Monday column: The sunlight in my mind

Opinion Sunday 07/July/2024 19:10 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday column: The sunlight in my mind

On an emotionally charged evening, I walked in the middle of a café street, my mind deep in a chaotic turmoil.

I watched a girl skipping in front of her parents, a boy making faces at a stray cat and an old couple shuffling along holding hands tightly. The world I saw in my troubled mind was completely different from the one I was watching with my eyes.

When a child nearly collided at me while racing with his electric scooter, I was forced to stop. As I did so, there was a jolt in the train of my thoughts. When he disappeared around a bend, a sports car swished past with a thundering clap from its exhaust pipe.

But the speed of my thoughts was running faster than all the machines on the road. I needed to take the load of my body off my feet and chose a seat on a café table. I was under the shade of a tree so the heat of the evening sun was less intense.  

A waiter came over and took my order. I asked him for a cold drink. While he was preparing it, I looked around me. All the tables in that open courtyard were occupied by manual workers. That café was a relief for their weary bodies after a hard day’s work. Unlike them, I was not physically exhausted but my mind was. It was in that moment that I realized that I was giving a strain to the ‘muscles’ of my brain. And I was not getting anything out of it.

At least, I thought, the manual workers were getting paid for their body exhaustion. After a long day’s work, they get together, and over cups of hot drinks, they relax their overworked muscles, and rejuvenated themselves.

Was I learning something new by just watching them? I guess I was. I was not surrounded by the world’s greatest scholars.

Yet, there was a lesson there for me. They were all humble workers and probably all of them never went to school. Unlike great minds who inspire themselves by research works or seminars, these manual workers rally around themselves over a cup of Karak tea.

This way, they join together for support in a difficult time or even a bad situation. I also noticed that they didn’t talk much. They just enjoyed each other’s company. They do that almost every evening with minimum exchanges of words but giving themselves a lot of mental comfort. Then a thought crossed my mind while I was watching them.

They were distracting my thoughts. My mind was not in a chaotic turmoil anymore. Their presence in that old courtyard offered me a sublime refuge for my negative thinking. I was in a mental storm and the guileless labourers taught me something valuable without speaking a word to me. I could have read a thousand pages of a philosophical book or counseled by a world’s leading psychotherapist, and still trapped by negative thoughts.

I felt like getting up and shake the hand of each one of them. Or at least pay for their Karak tea. The thought made me smile. It was as if a dark cloud moved out of the sun in my mind to let the light in. When the real sun in the sky started descending in the western mountains of Muscat, there was still a sunshine in my mind. Thanks to them.