By Houda Harb
I remember hearing someone recently describe the challenges of life in Lebanon as an extremely complex maze, a confusing network of puzzle-like paths and hedges through which one has to navigate to find the way out. It becomes more complex with time and this is responsible for the feeling of hopelessness that resonates with many Lebanese. It’s not hard to understand why people feel this way when the question often at the front of their minds is: How do we gain hope when every time we try, our efforts are met with more complicated paths & hedges to navigate, leaving us feeling more hopeless & helpless than before?
What is the key to the way out of this maze? The key is not to dwell on how complicated the maze is but to learn how the maze works to help you make your way through it. There will be times when you think you know how it works but then every turn leads to a dead end. This becomes increasingly frustrating and you become more hopeless because the maze is beginning to seem impossible to navigate.
At this point, we really have one of two choices in front of us:
- We can wallow in our misery and become upset and give up trying because there seems to be no way to succeed, or
- We can decide that we have missed something, some pattern, or opportunity as far as understanding how the maze works.
It’s important to slow down at these times in our lives, catch our breath and look at people around us who are having better luck navigating the maze than we are, and analyze what they are doing differently. It is also important for us not to get emotionally caught up in the frustration of the journey that we stop learning from our experiences. This is the time that we need to look to other people who have a different perspective than we do and try to understand what we need to do to achieve that different and better outcome.
The NoGarlicNoOnions blog and YouTube channel are a constant reminder for us to stay on the path of positivity and hope. This is the path on which we learn how to navigate the maze.
Success is linked to creating something of value and that is sustainable. We have been introduced to hundreds of people on NGNO’s discoveries who have achieved this success, who have navigated their way through this maze and demonstrated the courage to search for ways to not only continue but to stand out from the crowd through their products and services and their projects and initiatives.
Take this week’s video about Amioun in Lebanon’s north, capital of the Koura District, a discovery of so many fascinating places rich in history and remarkable people doing work that commands praise and respect. Amioun derives its name from the Aramaic language. It means “am Yawan” or “place of the Greeks” and is located on top of an ancient hill dating back to before the second millennium B.C. when the town was called Amia. It is one of 11 Phoenician cities and towns in Lebanon that have been continuously inhabited since those ancient times. On this Amioun visit we meet Dede Saade, owner of Amia Hill, a brand new guesthouse and B&B that has opened in Amioun. Amia Hill B&B is managed in collaboration with Roy Antoun’s Leave No Trace @leavenotracelb – Lebanon internal tourism experts. They have converted the old home of Dede’s family into a special place where guests can enjoy a memorable Amioun experience. This success story is one of countless others we have discovered thanks to NGNO, in which we have seen people turn challenges into opportunities and swim against the tide. They are navigating their way through the maze - a maze somewhat reminiscent of the fascinating 28 man-made caves from the Stone Age we learn about in this same Amioun video - and they are succeeding in the process.
There is so much to be learned from looking at the success others have achieved across Lebanon and how they have done it. There is always something we can do to tackle a problem or at the very least, change how we feel about it. I follow NGNO to hear these stories of people going from hopelessness to hopefulness because they are the people who have successfully navigated their way through this complex maze and if they have been able to do that, then we can too.