Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Only when you break the mundane cycle of daily life, by surrounding yourself with intergenerational friends, and plunging into spontaneous adventures, will you grow.
„Real love is one that triumphs lastingly, sometimes painfully, over the hurdles erected by time, space and the world, love truly is a unique trust placed in chance. — Alain Badiou”
I’m forever astonished by how trivial moments in life often gift us with precious nuggets of wisdom. In an attempt to break free from the worries and entanglements of the daily grind, we tend to embark on adventures with frivolous intentions, not knowing that those leisure days hold much more for us in store than fleeting pleasures. I came to realise this just recently during a night out. I was meant to meet a friend of mine to watch a football game in this Arab café somewhere in the heart of the city. And though I’m not really into football - having last endured a full match several years ago - I was looking forward to this meetup realising it as an opportunity to enjoy meaningful conversation, a rare pleasure in a faceless metropolis like London full of fakeness and facade.
That was why I resolved to adopt German punctuality, besides not wanting to make a brother wait unduly for no valid reason. Courtesy is a priceless virtue after all, and honour belongs to him who honours others. So after finishing my usual hair and beard grooming regiment, which always imbues me with a great feeling of aliveness, I left the apartment complex enveloped in a shiny, melanin aura, ready to dazzle any gathering place. Enthusiastic as I hadn’t been in a long while, I rushed to the agreed upon venue with lightning speed.
Once outside, I quickly realised that weather conditions weren’t as smooth and pleasant as things were for the brushy comb that slithered through my beard and hair. A rainstorm had left its traces on the road towards the station, making it hard to avoid messing up one’s outfit with the many pools of soil water that caught one off guard at every corner. The next challenge was pretty much about speed walking and not falling face forward onto the rainy and slippery concrete. Fortunately, at least public transport seemed as if it were on my side for once, blessing me with a seamless trip that would’ve surprised even the staunchest critic of Transport for London (TFL). It meant a memorable evening was almost guaranteed; I had dodged the usual mood spoilers with success, and the way was paved for good happenings to unfold.
By the time I reached the venue and pranced through the entrance door in boss mode, with my nose-tip high up in the sky and a swollen chest, I learned that my friend was running late. An unbelievable faux pax I thought. He turned into a culprit of the very thing I tried so hard to avoid, making a five in the afternoon meetup unilaterally become a six o’clock one, in line with the good old traditional custom of nomadic Somalia back when the sun’s angular position was the only clock available to folks. I truly felt like a fool for having wanted to turn up sharp on time.
To add insult to injury, the rude Arab guy behind the counter simply ignored me as I was standing in the middle of the entrance area waiting to be served. The game just started then, and a bunch of Qatari commentators assembled to share their thoughts on the teams and their players. It may have been a sense of urgency which they aroused in him at one stroke that explained why he just stood there inattentively - one arm folded into the other - while his bulging eyes fixated on the TV screen in a zombie like fashion. “He must be Egyptian,'' I muttered to myself. Who could blame the fellow for being more interested in watching his countryman Mohammad Salah bring glory to Egypt than serving some entitled customers?
Luckily for all parties involved, it was the aromatic smell of freshly brewed Arabian coffee that soothed my temper, and I sat down on a comfy sofa in the pavilion with a perfect view over the big TV screen. But it wasn’t until half the game was over when my friend finally arrived to fill the empty seat next to me. He obviously apologised for making me wait for so long and explained things in the most polite of ways; a family emergency that warranted his immediate attention was good enough an excuse for me to let go of my false sense of hurt pride. My spirit was also elevated by the fact that the game suddenly became more interesting; something akin to wonderwork must’ve miraculously turned the tides of Liverpool’s fortunes around, for they became stronger and fiercer in the second half of the match, eventually scored an impressive goal and won. Mohammad Salah left the pitch with standing ovation and everyone, including my friend Ahmed and the Egyptian waiter, had a blast of an evening: full of entertainment, conversation and laughter.
Later that evening, as we were making our way home walking through a cold and rainy breeze, he once again apologised for the late coming. I brushed it off by saying that half an hour is nothing, even though the delay was closer to an hour. The atmosphere was then suddenly laden by inspirational energy and I could tell that the older friend of mine seemed to want to say something meaningful. Being the natural storyteller that he is, the fellow began revealing vivid details of his life as I cloaked myself in silence. “I came late to the first date I had with my wife many years ago,” he cheerfully said with a melancholic tone in his voice. “How long was the delay?” I asked without thinking much about the question. “I made the girl wait for half an hour,'' he replied, adding that her patient and understanding reaction made him regard her as the special one. “That was the moment when I knew she is the one,” he concluded. This detail intrigued me, for I wondered what made the lady accept him despite the not so gentleman like blunder on the first date, where, as we all know, the first impression counts the most.
Of the entire evening, I liked that particular moment the most, as a kind of magical mist came up in which mutual exchange of inspirational energy found the right climate to unlock its full potential. It also made me remember a book about love that I read this year, by Alain Badiou, titled: “In Praise of Love”. In it he argues that we ought to remember that love is as much about patience and enduring unpleasantries as it is about pleasure; it is, to put it in his words, a unique trust placed in chance. We must wait for one another like the lady of my friend did for him, to demonstrate to the other how much we value the chance for togetherness. And I agree with Alain’s view that one will never be able to taste and experience the sweetness of genuine love without a willingness to put up with mishaps. For only when two souls adopt this attitude towards each other can they not only encounter, but also wholly experience the full beauty of love.