A POWERFUL TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE ON PATMOS
You know how they say that turning points happen about every ten years of your adult life? Well, I have had quite a few so far. But the turning point that I feel was the most powerful and profound—that I can still remember so vividly—was when I was on the Greek island of Patmos nine years ago.
When your life is super busy and you never stop and reflect…
Back then, my children were still very young—two and seven years old—and I was so preoccupied with being the best mum I could ever be: taking care of my two boys, feeding and washing them, playing with them, organizing play dates, providing them with lots of positive experiences and stimulating opportunities, giving and showing them the immense love that I had for them, and setting up the best life that I could possibly give them with their father.
But I was also constantly stressing over anything and everything. I was overwhelmed with life and responsibilities. My vision was limited to what was going on around me, my family and my community of family and friends. Psychologically, I was boxed into a limiting space that I never thought I could escape from. I was happy, yet miserable; thankful, yet frustrated; alert, yet unaware.
Planning a family trip…
At the time, I had planned a trip to Greece with my family to visit my sister and her family who were living in Athens then. It was not my first trip to Greece. My parents have always been in love with Greece and the Greek islands ever since I was a little child. I don’t know the exact reasons, but I surely understand why. It might have been that we have Greek ancestors, or because of the proximity of Greece to our home city of Beirut, or because it is such a fascinating, gorgeous and magical country! I still remember the two-month holiday we spent there when I was nine. We explored Athens for a month and then stayed on the island of Corfu for another month. It was one of the best holidays of my entire childhood.
Following in the path of my parents…
My parents did their best to take me and my three siblings on memorable travel experiences around the world, and I wanted to give the same to my children. I wanted them to experience traveling from a very young age. My hopes were that they would develop a love for the world and for traveling as I had. I wanted them to see what a beautiful world it is that we live in—and fall in love with the controversies as well as the beauties. Life is beautiful and I wanted them to see it. My wish was to experience it all with them. I wanted to keep falling in love with the world, and I wanted them to fall in love with it, too.
However, I did not foresee that I would experience such a powerful turning point on that particular trip: a point that gave clear definition to my focus in life; an awakening that liberated me from the limiting beliefs that had permeated my mentality and shaped my reality; a moment that allowed me to break through the limits that I had unconsciously acquired; a revelation that allowed me to open my eyes and begin writing a brand new script for my life.
My sister and I had booked a five-day Greek island cruise for both our families. It was on one of the cruise days that the ship stopped by the island of Patmos. We disembarked, walked around the pretty port town of Skala, and tried our best to satiate our children’s curiosity.
Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea…
According to Greek mythology, the sunken island was brought to life after Selene, the moon goddess, convinced Artemis, goddess of the hunt, to bring it to life with the help of her brother Apollo who persuaded Zeus to allow the island to emerge from the water. Divine intervention brought Patmos to life…and little did I know then that this divine island would open up my eyes to what truly matters in life—and change my life forever.
Patmos is the place where Saint John received the prophetic vision of Jesus. He then wrote the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Designated as a “Holy Island”, Patmos attracts pilgrims and bon vivants alike, with its mysticism, history, tranquillity and beauty.
With young kids, our primary stop was always the beach. So, we found a beautiful spot, sat down and let them play in the sea and sand. After splashing around with them, I sat down in the shade to admire my surroundings. We were sitting in a cove and the island extended out from both sides, as if it were split in two.
That powerful moment when your life changes…
I lost my breath as I looked around and saw myself in the middle of it all—not just on the island, but on the entire earth. A minuscule speck of dust on this planet was how I saw myself. All my worries, my plans, my life stresses, etc. seemed so utterly negligible. I was not the centre of the universe as I might have unconsciously presumed. I was merely an illegible dot in the cosmos.
Yet, still, I DID matter. I mattered because I was a living, breathing, feeling soul who could sense this magnificence around me. I was negligible because there were so many problems in the world that were greater than mine, but I mattered because I could see and sense them. In addition, I felt tiny because there’s so much to this world than what was happening to just ME, but I was significant because I was aware of them, intrigued by life, and concerned about humanity.
My vision at that point grew so much stronger and my horizon stretched out for thousands and millions of miles ahead. It was at that life changing point in my life that I decided that I was going to live…not just move along in life, but actually LIVE with ALL my senses. I wanted to make this life the most positive experience for myself and my family. Another thing was that I was not going to worry about was the trivial dilemmas and frivolous activities that make up my society—which is preoccupied with fake appearance and superficial social status. I was going to devote my energy and focus on the values that matter most in my life.
What are the values that matter the most for me?
Love, positivity, compassion, growth, wisdom and happiness—just to name a few. How do these translate into my life? Being a positive and optimistic person; loving and caring for myself and my family; not succumbing to the pressures of society to live in the fanciest of homes, hold the best of parties, or buy expensive clothes. Nor was I going to waste my time discussing issues that do not help me or others grow wiser. Working hard to make my dreams come true was one thing I planned to do.
I wanted to go back home, open my computer and start writing the book that has been there in my head for years. Also, I was going to spend my time in experiences that would help me reflect, grow and become a better person. These include being there for my boys as much as I could, raising them with love and positivity, spending precious times with my husband, and being with special friends and family. It will also include helping the less fortunate in my community, doing charity work, and sponsoring orphans. I also wanted to focus on reading, contemplating, looking within and introspecting, and most importantly, traveling the world every opportunity we get.
No longer was I going to let my time wither away on trivial things that did not matter to me. If doing something was going to make me feel genuinely happy and was going to help me grow from within, then that was what I was going to do. It is up to me to define my path in life.
The soul-stirring line from the Book of Revelation describes my feelings exactly:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”