Day 79: Giving Thanks

One of the most important words I learned last month was the Arabic word “Shukran.”  It means “Thank you.” 

It was probably the most important word I learned beyond Inshallah (God willing…used every time you speak about the future) and Alhamdulillah (Thanks to God).  It’s funny that those three words were the most important words to know.  I still have no idea how to say “YES” in Arabic and I didn’t learn how to say “NO” until the end of my trip.  I do know the word for beautiful: Lailah (pronounced ‘La-la’).  In some cultures it also means “Princess.”

As the last days of the year start to wind down, I can’t help but think of the things that I am thankful for…you see, Morocco changed everything.  I think Winter Adams once described a situation to me as a ‘Deal Breaker’ before.  What’s happened since Morocco has been my Deal Breaker in life.  It changed everything. 

Since being back, I’ve sat down with all of my loved ones and told them, “I’m moving to Morocco in a year.”  While a lot of my friends and family have been shocked at first at the news, the only thing they can say is that they are happy for me.  It seems as if I’ve found what I’ve been looking for in this lifetime. 

My friend, M, said to me when I told her my decision, “I guess we’re going to have to spend the next year being tourists in NYC, doing anything and everything a tourist would do in this city.”  I was surprised that was her response.  I expected her to tell me I was crazy and talk me out of it.  But there was something in the way I relayed my case to her that she realized that this really was our last year together in New York City. 

Even as the rain falls over New York City and the temperatures drop, you’ll find me stopping at the sight of the rain and breathing it in…as if it were the last time.  It’s called living in that moment. 

I’ve started to say goodbye already to America. 

When I made my announcement back in July that this would be my final season, little did I know why it would be.  I just followed my heart and my intuition and let whatever the reasons why I was saying goodbye just slowly materialize.  Since Morocco, I haven’t quite been back in New York.  Everywhere I go, I feel like I’m still there, but then I’m sad when I realize I’m thousands of miles away. 

I look at America and the people around me.  I can’t help but feel like I’ve evolved from toleration.  What does that mean?  It means that I can now see America through different eyes, and I don’t like what I see.  I see people so concerned with their shells…and how evil they are to each other.  I feel sorrow for everyone around me.  I just want to shake everyone and tell them, “You don’t have to live this way…life could be so much better if you changed the way you think and the way you treat people!” 

I haven’t taken the rings off of my wedding finger since I’ve returned because I’ve already made a commitment to marry someone.  I keep thinking…maybe I’m crazy, but I’m doing what my heart and soul is telling me to do. 

I keep seeing the America world that I currently live in closing its doors all around me.  Why?  Because the way I think has changed.  I can no longer think or see as an American and be proud to be one.

I hear the most blasphemous and evil things coming from the mouths and minds of people that say they are followers of God.  They try to say their religion is the superior one…but all I hear is HATE based on lies.  It breaks my heart to hear it.

You look all around you…the shell of a person is glorified and hated all at once.  The shell is not who they are inside…it’s not their soul.  Their shell is what they think hides their soul.  For me, I have always looked at another person’s soul.  It is very difficult for me to see their shell.

My first boyfriend (as an adult) was an African American man.  He is one of those reversed racists (i.e. he talks crap about white people all of the time).  He once said to me at the beginning that he had to ask himself if I really did not see skin color…did I not really see what a person looked like on the outside.  He realized that I didn’t, not realizing that I only saw people for who they are inside. 

There are times that I befriend people that need saving.  People think I’m just like that person, but I never am.  I am just curious about them and why they can’t see beyond their own haze.  I know that they will betray me, because I sense it right from the very beginning.  But I still have that hope that maybe something I said to them will make sense…and that’s all that matters to me.

I learned in Morocco that it was okay to be who I really am.  I could stop worrying so much about my shell.  The shell is that job you have, your hair color, skin color, ethnicity, religion, your weight, your upbringing, your family…all of those things that people say make you…YOU, but really it doesn’t.  When you meet God, none of those things matter.  All that matters is who you are in your soul and what you’ve done in this lifetime.

Imagine a world where everyone judges you based on your soul and your actions in this lifetime.  It’s a world where everyone is constantly thinking of doing good for everyone around them, without thinking about themselves first.  People are kind to everyone.  People take care of each other like brothers and sisters.  People love everyone so much…you can feel it in everything you see, hear, smell and touch.  The winds carry that love all around. 

When men compliment women and tell them that they are beautiful, they are being honest, and not attaching sex as the reason why they are saying it.  Men take care of the women there, including making sure that they feel beautiful inside.

Sounds like a crazy pipe dream?  Well, I found that crazy pipe dream in Africa.  I found my dream come true in Morocco. 

I look at magazines and hear women complain about how fat they are, how they have to look like this or like that.  I read about how immorality has become the norm…and I read about how much we hate ourselves and we must constantly try to perfect our shells.

That song by U2, “Running to Stand Still” described me.  Imagine being able to finally stand still after running your entire life…running to something and having no idea where you were running to.  Imagine being able to stand still in the desert, looking up at the stars, realizing that what was hurting you had finally healed, and that you were standing before God and he was telling you that you had found what you were looking for.  You turn to your right and look at the person next to you and realize that you had found love.  Not just any love, but that kind of love where your souls intertwine with each other and inevitably becomes one soul.  That was the magic I felt in the Sahara Desert.  My soul didn’t just intertwine with a nomad’s soul, it became part of the great soul of Morocco…and it calls to me.

I wanted to live in a world that was like my soul…at complete peace and connected with the soul of God.  I didn’t find that in America.  I found it in a Muslim country. 

I wanted people to see my soul, not my shell.  Do you know how nice it is to not be judged based on my job?  People there don’t care what I do…just as long as what I do is good for everyone.

Do you know how nice it is to have suitor after suitor line up and ask my guide if he could date me?  I wasn’t used to all of the attention, but my guide explained to me that not too many women in their country are as beautiful as I am.  They look at me and they see how beautiful my soul is…and then they see what I look like on the outside.  They see my happiness…and that, to them, is more beautiful than anything.

All of my insecurities I have about myself…they mean nothing in Morocco.  Why?  Because men in Morocco tell women how beautiful they are…to the point that you actually feel beautiful inside (ergo, no need for insecurities). 

Why can’t first world countries be like that? 

I was able to be myself in Morocco.  As in, all of those weird things about my soul that I keep hidden in America…I can let it out.  In America, people say I’m crazy when I talk about it.  In Morocco, they see it differently.  The see it as a sign from God.  I’m deemed as ‘special.’  I see the world very differently. 

People have told me for years that the only reason why I react to Ground Zero in Manhattan the way that I do…it’s post-traumatic stress disorder left over from 9/11.  That’s America’s explanation. 

In Morocco, I got physically ill in the exact spot where a terrorist act occurred in Marrakech.  I was ready to vomit, faint…I was just so physically ill that the guide took one look at me and had to get me out of the souks.  He waited until I felt better before he asked me what happened in there.  When I told him that I just felt bad and that my mind kept screaming, “GET OUT OF THE SOUKS,” he looked at me and told me that he had turned to me to tell me that we were in the exact spot where a terrorist bombed Marrakech back in April, but he saw that I had turned pale and that I was ill, so he tried to get me out of there.

When he told Driss about it, Driss told him in Arabic what happened when I was in a kasbah.  I came out and asked him if anyone had died in there.  He said he didn’t know, but he would find out.  I told him exactly who died in the kasbah. 

Later that night, he asked around and they confirmed what I had told him.  He said he didn’t want to tell me that I was right, because it was so strange to him that I knew.  He then told him about the conversation we had about demons and what the Imams had said about them.  He was shocked to learn that I knew of an ancient civilization in Iraq that worshipped Shaitan.  He was shocked I even knew the word.  It’s not a word used very often in the Arabic language because of the evil it represents.

He told all of these things to my guide in Arabic…and I said, “Are you telling him about what happened at the kasbah and the demon conversation?”  He turned to me and said, “Yes, but how do you know?  I told him in Arabic.”  I just smiled and said, “I picked up the language very quickly.” 

But Driss knew I meant something else.  He also knows that I have the ability to put certain thoughts into other people’s minds.  It took him about a week to discover that I can do that. 

The true test to see if letting my soul be free was okay…I asked if they thought I was crazy.  Driss stopped the car and they both turned to me and said, “NO! You’re not crazy!”  The guide had said he had heard of people like me before, but they had just never met anyone like me before.

They continued talking about how I had never read the Qur’an but was able to quote scripture and stories to them in order to better understand how they should approach a situation.  I was able to appease situations.  I could tell them when I felt a snake was near me.  The way I described it to my guide, he just said, “Then don’t look to your right.”  There was a cobra within a few yards of me when he said that.

Oprah Magazine recently devoted an entire magazine to explain all of this…it’s called understanding your intuition.  As in, I’m very connected to my intuition and I let it rule my every being.  It determines why I make the decisions that I make in life.  I can’t explain why I make those decisions, but I have faith that in time, I will know why I made that decision.  Some pieces have to fall into place first before I can see it clearly. 

In Morocco, they realized that I can sense evil very quickly.  In America, I have to put invisible tape over my mouth before I tell some guy off for thinking what he’s thinking…or smelling the stench of an innocent child taken advantage of by a man that just stepped onto the train. 

In Morocco, there were two men talking about how sensitive I am to evil acts.  They spoke about it in Arabic.  I explained in English…if you know God’s plan, when something evil happens, it’s like a rip in time…I can sense it. 

I could see the guide thinking hard about what I said.  Evil is not part of God’s plan.  That’s why I can’t go to Ground Zero.  There are echoes there.  I feel the echoes.  It’s like when a murder has occurred, I can tell you something very evil had happened in that spot. 

There are times that I will walk into a situation like that and all of a sudden change direction or hurry out of the way because I sense things that cannot be seen.  In NYC, an invisible wall goes up within two blocks of WTC area.  I physically can’t move forward.  My friends have tried to trick me into going to the WTC site for years.  They won’t even tell me where we are.  We get within two blocks and it’s like an invisible wall comes up and I can’t move forward.  I start to get sick.  I feel like I’m going to vomit. 

It happened every single time.  For it to be PTSD, how was I able to feel the same symptoms in Marrakech…when I didn’t even know that a terrorist bombing had taken place months before?  It’s not PTSD.

So after reading all of that, I’m sure most of my First World readers will think I’m crazy.  In Morocco, I’m not.  The way they look at it…I’m on a higher spiritual plane than they are and I understand things at a much deeper level than what is taught to them by the Imams. 

It’s like…if they could test me to see if what I’m saying is true…I passed with flying colors.

To be in a world where it’s okay to be the person that I really am and embrace my soul 100% and have ZERO concern for that shell…that is paradise to me.  I found what I have always been looking for.

When I labeled this “Giving Thanks” it really does mean giving thanks to God that he changed my entire world and gave me a new home where I can be free to be who I really am.  It means showing the world…there’s a chance that we can change…we can have a better world if we all wanted it to change.

People talk of World Peace as a wish…it is possible, just so long as we change the way we think and the way we believe.  Imagine a world where everyone is always concerned about doing good for each other each and every waking moment…because your actions are being watched by God at all times, therefore, you should always be doing good.

When you see a poor person, a sick person or an elderly person, you help them.  When you see someone get out of line, you stop them and remind them why they should do good.  You help out everyone around you…you do good at all times, knowing that everyone else around you has adopted the same philosophy.  It is their way of life. 

Imagine a world that good…that’s what I found amongst a country of Muslim Arabs.  In the Christian America, I’ve only found hate.  I started to believe that all humanity was that evil, but then I went to Morocco and witnessed firsthand that not all humanity was evil.  There was good in the world.  I’m thankful I found that.

If you made it this far in this long post, I want to thank you for hearing me out.  Sometimes what you find in the most remote part of the world can be the Deal Changer in life.  You can’t help but think that there is hope for the world and for everyone in it.  When they say that YOU must be the change in the world that YOU seek…it is true. YOU must change in order to change the world.  As I’ve always said, the only way you can truly help someone is by letting them see God shine through you.  That is change.

No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, Americans, remember that in order to truly give thanks, don’t just say it…DO IT!  If you are truly thankful, pass the goodness of what you’re thankful on to others.  If you’re thankful for a good meal, give a good meal to someone who doesn’t have one.  If you’re thankful for your family, open your hearts to being like a family to others who have no one to go home to.  If you’re thankful for your success, share your wisdom with others learning how to become better.  If you’re thankful for your health, help those who are in hospitals with sicknesses and injuries.

The only proper way to give thanks in this world is to share it with others.  That is how you show God and the world that you are truly thankful for the life that you have been given.  Spread the love…

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth has been a member of the NHL credentialed media covering the New Jersey Devils since 2008 for Inside Hockey. She is the owner or PerfectionistWannabe.com.