It's been a long week, made longer by a work conference in Dubai on Saturday. I was pretty impressed with myself, making it there without a single wrong turn along the way. I think about myself a year ago and I think about myself now, and there's nothing like experience to fuel one's confidence. When we first arrived I was terrified by the prospect of driving around the city because of the craziness of other drivers and not knowing where anything was. The drivers haven't gotten any less crazy, but I can find my way to Ikea without a map and there's no small comfort in that.
|Photo booth, the real reason we needed a new Mac|
Recently I bought a new computer. It's a sleek and shiny new iMac, a beautiful thing really, but purchasing it wasn't nearly as fun as it should be. It's hard to enjoy replacing things you never wanted to replace in the first place.
Karate is in full swing. James is now a proud member of the dojo and has been enjoying himself immensely. Having the karate club so close has been a godsend for us. With homeschooling, it can be very easy to go days without leaving the apartment. Once the water cools a bit, the parks and beaches will be an option for us, but for the time being if we want to get out, it means we choose one of the many malls nearby and wander its air conditioned corridors while trying to resist the pull of the surrounding sales. With Karate, they get out of the house two nights a week, get some great exercise and have someone other than their mother or father telling them what to do. There is no downside.
The heat and foreigners of cultures and languages in this place tend to foster isolation. It's very easy to get so wrapped up in the cares and concerns of one's life that you become oblivious to the wants and needs of those outside your very tight circle. It takes more effort to think outside yourself and serve others because those opportunities for service are less apparent. So, it was with some satisfaction that we received a call from some friends earlier this week at 12:30 in the morning. When you receive calls at 12:30 AM it's for one of two reasons: either the person on the other end has woefully misjudged the time difference or there's an honest to goodness emergency. Our friends had just been evacuated from their apartment because of a small fire and they needed a place for their family of six to spend the night. Within 20 minutes we had couches, cushions and sleeping bags ready to receive them. It felt really good to see a need and then be able to fulfill it. It is a real blessing to be able to serve. I'm not happy for the stress and panic our friends experienced, but I can't help but be a little grateful for it. By the way, there was no damage to their apartment and they were back into their own digs by late morning.
And, on a final note, Julie and I just finished reading Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Baumeister and Tierney. I bought it on a whim after reading a review of it in the New York Times (the irony of this is not lost on me). The book reviews, in a very accessible way, a host of studies that have been done on our ability to resist temptation and the effects of stress and decision making on our overall willpower. If you have every done anything stupid and not been able to understand why you did it, then this may be the book for you. It's forced me to think not so much about some of the decisions I've made as much as conditions and circumstances surrounding those decisions.