I do not believe that people are being born with or a lack of discipline. I believe discipline to be a state of mind that can be acquired. Although I am not sure if I am lazy by nature and taught myself to be fairly disciplined, since it seems that that is what brings you forward in life, or that I am very disciplined and have learnt to be lazy now and again, because laziness too is a state of mind.
After being disciplined and feeling rather stressed for the first weeks of the course I relaxed a bit and ‘treated’ myself to a lazy, leisurely weekend, which in our case consists of three days. I have always found it difficult to find a balance between work and play. I have the conviction that work should be play in the sense that one should enjoy ones work (or study or whatever). But I can’t help being fed up now and again with work, study ,or -even- too much play. On Friday I did absolutely nothing besides watching downloads, doing the laundry, eating and breathing. Saturday was Farah’s birthday. Farah is a half Egyptian half Scandinavian student from SOAS (School for African and Oriental Studies in London), who I know from the course, and we started her birthday celebrations with a luxurious breakfast at the six star Four Seasons Hotel in San Stefano. After that we were being driven an hour outside Alex to go to a private beach. The Northern coast all the way to Marsah Martrouh is filled with resorts, where Cairenes spend their summer. The private beach was a resort in the village of Sahl, where Farah’s aunt has got a summer house and her house is right at the beach. Because it is out of season we were the only ones at the beach with the exception of some fishermen in the far distance and the sea was of a Pacific-Ocean- blue colour. In the evening after dinner we went back to the Four Seasons’ to have drinks at their impressive beach club. Living the high life in Egypt is not as expensive as it is in London. The Sunday was meant for study and work but I didn’t do an awful lot of that. I went to the Library (Bibliotheca Alexandria) to see a film by Youssef Shaheen who used to be one of the greatest filmmakers of the Middle East. The film was in Egyptian Arabic with Farsi subtitles (It is the same script as Arabic but a very different language so they were of very little use). I heard from several people that they became proficient in Egyptian (Arabic) by watching an awful lot of Egyptians soaps and films so I might have started a beautiful and very useful habit.
In Lowlands Language we’ve got a saying; ‘The bow cannot always be tightened ‘. It means that efforts should be alternated with relaxation. I have found out by own experience and observations that the more one has to do the more efficient one becomes with ones time and completing ones tasks. The people who get the least done seem to be the people who have very little to do; they don’t work, study or have a daily occupation in any shape or form. Don’t people who are on top of their game make sacrifices? They don’t/ didn’t have a childhood, cannot socialize as much, do not have (as much )time for hobbies and interest. I wonder if they mind. A fellow student on the course started learning Arabic a year ago as an absolute beginner. He had classes for five, six hours a day five days a week and after class he did around five hours of homework. It has paid off; He is very proficient in Arabic although he admitted that he didn’t have much of a (social) life last year. I am very impressed with his accomplishment and I wonder if I could do it. I think I could do it but the question is if I could do it and be happy. Is the art of discipline working hard, staying focussed, making sacrifices and maybe feel miserable about it now and again but knowing that any future benefits will outweigh these sacrifices? Or just do your thing and do not think in terms of sacrifices? Some people seem to be able to do everything. Maybe they are super fairies and don’t sleep. I would love to be enlightened on their secrets. Maybe there is no secret. Maybe I and everybody else should Just Do Their Thing.