Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mona goes to IKEA

Would the Mona Lisa still be the Mona Lisa if the curators at the Louvre decided to save a buck or two and put her in an IKEA special? Of course she would…but only to those astute enough to appreciate and identify that it is still Mona batting her eyelashes through the somewhat distorted plastic “GULD ALNARP” (only $7.99 CAD) overlay. However, I think few would disagree with me if I were to say that for the most part, Mona would lose much of her mystique if bordered by cheap pine…

That is not to say that there aren’t other frames in which our Lady would look equally as alluring. Each frame brings attention to a different feature within the portrait which may not have been noticed before. None of the frames are necessarily better or worse…just simply “different”. Of course, according to human nature, it is inevitable that one will prefer some frames over others as different frames accentuate the features which strike each individual personally…however, despite having chosen a favourite, are you still able to see the beauty in the way the other frames feature Mona? Can you impartially appreciate how someone else may find a completely different border beautiful even if you don’t?

Ok ok… those of you who know me are aware of my ongoing obsession with analogies and metaphors, so I will get to the point…

When I first started nursing in Riyadh, and up until very recently, I was continually coming home frustrated and dissatisfied with my days at work. I felt that my practice was being hugely compromised by the limits being set by the system within which I was working, and consequently, the care I was delivering was immeasurably inferior to that which I had been giving at home. This is no wonder, as I have recently realized that I had been looking at the picture of my current situation framed with a border meant to accentuate the things important to the Canadian eye. Viewed through what I now understand was an extremely ethnocentric lens, the picture I was looking at was grey and vexatious. Over the last couple of weeks, I have started to experiment with different frames, which are starting to bring out the complex beauty in that exact same picture which I had not very long ago found so austere. As I learn more and more about culture and tradition, I can now see that, what is best for patients in Canada, is not necessarily best for patients in Saudi, (though there is a moderate amount of cross-over that has proven beneficial).

Though my Canadian frame still feels more comfortable I can see now that it is just not right for this picture. Thus, I have put it up in storage, for use again 8 months down the road (but who’s counting?). The longer my Saudi frame nestles comfortably around the borders of that same picture, I am enthralled with the newly uncovered intricate details to which I had been so blind before…

In conclusion to my lengthy metaphorical musings, I will say that I think that developing a keen eye for re-framing situations over which we have no control could prove extremely beneficial…try on a few different ones, do your best to examine each in an impartial manner, and you may be surprised at how your outlook on a situation can be transformed.

I will leave you with a story that many of you will find amusing…I want to be extremely transparent about the fact that there is another side of the coin to the rather heartwarming story of the Baba in “This One” (see Oct 17th entry).

I have learned the hard lesson of how to tell the difference between a hard headed traditional Saudi man whose respect needs to be slowly gained over time, and a Saudi man who is just generally not a very nice person (and believe me, I have encountered both in recent weeks). Once again, those of you who know me are aware that being extremely passionate about the addictions and concurrent disorders population I work with at home, I have a fairly high tolerance for letting things “roll off” of me. That threshold was recently crossed. Unfortunately for both myself AND the patient, it was on an extremely busy day where my nerves were slowly fraying, on day 6 out of 9 (with two single days off), and when I was just getting over an illness. I was more reactive than I would normally have been, and al I have to say is that he was not simply a "traditional Saudi man whose respect could be gained over time"…without going into too much detail in order to maintain patient confidentiality, there is now one patient who has banned me from taking care of him, and I think that is better off for both of us... Two steps forward, one step back…

For those of you who are interested in reading further, I have recently met an extremely dynamic and inspirational woman who writes a wonderfully transparent and commendably impartial blog about her experiences as an former American diplomat, now married to a Saudi and living in the Kingdom. I would encourage you all to check out her blog at (Mrs A. Bedu, I hope you don’t mind me posting the link!). She is also notably more vigilant than me in terms of regular updates to the site...!

I am off to Italy in 4 days, so inshallah (with God’s willing), my next entry will be typed one handed as my other hand will be occupied by a large wine glass filled with a good Chianti….



Anonymous said...


Thank you very much for the beautiful mention!

And let me tell you...ALL of your patients (even those most challenging ones) are so fortunate to benefit from your professional care and compassion.

Have a wonderful time in Italy and I'm sure all of us following your blog will look forward to hearing of your experiences. Sante!

Best Regards,
Carol (aka American Bedu)

fimac said...

Thanks Carol! Inshallah my next blog will be dissecting the intricacies of the Italian grape...

Meanwhile, I will be introducing my mum to American Bedu over morning espresso!