THE TRUE MEANING OF CONFLUENCE
It’s 4 am. I am trying to open my eyes because I know that the extensive clapping outside our tent is a sign that we need to leave the camp. It’s so cold that I can’t feel my face. Trying to adjust to the reality but it feels so surrealistic that it really takes me some time.
I am in the middle of the desert, in Sahara, in a tent full of sand. And it’s -6 °C. Is it the craziest thing I have ever done or I am still dreaming? On my right side, Yassine is trying to find his glasses, but it’s so dark inside that the mission looks almost impossible. Myriam helps him with the light of her phone. The desert guide opens the blanket that used as a door of the tent and whispers it’s time to leave the place and go back to the base camp and more or less the civilization.
The day before we watched the sunset on the top of sand dunes under the gentle Berber melody of a flute. The desert guide who had led us during our journey riding camels had decided to give me a Berber name since my face looks almost local. Tifaut – he says – it means sunrise. I like it.
Yesterday the desert looked so burningly hot under the sun. So dry. But now even the sand is wet and sticks to everything. A couple of minutes later I am on the back of a huge camel right after I asked for a small one and the guide assured me I am taking the baby camel. The rest of my team are laughing that apparently, it works the other way around when it comes to camels. Somehow I don’t find this amusing.
It’s 4.30 and we are riding camels. I am trying not to fall since my ride is so huge that every step puts me out of balance. It’s so silent. No one speaks. I assume everyone is trying to bear with the cold. I remember that Michelle is sick and wonder how is she doing. I am turning back which almost causes me to fall, but I am trying to recognize her camel. She is riding as well in silence. I don’t feel my toes anymore because of the cold regardless of the three layers of socks I am wearing.
And then out of nowhere, I spot the most beautiful and fascinating thing I have ever seen – the moon. Growing up in a town and spending my life in very civilized places has never shown me how a full moon glows brighter than the sun but in the middle of the night. A silver light that is blinking with the richest colour that exists. I am stoned by the romance of it.
I am looking back to the sand and seeing our shadows – ten people on an adventure trying not to fall or freeze, trying to enjoy the ride regardless of the fear. A strange smile appears on my face. It’s funny how this moment captures exactly the feeling we had since the beginning together.
Ten young people inspired by the romantic and maybe utopic idea to change the world, to be the light in the darkest night. Unusual and strange. Such as the light of the moon – you can appreciate it only in the most special moments of life. Ten people fighting for an idealistic and beautiful dream, but rationally, with hard work and countless hours in front of computer screens or huge audience. Ten people trying to be the bravest, the strongest for the others.
Looking back, I know we were so afraid, so scared not fail, so focused to succeed. To do the impossible no matter the circumstances or the dozens of people who told us how impossible is what we want. I know I will never listen to the advice of people who have never achieved what I want. A priceless lesson I received thanks to Jaouad who has never stopped reinforcing it in me.
Ten people with ten nationalities, from five continents. Ten people with a thousand stories. We started with the simple idea that we can make a positive change in the world. Isn’t it the dream of every human being? I have asked myself this question so many times that I can not even recall when I started. It seems like the world is divided into two groups of people (especially when you work in an organization that is fighting for peace) – those who want to improve their lives and those who want to improve the life of all of us. So then what does make the difference? Why one is so focused on his own and one is fighting for others?
This is my biggest lesson so far. The simple difference is in the true meaning of unity. I was part of a team, a true one. It was far away from being perfect. We had conflicts, small or big fights, likes or dislikes. We were people from different cultures. Sometimes it was so hard to understand the person next to you or even to grasp what does he/she says. But the team was and it is above all. Simple because we realized in the very beginning of our experience that only together we can achieve.
This was and is my team. A team that showed me how satisfying it could be to put my ego and selfish needs of recognition aside. My work, my failure and my success were ours. Ours was mine.
Even the name we have given to ourselves represents this idea – Confluence. Rivers merge, but this merge makes them stronger and they last longer. This how they can shape the coast and not the other way around. This is how they can change – only when are transformed into a whole.
My dearest Confluencers, I will be missing you like the desert misses the rain. But I know that we are already part of each other. The time and distance can not change this, even when we are conquering our goals in five different continents.
To Jaouad – my leader, Sarah – my strength and love, Yassine – my sun, Marcos – my teacher and lesson at the same time, Joey – my peace and support, Myriam – my sweetest challenge the most understanding person I know, Gabi – my summer storm, Michelle – my aqua moon and spring roll full of joy and Vish – my connection with myself.
Nothing compares to the moment when the earliest sunbeams find their way to light up what is inside.
In case you want to share your thoughts with me over this note or you need support to bring constructive change – simply connect with me.