First of all, let me say thank you for all the congratulations, warm wishes, warnings, and announcements that I am out of my mind.
Of course I’m out of my mind. What kind of a person gives up his stock options to move into a VW bus and discover what it’s like to be homeless in the middle of a Northwest Winter? What kind of anarchist joins the Marine Corps? What kind of person moves to Hawaii with $100 and no plan? What kind of person starts to get his degree at the age of 35? What kind of person buys a round trip ticket with no intention of using the return and no plan of what he will do? What kind of person smokes salvia divinorum dozens of times in an attempt to lose his mind? What kind of a person reads the bible, the koran, the tao te ching, and even the Satanic Bible and finds truth in all of them? What kind of person wants money and fame and yet hates money and fame at the same time?
I will tell you what kind of person. A person that is out of their mind. So for those of you who are worried or concerned, there is no need to be. I am just as out of my mind as I have always been and that is not likely to change.
So here I am in Morocco. I meet a girl that physically, mentally, and spiritually is the woman of my dreams. There are no illusions here, she has issues, I have issues, we both are fundamentally flawed human beings and that is okay. As you no doubt read, I had red flags rising all over the place telling me to run, to wait, to hide, to give up, to continue moving on. So did she. So does her family. So does her community. But you know what? Shit happens. And so does love.
Sometimes you meet someone and you just know. Yes there have been other people I have loved, yes I have attempted to share my life with other women, and yes, I have failed in the past. You know where I have failed? I have failed by listening to those cautions, by listening to those warnings, by allowing my fear to dictate the terms of my life. Why should we wait? Should we wait so that we aren’t completely committed to each other and we can use that and fear as an excuse to drive wedges between us? Should we wait because we don’t know each others flaws well enough? Should we wait because commitment requires time?
No. Love happens. This isn’t a fairy tale, this isn’t a story, this isn’t a movie or a film. This is life. This is my life, it is Hanane’s life, and this is also your life. Some of you reading this are shaking your head and thinking that I am delusional. Maybe, but I will tell you what, you are delusional. You are all going to die, just like me, you are not going to live forever, you are going to die and it could happen in minutes or it could happen in decades. We are all going to die. You won’t be taking those bank accounts with you, you won’t be taking your cars, your houses, your clothes, or anything else. If we are all very lucky, there is an afterlife and we will be able to take some of our loves and passions and experiences on this plane with us, but we cannot know that. We can have faith, but we cannot know.
All we can know is that all of this ends for us at some undetermined time (unless you choose to end it yourself at a predetermined time).
So, why should we wait? Should we wait to tell the people we love that we love them? Should I wait to make certain my love for Hanane is real? How long? Six months? A year? Three years? That is insanity. I’ve seen marriages where they waited and failed and I’ve seen marriages where they didn’t wait and they still succeeded. The reason my past relationships failed was because of fear and because of not being willing to commit.
I fail when I don’t commit. We all do.
So again, thank you all for your concerns. I appreciate and love you. I hope that you all take a moment to consider that death could be waiting in your driveway or kitchen or workplace and commit yourself to living your life right now. The future may never come, but the moment is here, now. Take it because it is all you have.
So, what has been happening?
I took a week to travel around Morocco and consider whether to commit or not. Trust me a week by yourself in a country where no one really speaks your language is like ten months in a place where they do because you get time to think. I traveled alone but made some friends along the way.
I thought and thought and thought and I realized that right now, right here, I have the chance to do something wonderful. I have the chance to commit myself to a woman who has told me that if I don’t officially convert, she will still love me even though her religion and country frown on this, a woman who speaks better English than me, who has overcome difficulties that most of you can’t imagine, a woman who knows that I am not secretly rich and who has dreamed of starting a life with her man with nothing so they can build it together. This has also been a dream of mine. She knows that I may not ever want to return to the United States, that I have far more debt than I know how to pay back, and that life with me will be more difficult at times than if she were to marry a man from her own culture.
Her employers and friends are concerned that she has lost her mind. They are warning her that I may be an exploitive foreigner who is only trying to use her body and steal from her. They are as concerned as some of you, perhaps they are more concerned. She is loved by her friends, her family, and her students. And while I have endeavored to not put her on a pedestal, those who know her certainly have.
So I came back to her and upon seeing her, emotions flooded us both. We spent the day talking and working and of course, because this is Morocco, eating with her family. We talked about waiting and we agreed that waiting is sometimes worse than not. For a week I had been writing about my fears, my intentions, my desires, and what it is that I want from life. I want this life with her. I know this. And so, I asked her if she would consider becoming my wife. She cried and she said yes. We talked about the challenges and difficulties (and there are many…believe me) and we both said yes.
This was only the beginning. I wanted to cook dinner for her family that evening so that I could ask her father for permission to marry her. So we shopped, we found her a beautiful ring and I bought ingredients to make pizza. That night, Hanane and I made pizza and thought it was hard to get his attention away from the TV news, I finally managed to ask Selim if I could marry his daughter. He said yes. Not because I am American, not because I am rich, not because of all the negative reasons, though I admit that I am sure these things help, but because I have lived here with this family, they have seen the way we look at one another, the way we talk, and the way we interact. To those who know us or see us, there is no doubt. I hope that in looking at the few pictures I have put up on facebook, that the concerns of my friends and family are also put at ease.
The next day we bought dates and a few essentials and in the evening we hosted a small engagement party for Hanane’s family and neighbors. Not more than fifteen people but an engagement is not an off the cuff thing here. There was ceremony involved where we put the rings on each others hands, fed each other dates, gave each other milk from bowls, and finally where henna was applied to Hanane’s hands and feet and to one of my hands. The whole family danced and sang and took part and we feasted on things that everyone had brought. As you can see from the pictures, Hanane is a Princess and on the day of engagement, a Moroccan woman is a Princess. So maybe this is a fairy tale after all…
And now, we move on with life…there are no guarantees. There are difficulties in each person’s life that no one else can understand…and joys.
As to religion. I am Muslim. And there is no problem at all with the fact that I still find truth in the words of Jesus, the words of Buddha, the words of Krishnamurti, or the teachings of any faith. Why am I Muslim? For one reason only, because I submit myself to the will of God and don’t have any illusions about being in control. Someday, we can discuss the particulars in email or in person and I will be happy to clarify. But publicly here, I make my declaration that I am Muslim.