I wanted to travel to Lebanon to visit my colleagues there for the first time. Of course, the nation is bordered on two sides by Syria, the US State Department warns against travel there and ISIS held national headlines at the time, so I contacted the friends I knew who had experience with the area to get a sense of the real danger versus the sensationalized.
No one would guarantee that traveling to Tripoli was completely safe or promise that I had nothing to worry about and one friend who had the most experience with the Middle East (although for the most part only with the most dangerous areas of it) told me stories about hostages being traded and sold that was pretty scary. The videos of beheadings were haunting, too, especially for an overall violence-averse person who can’t even stomach an episode of Game of Thrones.
This is how fear works.
We fear not what is most probable (e.g. climate change), but what captures our imaginations most viscerally, even if it’s extremely improbable (e.g. being kidnapped by terrorists). The easier and more terrifying it is to imagine, the more we fear it, and the more likely we are to act to avoid it. Fear is illogical.
I know this, but I am not fearless.
A friend of mine wrote, "Lindsey, you are being poised for exponential growth and all these fears and inquiries are your body’s natural response to not wanting to change. Our body often resists change; it is the heart’s job to guide us forward into the beauty of the unknown." My heart booked the flight. My heart books all of my flights, now that I think about it.
Here’s what I have to report: I felt safe. I felt welcomed. I felt extremely well taken care of. Extremely.
In Lebanon I met some of the smartest, friendliest and most generous people I’ve ever met. This is coming from someone who lives in San Francisco and was raised in The Heart of It All - I know all about these three types, and I mean this genuinely.
Many thanks to Hani and his wife, Lisa, for teaching me how to eat for a full six hours, for presenting me with the freshest and most delicious food I could possibly consume over that length of time (and which is not accessible in the US no matter how hard I try), for helping me navigate Arabic as a (very) beginner to the language, and for introducing me to two new friends, their most adorable children, Tulin and Ali.
Also thanks to Hani’s parents and sisters, Mirna and Amal, for the traditional meal in Syr, of which I ate a full three servings and can still taste when I think of it, and Lisa’s parents for the sweet bungalow by the sea where I worked on the balcony on late nights and floated in the sea on early mornings and loved every minute of it.
And to Sonia and Tharaa for teaching me about the hijab and laughing at me; to Wassim for teaching me oriental dancing; to Samer and Jana for letting me come to their beautiful wedding; and to Abed for shaking my hand even though he wasn’t supposed to for religious reasons, but as a compromise for the fact that I wanted to hug him.
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