May 24, 2010

Beauty Is

Your light's reflected now, reflected from afar
We were but stones, your light made us stars

Pearl Jam

It has been a month and I still have Pat Tillman on my mind. After reading and writing about the Jon Kraukaur book about his life, I have been unable to rid myself of the weight of his life. I recently read, Boots on the Ground By Dusk, another book about Pat written this time by his mother. This post, however, is not meant to be a review of the book, although it was beautiful and intimately written. This post is not even meant to be a deeper look at Pat’s life, although I will touch on it to springboard my thoughts.

I want to write about the impact learning about Pat Tillman’s life has had my life. Or better put, how I hope it will affect my life. There is a chapter in the book, where Mary Tillman transcribes the various speeches given at Pat’s memorial service. As I was reading, with tears in my eyes, I began to think about what kinds of things my friends and family would say about me at my service.

Reading about Tillman’s life has made me realize that life is too short to spend being apathetic and bored. The last three years have been rough on me. I can already see people shaking their heads, my wife included. Why would I complain about spending the last three years watching my two amazing daughters grow each day? I am not saying it has been all bad, but living here in Qatar has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It may be hyperbole to say that a part of me has died after living here, but it is not an exaggeration to say that I have had to spend much of my days on auto-pilot in order to stay sane. I have been a productive teacher, a loving father, a good friend, and I hope a reliable husband, but the part of my spirit that burns bright and fuels my creative spirit and those around me, the Pat Tillman in me, has been bidding his time. I am not sure if the moping, tired, withdrawn person who enters the rooms here in Doha is the same person that I could be. I am not sure that I am this guy anymore:
The single best thing about Pat’s life is that he made you feel alive…He made you challenge things, he made you appreciate everything every day, he made you appreciate your family and friends and respect them, he made you laugh, he made you think and made you want to be a better person.
Maybe, I am being to hard on myself or on Doha. Maybe this slowing down is all part of growing up. But I hope that after reading Tillman’s story and moving away from the desert, both literately and figuratively, I can focus more of my energy on spreading the light that I know still burns inside me. I have written enough posts about various things I want to do to become more like the person I want to be, so I will spare you reader a fresh manifesto. I simply want to say that I feel like the flame that has been flickering inside me for the last three years has had a fresh breath of air. Thanks to Pat Tillman, I hope that I can begin to appreciate the words spoken by Jake Plummer at Tillman’s memorial service:
To me beauty is living life to a higher standard, stronger morals and ethics and believing in them, whether people tell you are right or wrong. Beauty is not wasting a day. Beauty is noticing life’s little intricacies and taking time out of your busy day to really enjoy those little intricacies. Beauty is being real, being genuine, being pure with no faƧade-what you see is what you get. Beauty is expanding your mind, always seeking knowledge, nit being content, always going after something and challenging yourself.


  1. "the Pat Tillman in me."

    what a bueatiful phrase, jabiz.
    i love the idea that we all have our own pat tillman inside of us. and that, if nothing else, tillman's life served to remind us who we really are when we are honest enough to grow into our highest self.

  2. Frederic6:21 AM

    Read your post twice and wrote a few paragraphs using my iPod but all got erased when I tried to send.
    Will try again tomorrow from the computer.
    Cheer up

  3. Frederic6:28 PM

    Hey Teacher Jabiz,

    Cheer up. Things are going to be so much better with your next move.

    Meanwhile, we have known many teachers in Sharjah British School (1977-1987) and in Muscat where our daughter and son attended the American British Academy 1987-1998).

    Those teachers seemed very happy and we shared many great parties and wild weekends with some of them.

    Fair enough, Qatar is probably, with Saudi, the worse countries of the Middle East. But still, with many expats there, social life should
    have some moments of joy? I still have friends working there (French) and they seem to be OK.

    I guess that the mentality of the 21st century expat might be different than the one we have known for almost 25 years, up to 2002. And of course, the locals have changed a lot as well according to some recent articles linked in your posts.

    I never heard of Pat Tilman until reading your post today. I'll try to read something from him soon, as per your recommendation.

    Take care and look on the bright side with a great new life starting soon in a much more friendly country.

    Old age is upon me now, though I am still feeling like in my 40s and wish I could start all over again.

    Cheers and good luck with the move.