I’m not always the most upbeat person when it comes to Morocco or Moroccans despite the fact that my wife is Moroccan, my daughter is half Moroccan and we live in Morocco. Actually, all of that might actually be the problem. The huge amounts of paperwork we had to go through to get our marriage completed (almost two years ago now…wow!), the bureaucracy and red tape that went along with that, the trials of working and living in Morocco – not to mention, the hellish period of our engagement when it felt like every Moroccan man wanted to molest my wife and kill me for us being a mixed couple – all of that kind of built up some serious negativity about what is really an incredibly beautiful country filled with kind, friendly people (for the most part).
Maybe a part of it is having been away from Morocco for a month and now being back for just a few weeks before returning to Istanbul with my family – but to tell the truth – I’m having a lot of fun in Morocco and enjoying my time with Moroccans too. Actually, the leaving factor is probably a part (though we are keeping our apartment and just going away for 3 months) but another factor is that I’m going through some serious changes that just need to be made since I want to thrive and survive in this life. The changes are mental, physical, and to a certain extent emotional too.
Being a father certainly has something to do with it. Suddenly, my selfish perspective on life needs to go away – my daughter and my wife need to come first. Ego – be tamed! That realization has led me to some big changes – I gave up smoking without a problem after twenty-five years of enjoying my habit. It was simply a matter of not wanting my daughter to see me smoking, not wanting to give her that visual approval of what is, after all, a stinky bad habit. Of course, giving it up was also a matter of realizing, I don’t want to be sick or dead as she grows up because I want to be able to be there for her and to help her become everything she is capable of and wants to become (whatever that may be.) I had thought going to Turkey, the land where everyone smokes everywhere would make that decision difficult, but in fact – it was no problem. Not even a temptation.
While in Turkey, since my family was here in Morocco, I had some time to really look at my life. I’ve been bringing my daily exercise routine back from the days before I was married. Man, it feels good to use my body and do yoga, stretches and resistance training first thing in the morning. Finding opportunities to walk instead of take a car, bike instead of taxi, or just do something physical in the course of my day makes me feel wonderful.
The mental changes are important as well. I’ve realized that there really are two kinds of people in the world. Those who ‘do’ and those who ‘feel’. The doers do and the feelers do if they feel like it. I’ve spent far too much time in my life being a feeler and letting things slide past. It’s been fun for what it is worth, but there is a reason I’m a 40 year old man without a plan for retirement, an owned home, or any of the many other things I would like to have but don’t. I’ve been living like a spoiled kid. I’ve been doing whatever I want whenever I want without looking at what I want and how to get there! It’s like I’ve been cooking without a recipe or an ingredient list (which by the way, I do enjoy doing – but this is my life I’m messing with) – so, I’ve started making some concrete goals, figuring out some solid principles to live by, and working towards the future I want for myself and my family. And that’s when I made what may be the biggest discovery of my life…
I was working with an office full of people in Istanbul. Friends – and yet, one day, I bought a bag of gummy candy and had a serious craving I couldn’t deny – like a drug craving (for the candy) – I bought the candy, went back to the office and kept the candy in my pocket – not because I was denying my craving but because I didn’t want to have to share my stash! I was acting like a freaking junkie over a bag of gummy worms!
I noticed the behavior and started thinking about it – it seriously disturbed me. What the hell was going on? With some serious research on the web, a lot of self analytic behavior, and some logical thought. I realized that it was the sugar I was a junkie for – not the gummy worms. I bought the excellent book Sugar Shock! and much to my surprise found that not only was the addiction to sugar causing me to act like a gummy worm junkie, but it was also causing me to freak out, get sick and get fat. Our bodies aren’t designed to process refined sugar, it literally puts our bodies into a state of shock and causes us to release adrenaline, testosterone, insulin and a gamut of other things that aren’t meant to be flooded into our blood stream and brains on a massive scale. Sugar is everywhere (in your latte, in your ketchup, in your bread, in your desserts, in alcohol, in soda, in tonic water, in crackers, in mayonaise – everywhere!) and the fact of the matter is, for people like me – it’s a poison. Eating sugar actually causes blood sugar to decrease creating the urge to eat more sugar (gummy worm hoarder) causing tiredness, moods and even intermittant explosive disorder – hello road rage, school shootings, spousal abuse – and guess what – because alcohol is an easy source of sugar – hello symptoms that look remarkably like alcoholism but are really sugar induced! No wonder AA meetings are all about the desserts and sugary coffee! Those people are setting themselves on a path for destruction when there is no cake handy! Anyway, I’ll write more about this another time, but I’ve been paying attention and cutting the sugars and easy carbs from my diet and the results are nothing short of miraculous. I feel like now, I’m on the road to becoming the man I was meant to be – all this time something felt wrong and the answer was everywhere I looked – sugar.
As a result of all of this – health, goal setting, fatherhood, releasing myself from sugar addiction – it’s no surprise that I’m having fun in Morocco with Moroccans. Today was a great example – I woke up early, got my writing work complete, went to Fes to meet with a client, got in a fist fight at the taxi stand, did the work with a client, joked around with all the guys in the medina as they tried to sell me things I don’t want, visited friends, came home, played with the baby, kissed my wife and now am writing this. It was a perfect day.
Yeah, you read it right – a fist fight, okay, just some shoving really – but in fact, that was part of my day and when it comes to it, I enjoyed it. I got out of the taxi and a guy reeking of beer stepped in my way and tried to stop me for some reason – he was one of those Moroccans that give all Moroccans a bad name – I tried to step around him and he stepped in front of me again – so I shoved him pretty hard. He began yelling, I grabbed him and I began yelling, then I decided that was enough and stepped away – three steps later he said “I’m going to shoot you!” and (maybe there’s still some sugar in my diet somewhere) I lost it and ran back and grabbed him but before I hit him (I really wanted to) some logical part of my mind that I swear has been missing all these years – stopped me and instead I grabbed his arm like he’d just won a boxing match and raised his hand in the air and started shouting “Police, police – he said he’s going to shoot me. Police, someone call the police, this guy said he wants to shoot me because I’m American.” The guy had no idea what was happening – but five very big guys got up from the cafe next to us and walked over – I thought – “Oh shit, I’m going to get my ass handed to me now” – one guy pulled his hand back and slapped the guy whose hand I was holding in the air while the other four all started apologizing to me for his behavior, asking me where I lived, why I spoke Arabic and how I like Morocco. Nice guys. Good guys. Good Moroccans – and that moment of not hitting him, of having the clarity of thought to restrain myself – it’s something I wouldn’t have had a few months ago. So yes, that fist fight (you can’t really say shove fight and have it sound good) was a part of my great day and actually those five guys set the tone for my day and helped me to have fun with everyone else who approached me, tried to sell me something, or bonjour monsiuered me in the Fez Medina.
What am I doing here? Loving life and finding out that the path of my success was never far away from me – in fact, I’ve been on it all along but now, I can see the road since the sun has finally risen.