The other day I read about a man who took a different route to work every day for 9 consecutive years. Inspired, I chose to drive the longer road to work this morning, even though I was already late. The longer road came with a 7-minute drive along the main sea road of Gaza, and I couldn’t resist the offer on this sunny winter day.
Cold winds swept over the sea and caused a mass uprising of the white waves. The sea was perfectly blue, and it reflected perfectly on the cloudless sky. I couldn’t take my eyes off this natural reminder of my city's spotless beauty as I was driving, until I decided to stop the car and take a step closer to the sea.
I leaned on the old rustling sea street fence and breathed in the chilly breeze of the Mediterranean. Whose face did this same breeze brush against this morning? Where did the winds bring this breeze from, and how many other Mediterranean cities did it trek through?
One of my favorite ways of recording beautiful memories is by connecting them to music. Being an avid music listener, I believe that memories that come with a melody are way more precious and memorable than the ones that don’t. What usually happens when you feel yourself in perfect harmony with nature, at the climax of self-inspired peace, in complete detachment from the rest of the world, is you start thinking of ways to record this eternal sunshine of a thought as accurately as possible. How are you going to describe it in your diary? Which parts of it are you going to share with friends? Once you return to the world, how are you going to connect that almost-unreal essence of your ephemeral experience with thoughts that have been lingering in your head before you went to bed last night?
This morning, however, none of my favorite sea songs collided with the making of the memory. Instead, my ears where filled with a Mediterranean melody, orchestrated by a chilly January wind conductor, and played by a soft ticklish breeze, the collision of white waves against the rocky beach, and seagulls swimming on the surface of the sea. I escaped the world during that eternal moment of insurmountable beauty, yet felt like the whole world was mine.
It is the ability to fully live exceptional moments like these that enables us to live life to the happiest, regardless of where we live it. Do you know how to grasp the happiness that sprinkles out of a blooming flower? Are your ears capable of catching that extra ecstatic melody in a bird's song? Does your brain ask you to reread that line in a book, verse in a poem that made you smile? Do you feel the warmth in your heart that springs at the sight and company of those who you love override the chills of January?
The above is not meant to be the introduction to a new version of "1 Million Ways to Live a Happy Life." These ways are relative and amount to more than one million. What I'm trying to show here is that the world should not be surprised that we can enjoy happy lives in Gaza. True, Gaza is not problem-free, but neither is the rest of the world. Regardless of what the problems are, it all comes down to our humanity, and it is on the grounds of our humanity that we should communicate. I should not evoke your sympathy because I come from Gaza, I should evoke your sympathy if I was a person with a weak sense of humanity. You should not offer me help because I come from besieged Gaza; you should offer me help if you see that my humanity needs help. We are equals on the basis of our humanity, which also means that a person living in Gaza’s poorest refugee camp can be more humane and happier than a person living in a palace in Paris. In that case, the person from Gaza should offer help to the person in Paris, and so forth.
There's a lot more that I wanted to write in this article. I wanted to write about the euphoric smiles and laughs that people in Gaza are blessed with, and about a beautiful old house that's being renovated in the heart of Gaza's Old City. I wanted to talk more about Gaza's historically paramount geopolitical location on the Mediterranean, making it an ancient cosmpolis and a center for literature and arts. I want the world to know that joy, hope, and a beautiful history exist in Gaza, but I feel that I've done enough with this article. I want to conclude by saying that it's for this and other euphoric moments, and for the very same reasons that you devotedly love the place you were born or live in that I love Gaza. Naturally, and based on what I argue in this article, these moments can be enjoyed anywhere on Earth, but Gaza has a special place in my heart for teaching me how to do it, and more importantly, for nurturing my humanity.