Saturday, December 6, 2014

2014: An Extraordinary Ordinary Year

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

This article appeared as the Carte Blanche of the december issue of ArabAd magazine:
Depending which generation you ask, the person who said “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is either German philosopher Nietzsche or American songstress Kelly Clarkson, and guess what? Both of them are wrong. What doesn’t kill you makes you mellower, more human, and wiser due to experience – but certainly not stronger. If anything, what doesn’t kill you makes you more appreciative of the small reasons to be thankful for.
The 2014 calendar year is indeed ending, so let’s recap what happened: Some people were born, others died, some got married, some broke up (or “consciously uncoupled” if they were Gwyneth Paltrow and former partner Chris Martin), some experienced career difficulties, some went through smooth sailing, some experienced health issues, while others were blessed with none.
Bottom line: It was an extraordinary ordinary year.
Nothing special went on. Heck, it’s not even a round figure year which would allow us to “Party Like 1999” – because the next thing you know is that you’re in 2000. And it’s not 1983 so that the year that follows is the much dreaded Orwellian 1984. No, wrong number (sorry, it’s a pun!) – it’s just 2014, followed by the also remarkably bland 2015.
Naturally, this is just a dim assessment preparing for the many things there are to celebrate in the year that has gone by. Such as? I am sure some of you experienced laughter to a colleague’s joke, perhaps your partner surprised you with a much coveted item you have been dreaming of (yes, this includes small gestures such as ice cream when you were craving it, or taking the kids out while you visit the nail spa), perhaps you had an uninterrupted siesta just when you needed it (and your one-year old toddler was miraculously silent throughout), or a friend lent you a jacket at a concert (to which you got those sought after tickets) just when the Baalbeck evening was getting chilly.
Did you enjoy the holiday that fell on a Monday rendering your weekend long and lazy? Did anyone make you a warm cup of tea of you kicked your shoes at the end of a long working day (perhaps dealing with an annoying advertising client)? Did you enjoy that episode of The Good Wife entitled “hitting the fan” when all hell broke loose in the face of Alicia Florrick? Could you have binge-watched the previous seasons of Mad Men in preparation of next year’s seven concluding episodes?
Maybe you loved seeing reruns of Harem el Sultan, or waited for Law (with Elissa singing the intro theme) everyday during Ramadan. Could it be that you finally found the perfect handyman who is honest, cost-efficient and does the job on time? (If you have, give me his number). Maybe, on an idle afternoon, as you walked through a mall, your heart skipped a beat as you saw the incredibly designed nightstand which goes gloriously with your bedroom style? Or you saw yourself looking handsome/pretty in that deeply discounted item which originally was way above your budget.
Did an offspring or nephew offer you a gesture of generosity that left you dumbstruck (mine did!), or a friend let you rant your nonsense never once interrupting you on one of those dog day afternoons? Better yet, your sibling or close relative who immigrated to US/Europe/Canada came back for three weeks this summer and you had a blast having a family reunion (and there was a big family lunch which prolonged itself to a full-fledged evening on the breezy veranda). Did you sit by the pool watching someone you care for – a child, niece, or young parent – do the laps as they emerged triumphant and looking for your approval on hot Saturday afternoon? Has your grandparent finally deemed you were worthy of that dinner service or classic piece of jewelry the whole clan was coveting?
All those are incredibly common occurrences, events not worth mentioning “in the grand scheme of things”, but they do make the years seem brighter, more enjoyable, and certainly “extraordinary ordinary” but in a wonderful way. Here’s to many more of those events in 2015!

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