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Figuring out where the next chapter should take place
I'm an unlikely traveler. I've spent most of my life staying put and playing it safe for long stretches of time. Every now and then, though, I heed the call to pull up all my roots, run off somewhere and try something radically different. In August 2009 I flew out to Cairo on a one-way ticket for my first trip through the Middle East, leaving behind no home to return to.
I spent Ramadan in Egypt, than traveled through Syria and Jordan, finally settling in Dahab, Sinai, where I restarted my massage business as dahabmassage.com. I'm back in NYC for now, crashing at my mother's place. I got back in time for the Occupy movement, and it morphed me into a video activist. I'm planning to step back from this and get back to my practice, my independence and my journey, but I have one last project, a full-length documentary.
Hmmm... getting time to rewrite this section; it's old. Not priority right now, though...
I have absolutely no interest in persuading anyone to think as I do. The following is not a sermon but an introduction of an aspect of myself.
Two of my favorite Sufi aphorisms:
"There are as many roads to Allah as there are human souls".
"Allah is your lover, not your jailor."
My religion is not a cave, but a nest. My soul comes to rest there, but flies in the open sky. My beliefs are heretical and in the end I think what a person does is far more important than what they believe, anyway.
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING
I joined CouchSurfing in the summer of 2009 as I was preparing for my Middle East trip. I Surfed in Egypt, Jordan and Syria, had lots of beautiful and edifying experiences, including making lasting friendships.
A few weeks after wandering into Dahab, I rented a 2-bedroom apartment in Assalah, Chateau Ghettolicious. The second bedroom was specifically for guests, and it was my pleasure to return some of the great karma that I'd been showered with since I joined CS.
At the present I can not host, but I am happy to meet interesting people and show them the city in my eyes.
It has really been incredible. I have met such wonderful people and made lasting friendships. Have had very few negative experiences, and I credit this to my diligence in reading profiles and carefully choosing who I approach with my Couch Requests, and blithely dismissing the majority of Requests I get (the copy & paste variety.)
UPDATE: ever since I returned to NYC and lost my ability to host, I hardly hear a peep out of CS, except for the occasional copy-and-paste request for hosting, and one guy who actually just wanted to meet a local to hang out, bothered to read my profile and send an e-mail he had clearly composed for me alone... but even he never bothered to write a reference after I'd spent most of the day with him and gave him a good bike tour of the city from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, and he'd clearly enjoyed the experience. So I'm a bit cynical about CS these days.
Easier to say what I'm not interested in: sports, mainstream pop culture, fashion, celebrities. I think just about anything else is interesting. In particular: religion (Islam in particular), spirituality, psychology, history, music, language. Yoga, energy work, and of course massage. Conscious dreaming. Shamanic journeying. Queer sexuality, particularly bi and poly.
Music, Movies, and Books
A few of my favorite books:
The Power of Now, Eckart Tolle (this book has been extremely influential on me and I am happy to share copies of it);
The four canonical Gospels and the Gospel of Thomas;
Muhammad: a Biography of the Prophet, Karen Armstrong.
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll
In all honesty, though, these days I read stuff on the Web a lot more than anything in print.
a few of my favorite films: Down by Law, I [Heart] Huckabees, Harold and Maude, The Phantom of Liberty...
There is so much music I love I almost don't want to mention any musicians; almost anything brilliant and passionate appeals to me... here are a few I particularly love: Sparks, Rammstein, Metallica, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abdel Halim Hafez, Duke Ellington, Fantômas, Frank Zappa, King Sunny Adé, Hamza El Din, the Skatalites, Tom Waits...
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
Spent a timeless time in psychic communication with a woman left bedridden and mute by a stroke.
I had accepted a new acquaintance's offer to do magic mushrooms with him, and after we were well under the influence, it emerged that in order to make time for me, my young friend was shirking the daily duty he'd agreed to in exchange for his room and board --- visiting his paralyzed grandmother in the rest home. So, against his protests, I insisted we go straight there.
At one point he left me alone with her in the room, and realizing the unfair advantage I had with my ability to speak, I chose to say little, but listen intensely in the silence. I focussed all my attention on how she expressed herself with the movements of her eyes, slight twitches in her face, changes in her breath, and all the subtleties of a person's presence that we feel without actually sensing anything. Like an attendee of a Quaker meeting, I spoke only when inspired to, and I was rewarded with a deep sense of connection with this woman. I felt as if we had really conversed, and moreover, not as new acquaintances do with small talk, but as old friends sharing the crucial things of life.
It happened that while we were there, his parents stopped by and I got to see how people tend to interact with people who can not speak or act for themselves. While they had not lost love for this family member, they unconsciously treated her as if she were not entirely there, talking with each other about her in the third person, with only passing glances at her. I could see that in fact, it was they who were not entirely there. They were seeing the world and interacting through a screen of their own words, a delusory state considered normal in our society. They had no idea what could have opened up between them and her if they could only shared a bit of her silence.
At one point after my friend's parents left, he said something about his grandmother being unable to express herself. I said that on the contrary, I felt that she expressed herself profoundly. His grandmother punctuated this with the deepest of sighs.
Teach, Learn, Share
I fear I have little practical knowledge to show for my years. I'd be happy to give pointers to anyone wanting to improve their massage skills, and I might be able to help you with your computer.
Of course, the really precious lessons are what we learn from each other just by being truly present. I make no claim of being particularly present, I just mention this as something you can hold me to at any time!
If I make a Couch Surf request of you, it means I want to meet you and not just crash at your place. That said, I also would like to say that I'm a reasonably independent traveler and do not expect you to serve me as tour guide. I will work around your schedule if you are busy. When a guest, unless very tired, I'm always happy to give massage, to cook, help clean and generally keep my hosts' lives running as smoothly as possible. And of course digital treasures are made for sharing!
Countries I’ve Visited
Czech Republic, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic
Countries I’ve Lived In
Australia, Egypt, United States