A few weeks ago I returned from traveling through Morocco.
Itinerary: Marrakech – Fes – Chefchaouen.
From the moment I set foot in Marrakech – the experience was full on.
People started talking to me, offering to help me, wanting to sell me something, wanting to hear about USA.
This was my first adventure in a Muslim country. And I faced a prejudice in myself that I did not know I had.
Many of the men looked like Osama Bin Laden. They wore long white robes and had beards. Many of them yelled at one another with a feverish passion.
I’m not proud to admit this – but my first day in Marrakech I couldn’t see the people of Morocco for who they are. I saw them as scary angry people that could do something evil to me.
For over a decade I’d been bombarded with images of Muslim people as portrayed by the news media.
Typically Muslim people were screaming and the news story was about terrorism.
And, yes, to be politically correct the story would conclude with something like “All Muslims are not bad people.”
Nonetheless the repetition of those images ingrained in me fear and prejudice towards a people that I previously had no contact with.
As I began to interact in Morocco, however, time and time again I discovered people with a tremendous sense of humor and big hearts. And I never felt unsafe.
In one of my most cherished afternoons I sat with a man, Mustafa, in his rug shop for a few hours as we drank mint tea, told stories, and negotiated a rug deal. Negotiation in Morocco is like a national sport – I’m a pretty good negotiator – so this man appreciated me.
We laughed, played, and goofed around as his nephew showed me rug after rug.
At one point Mustafa started yelling at his nephew. I felt safe enough to say to him, “Hey, why ya yelling at him? He’s doing a great job and working hard.”
Mustafa stopped, looked at me and started laughing. “That is how we speak. We speak loud and fast. It’s just the language.”
We concluded our afternoon with hugs and mutual praise for one another – as we both were proud that we had made the other one have so many laughs. I gave Mustafa my phone number and told him if he ever comes to New York, we’ll hang out.
Later in the trip, in Fes, I had an amazing dinner cooked and shared with a beautiful Iraqi family. The man, who did the majority of the cooking said that if we can all sit at this table together and share a meal cooked with love – then there is hope for mankind.
How does all this relate to Committed Impulse and the skill of being present?
I saw how blind I became to what was really in front of me because of ideas in my head. I now see how I do this in relationships and in business – and how it doesn’t serve me.
As we increase our ability to be present we naturally increase our ability to see what is really in front of us. And once we are present – we’re able to be in the dance of life that surrounds us.
Needless to say this is key for creation.
But, it is also the key to peace on our planet. If we can really see each other for who we really are, it becomes very difficult to respond on auto-pilot.
And, it looks to me that so many of the wars that are happening are based on stories we carry about one another – and some of these stories are thousands of years old.
Why don’t we go through this day breathing deep, feeling our truth, and seeing what is around us as it actually is – not how we may have made it up to be.
Lisa Robbin Young says
“As we increase our ability to be present we naturally increase our ability to see what is really in front of us.”
This is such a great insight, Josh. Often times, we’re so up in our heads that we can’t see the world around us. We THINK we’re being present – but we’re really just being present to the noise in our head – not to the reality staring us in the face.
In my own life – particularly at auditions – it’s easy to be present to my thoughts, but not to my surroundings. Thoughts are often louder. We have to remind ourselves of the small voice that’s outside ourselves that wants to be seen and heard as well.
That’s such a great point – “We THINK we’re being present.”
Thanks for your insights!
Thank you for sharing…what a wonderful story to start my day with!
Thank you so much for this honest story and reminding me of the importance of being present! “Thousands of years old” – Its really time to give that up. I`ll beginn right now.
What an awesome story…and as a side note I will now try DEEPLY to see you Josh as more than just a tortoise ninja. 🙂
Matt Shapiro says
I love this Josh. Awesome to hear about how your own prejudices and cultural stereotypes fell away once you could truly see the person in front of you and connect in a real way. “This is how we speak” got me. So did “if we can share a meal cooked with love…” Pretty humbling in the best way. Curious to know what happened with the rug and if you’d care to share any negotiation tactics…
Mary Beth Eversole says
Thank you for this Josh
Beth Barany says
Josh, I love this: ” If we can really see each other for who we really are, it becomes very difficult to respond on auto-pilot.” Brought tears to my eyes. In fact your whole story did. I wonder how much of my day I spend seeing the story and not the person. I’ll keep that in mind!
Yes – it’s an ongoing practice for me as well.
Kelli Shane says
I love this. Thank you for sharing.
Perri Yaniv says
this reminds me of my time in Israel with my family (my father’s side is Moroccan) and what a huge cultural difference there is between classes and cultures, and how these differences arose from the differences in the perceptions of life and mortality. My favorite phrase you wrote is “once we are present – we’re able to be in the dance of life that surrounds us,” and I know that I left your class dancing all the way down the street every week. thanks for bringing these thoughts to light. welcome home!
Keep on dancin’!
Thank you Josh!
oh, thank you, josh, for your beautiful text! life is so rich and full of wonderful surprises, if we let it! i feel the same as your cooking friend and you about peace.
Randall Brammer says
This is inspiring stuff Josh. It feels like the universe giving me another nudge into my own unknown.
Yea – the unknown is a magical place that we are so conditioned to avoid because it often is looked at as being unprepared or not knowledgable. However, having the bravery to hang out in the unknown opens the creative doors.
Thank you so much for the beautiful post. My heart is filled with love just reading it:)
Have a wonderful day.
You too Sujatha
Thanks for your emails.
Was reading your holiday updates via Marie’s page.
Did you know there are a lot of Muslims in the States too? Lol.
I’m glad you experienced something positive – maybe you could use that to help build bridges since you’re an A lister and we all love A listers and people listen to A listers 🙂
Oh and Muslims, Jews and Christians all share the same Abrahamic religion.
We humans all have a lot in common – we gotta experience it for ourselves and not through media as it’ll distort your beliefs.
Have an awesome day and say hi to Marie and Kumar 🙂
This is so friggin brilliant. Thank you, Josh! Being present is a gift. 🙂