The North African Connection

We sat with coffees in hand and ten years of catch-ups to start unraveling. I am surrounded by more extraordinary women, and our mouths are whirling dervishes between French, Arabic, and Tunisian.

One of my greatest loves has always been rain across the sea, more than a sunny day, always. This was my little piece of happiness landing in rainy Tunis, and heading home, where our windows overlook sea storms.

Over the last 24 hours, I have received questions and concerns about yesterday’s post. Thank you all. It’s simple, really – I recently placed myself in the negative space of Judgemental Asshole. The world is easier when I can call some people ‘just bad’, isn’t it? If I can use this language, then I am released from the responsibilities of softness, and understanding, of ‘L’ove in its greatest sense.

This is who I become when someone draws blood – indignant and with eyes that only see black and white. I am very specific and unyielding about it; also totally demented, in fact. It is a defense mechanism, a way to triple myself so that I might stand in my own corner.

Several times this week I asked Jenn “But don’t you think that when someone does 50 bad things and only 2 good things, they are JUST BAD?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Every time, she answered no. Every time, I added more “!!!!!!!!” to my question. Until last night, when she handed me a particular chapter from one of my preferred authors and told me to read it. I made it through perhaps four pages before I made like Humpty Dumpty, fell off a wall, and cracked my ass in half. In part because the author was spot-on. In part because I am at war with myself, the softness in me – the her I work to be every day, the one I try most to nurture, was finally able to come up for air. I have been suffocating her since some point in the UAE.

The author asked: What If They Are Just Doing Their Best?, and I choked. Because I know. I know that this is the actual struggle. We are all doing the best that we can, while the best that belongs to you reaches a different level than my own. And this does not leave room for judgment, or indignation. Instead, it forces us to be understanding. To look at someone with sometimes pity, sometimes sorrow, but mostly with empathy. To look at them and know that no one is more aware and more certain of their shortfalls than they are. To know that, unless they are proper sociopaths, they feel shameful because they know.

To look at them with the same eyes we hope others will use when looking at us, when we are fucking things up. Because we will. Because the human condition is to constantly fuck it all up all over the place and then come back to fuck up the thing we missed during Rounds 1 through 735.

And the kicker? I was still shaking my fist and asking But how do we hold them accountable if they’re Just Doing Their Best but still drawing blood?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A question that died on my lips because judgment is not mine to make, is it? It is God’s. And all I can do, so that I exercise humility, and know my place in this Universe, is to close with “….God made them do it. I don’t know why.”

Sound familiar? This is because I have come full circle once more to The Salt-Water Softness Philosophy.

I mean. At least I am consistent, when not too busy being a Judgmental Asshole. Seems I just signed a peace agreement with myself.


Now. Before leaving Paris, and so I remain true to my word, I took a photo for you as promised. Here I am inside our elevator (max. occupancy THREE humans, none of which must have ever allowed a fried object to grease their lips) with my one piece of luggage. I am not pretending whatever this look is on my face –

Today, I am grateful for:
1. Hearing the athan once more. It is an easy call to prayer, offering a little tug on my heels.
2. Sissina, and Azooza. Sisters, they are all hugs and kisses and snuggles. There is nothing for which to not be thankful, alhamduliLah.
3. Bird songs, which flood this house. It means that the trees are nearby (which they are, filling the yard).

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