Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Higher Powers & Making Plans

My summer started with a huge rush as my entire family arrived in Jordan for a two week adventure throughout the Levant. We drove up and down Jordan doing ever touristy or untouristy (and thus even cooler) thing I could think of. We flew to Lebanon and drove to Syria. I was determined for them to love this crazy desert as much as I do. Therefore, I even (gasp) planned in advanced so that my elaborate itinerary would not balance in the hands of people who did or did not fee like doing their jobs on those particular days. Well, guess what. Tons of things fell apart, like the van I had booked months in advance, the caters that flaked out (two different ones), and my Syrian visa that never came (even though I submitted everything well in advance).

This is the lesson that I have learned and relearned throughout my time in the Middle East: your fate is God's will (inshallah is the magic word). On one hand, it has been a tremendous release to ease my grip on the Western technique of obsessive-compulsive micromanagement. Things often don't work out the way you hope. Life goes on. But on the other hand, people in this region often take this to mean that they don't have to do anything (i.e. their jobs) to make sure plans/reservations/deposits are respected. Consequently, everyone is constantly yelling at each other that they need something NOW and that they are MORE important than everyone else. They will fight tooth and nail to get EXACTLY what they want. And then if it doesn't work out, then it was God's will. So living here has also shortened my already fairly short fuse. Everything from making sure my water is delivered on time to ensuring that my monthly paycheck is accurate to renting a car for the agreed time and price are always exercises in how firm, pushy and demanding I can be.

It's exhausting. I constantly strive to balance between detailed planning that inevitably falls through and lazy arrogance that culminates in making last minute demands. So the goal is to prepare as much as I can within reason, expect the worse, and when it doesn't work out, be firm and stand up for myself. Because no matter whose fault it was that things didn't work out, God is still watching.