Times of Oman
Nov 30, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 10:34 AM GMT
When my safety valves failed
June 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Saleh Al Shaibany

Last month, the safety valves of my tolerance could not hold any longer. I usually resort to writing to pour out my troubles but, for the first time in my life, that channel failed me. My aunt, from her hospital bed, begged me to be tolerable, trying to soothe me saying that ungrateful people would always win in a moment of weakness.

In my time of anger and deep resentment I saw myself losing the battle and I thought by thrashing the lights out of my tormentors, that would have satisfied me. Of course, I didn't but it nearly killed me when I was seeking refuge. To say that I walked out of the hospital will be a gross understatement. I stormed out and I wouldn't be surprised if people who passed me at the door thought I was possessed. I drove my car at an uncomfortable speed, overtaking cars blindly and only with the grace of God I managed to reach the sea front, which I was trying to reach with a vengeance.

I silenced my mobile telephone to stop rude intrusions. The waves crushing to the shore had an immediate effect on me. I calmed down as I walked barefooted on the cool sands. All I needed was forty minutes of isolation. When that was out, I bade farewell to the sea gulls and headed back to my car. I calmed the thoughts that disturbed my mental equilibrium an hour earlier, vowing not to let them dominate my day.

But I had to come to terms with my feelings so I tried to seek ways to reconcile with myself. Many years ago, I remembered reading a phrase "what the worse could happen to you?" I asked myself that question and realised, just there and then, how stupid I was for allowing myself to get in a situation that may have cost me quite a lot.

I examined the problem and it was that certain people did not show gratitude for the help I extended. The solution was ridiculously simple.

I should not, for my own peace of my mind, expect anything in return from anyone I lend a hand. I should do it purely because I wanted to do it and no strings attached. I felt better and I spent the rest of the day concentrating on what was important to me. The next day, perhaps from a moment of desperation, a relative called and said he needed to see me right away.  I thought that was selfish because he was asking me to drop everything. But I also thought that not to see him would also be selfish on my part.

It was also my chance to test the integrity of the quiet talk I had with myself the day before on the beach. I said "yes" to him with such vigour that surprised him. I might have given the impression that I was eager to see him and that delighted him. He came over in just fifteen minutes and I would not reveal what he wanted from me.

But all I can say is that I wouldn't seek gratitude even if he decides to abuse the privilege I extended to him. In a funny way, perhaps again to protect my emotions from swinging the negative way, I came to conclusion that I needed people like him in my life. They would keep reminding me of how lucky I am and teach me to continue to be humble to people who are less fortunate than me. I think I have exorcised one big demon that bothered me quite a long time. The demon of ingratitude. He may now haunt somebody else.

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