When The Lever Breaks

By Sonya Rehman

This month, while cabbing it on a windy weekday in Dubai, the lever finally broke.

A few weeks ago, a friend had tagged me in a sound clip on Facebook, about how patience stems from gratitude. It was a wonderful, short sermon that made an awful lot of sense. We’re constantly told, to “be patient” when things get sticky, but how does one get around to really ‘living’ it, living patience?

Gratitude.While I had been thinking about gratitude for a while and the magic that comes with being in a state of loving gratitude, it was only until my trip to the mini-cosmopolitan-city/emirate that something within me began to change. And it had absolutely nothing to do with me. I’m no sage. But I realized that gentle, internal changes within us, push through the sinews of our souls, by one, sole act. And that is this: listening to people, interacting with people, treating them like your teachers, knowing that you can learn something from their life experiences, knowing that you can take away some lesson from their lives and implement it into your own.

For me, personally, that’s how I found gratitude for a brief, few minutes. But I I couldn’t summon the feeling without some effort. I had to work it like a muscle. But when it did, I was overwhelmed, albeit fleetingly.

At Jumeirah
At Jumeirah

Dubai: sand and malls. Richness. Branded goodness. Polite cab drivers. Domestic help who’ve left behind children, spouses, old lives, to work long hours to put money together – bit by bit. Arab men and their chiseled faces. Arab women and their large-hipped lustiness. Shiny, new, everything. Pretentious? Yes. Snobbish? Yes. A beautiful bubble built, put together, by the have-nots. And I saw them every day. The desi construction workers, putting together gleaming buildings, bit by bit. The sports cars, the long work hours, the will, desire, to make more, do more, have more, want more. That’s where it happened. My lever broke. Consciously, with some effort, and some self-awareness. There’s no hard and fast rule, but that’s what worked for me.

The day before, the Aunt who I was staying with, told me about her father. We were sitting at a noisy fast food joint when she talked about him. How his last three months, before his passing on, made her realize that it was not she who was being of service to him – but him, who had infact, given her the opportunity to be of service to him. I really took away something from that conversation. It broke my heart on one level, yet on another, it helped me in grasping the notion of true service – and for me, that translates into being a good listener. Giving people the opportunity to talk.It’s a two-way street – you’re allowed to visit the depths of their innermost thoughts, experiences, take a stroll through past hardships, current struggles, and then, begin rectifying shortcomings within yourself, simultaneously.

Inter-dependence. Pehchaan. Sight for the ‘other.’

We’re all just walking each other home. – Ram Dass



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