing and the strange part about it is, you have to let yourself go, fall into it, leave everything you knew and grew comfortable with in the way you knew things before in order to really enjoy it. Sure, sometimes I feel like i lower my standards or compromise my values a bit, but it’s the only way the glass is going to be half full.
Thankfully, with the help of a lot of people, I have faced every challenge, gone off to the sideline, whined a bit, shed a few tears but ended up pushing through to make it work. So now what?
I learn all the time that things change, people change, goals change, ambition (if you are lucky to have it) changes. Its like the first year of university, when you leave high school, thinking life encompasses these educational walls and our only teachers are those we meet from 8am to 4pm Monday through Friday – to when you sit at the lunch table after your uni courses and realize you sharing a sandwich with someone who wants to be a doctor, a physiotherapist, an art teacher, a geologist, a UN International correspondent, or just another jackass passing time. You are exposed to so many people, ideas, dreams, ambitions that you never knew existed. I am not saying this place is the magical world of Disney full of imagineers with the next brilliant moving idea just around the corner, but its full of people from all walks of life, places, with each their own story. Here for something we all find common in each-other, more. Whether running away from something, looking to feel a little more connected from a place that never seemed right for us… whatever the story, hundreds of thousands of ex-pats end up here all bringing their story to you.
Finding yourself in Dubai is another story. It’s going to hit you like a pile of bricks and you will either catch them gracefully or let it push you to the ground. I suppose I have always been a free-spirited guy… taking every opportunity that presented itself to me, from job opportunities, travel and the new mixed rum drink. Some have faulted me for the constant change in my life, the desire to be better and run after the light that presented itself to me at the time. Some have been incredibly supportive. I have been reactive. Never knowing whats right in terms of the direction to choose or the next ambition to go after. But through it all, I know that I have no regrets and nor should anyone who has doubted me. Older generations have found their dreams, passions or their responsibilities necessary to maintain. Jumping around was not acceptable. For me, I have taken every opportunity as a continued education, if you will. The next opportunity that enables me to move forward, challenge myself a little more and hopefully provide me with a well-rounded experience. Sometimes you fail, sometimes you succeed. If you had asked me in the fist eight months of being here what side of the fence I was on, fail. But now, now, I feel a little like I am back on track. I have plugged through and actually left everything that was comfortable, everything I knew I loved and known so well for something completely different. I have tried so hard to be so much to so many people and for the first time in my life – this has been for me and me alone. I slapped myself a little, a needed so much to hug myself as though the group of loved ones I know were collaboratively squeezing me tight to let me know I was on the right track and ‘damn, boy – feel good about it, let it take you where it takes you, learn a lot, be kind and have a freaking good time doing it’. I needed to laugh and thankfully, since I laugh at my own jokes often, I could laugh back. I miss my family and friends, more than they know and I miss my friends that I have met here and have moved on, already.
Going home this year will be something special. …and will probably help the Canadian economy a little more with the amount of wine and rum that will be consumed not to go unnoticed with laughter and love. I have no idea what to expect. A little scared, a little excited, no matter what… hoping for nothing but good times and creating enough memories to keep me going another year.
Today, Canada Day and I proudly made a trip to Tim Hortons – cleared them out of doughnuts, timbits, double-doubles and a cardboard box full of coffee for the office. My desk was celebrated with the Canadian flag, pictures of Celine Dion and Justin Bieber, a can of maple syrup and the anatomy of a beaver.. to which one of my colleagues asked if this is where Justin Bieber got his name from. Sadly, the doughnuts didn’t go over with everyone in my office claiming to lose weight from their already-no-fat bodies, but the coffee went down well and I felt I had done my role as a Canadian and supported the local brands 12,000 km away from home. Sadly, hitting the pub at noon wasn’t an option – oh well, I guess their loss to fully understand the true Canadian hospitality.
Happy Canada Day, eh!