Tranquility. Solitude. Two words you grow to appreciate living in a crazy town like Cairo. The appeal of detaching yourself from the chaotic, mindless beehive can become irresistible at times. For the average worker bee reflection and introspection are shunned.
Contained by the strait-jacket of the system, you feel the urge to break loose. You find consolation on a small scale. You become shackled by daily routine, dragging the ball and chain of career progression and personal gain. You lose touch with your higher aspirations and subdue them with worldly pacifiers. Realism: attending to the attainable blurs the big picture as you focus on minute detail. Denying the mind and neglecting the spirit you feel your soul decay – just another statistic.
You begin to appreciate the appeal of escapism.
You decide to explore it. Not a hermit by nature or by nurture you decide to switch habits temporarily. Get a new perspective.
You head off to the desert. You walk up a winding cliff road to solitude. The background ding of civilisation fades away. Quiet, Only the sound of crunching sand on tarmac, a blustery gale blowing. Overshadowing the rhythmic exhalations of your breath. You walk in anticipation of a car passing by to take you the rest of the way up. It does not materialise. Nearly there, you detour to water the desert.
You walk into the crumbling courtyard of an ancient monastery. You sit in stark contrast to the assembled company. You sip your tea.
A rationalist in the midst of mystics
A city dweller in the midst of hermits
An extrovert of sorts amongst introverts
Directness versus indirectness
Social interaction versus isolation
Unity versus trinity
Modernism amongst conservatism
Clarity of purpose and outlook against confusion
The wisdom of age versus the questioning of youth
All in search of inner peace. All struggling with balancing the self against the greater good. Varying conceptions and definitions of what self and doing good mean.
You find yourself in audience with the head monk. A moment of deafening silence ensues. Pages turn. Tape rolls into life hoping to capture some meaningful answers. The silence is broken. You ask your first question and listen.