x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The Ali Column: Find the good here, there and in-between

Let's make the best out of our journeys, enjoy the time in the world you just left behind and the one that you are yet to arrive at – a "third space".

While I was flying to Shanghai for one of my business trips a few months ago, I started to reflect on why everyone who travels by plane gets jet lag. For one, I find it quite strange that while flying you actually feel as if you are wandering between two worlds - the world you just left behind and the one that you are yet to arrive at. And in between you have the multiple time zones you have to pass through.

This in-between space is like a "third space", filled with different experiences, expectations and impressions and can be a bit of a culture shock in itself. For example, you could be trying to communicate with a flight passenger next to you who doesn't understand your language or the pilot could all of a sudden start talking in a language that you have never heard before.

Of course, it's exhausting for us humans to have to deal with all the diverse impressions, because we tend to structure our thoughts and whatever we see so as to make things easier for us. But what about trying to concentrate on just one of them?

Let's say, for example, you have to transfer airplanes at an airport in a country you know nothing about. Your experiences there might seem strange but, whatever happens, just try to see it as a part of your journey.

When we travel on an airplanes, often, we just want to get to our destination safely, right? To keep from worrying too much we preoccupy ourselves by watching movies or listening to music. Now, isn't it strange that we think about our safety so much on the airplane, which is a safer means of transportation than, say, an automobile? Maybe this fear emerges because we feel a complete void between the points of arrival and departure, or because we are heavily influenced by the Hollywood movies about dangerous plane incidents. Who knows?

What I am trying to say is that we are all travellers on this earth. We are all searching for orientation and need structure in our lives. Moments of irritation during our journeys are not only necessary to make sure that we know where we belong and what's important to us, but also occur in daily life whenever we are confronted with new and foreign situations.

I encourage everyone who embarks on their own journey to pay attention to their surroundings and try to see the good around them even if it appears to be frustrating and overwhelming. If you want to find the good or the bad, you will find it. It's all a matter of perception and how we deal with the experiences - on the plane or in other everyday situations. In the end, it's your decision to either take the road less travelled or the path of least resistance.

So, let's make the best out of our journeys. There will always be people who might not see things our way, but having empathy for those differences can only broaden your horizons. I pray these words will help many of the residents of our beloved country to understand that we are all "jet-laggers" to other cultures, meaning we all face moments where things are not that clear, but at the same time, if we manage to positively embrace this change of environment and translate it into a positive energy, the outcomes will be just perfect and you won't be affected for long by the jet lag.

artslife@thenational.ae

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