Motivation Series

I Lived in the Garden of Allah

Ronald Victor Courtenay Bodley is a prominant figure of 1900s. He was the founder of Bodleian Library and author of one of the most significant books of the century, “The Messenger”. He was a philosopher, journalist and an Army officer with varied experiences in life. Let’s have a look at his early life.

He was born in 1892 in Paris from an English couple. After 9 years he moved to United States, studied in Eaton College and Royal Military College of Sandhurst. He faught at the end of first World War. He thought that now the world would find peace; however, his premonition came true when he participated in the Paris Peace Conference. He could understand that it is the setting of another World War.

Inside he was devastated with countless unslept nights, impatience, sick of war, sick of society. He then considered civilian jobs, however, at that time there was fierce financial depression with millions of unemployed workers.

Then, the wind of change came into his life when he met “Lawrence of Arabia” i.e. Ted Lawrence, a very colorful character at that time. Mr. Lawrence advised him to go into north-west Africa and live with Arabs. It was a discussion of only two minutes. He took the advice and immediately made arrangements of going to Arab in 1918.

Mr. Bodley never regretted that decision. He learned Arabic language, clothed like them, learned basics of shepherd lives, stayed in tents and even owned a lamb. The most strking thing that attracted him is Arabs are “Fatalists”-everything is pre-written by Allah and you cannot change them. In other words, in Arabic called “Mektoub”. What changed him inside and extinguished his inner conflict? Following are two instances of such cause:

  1. Sirocco

In one fine day, Sirocco which is extreme hot wind wih strong force of wind, swept through the Arab Valley to Rhone Valley of France. The author felt like he was standing near the furnace of glass factory, eyes burning, head being burned, throat dried-out. Finally, the Sirocco was over causing devastation across the Arab valley. The feedback from Arab was “Mektoub-it was written“. The Arabs did not just sit around; immediately slaughtered the lambs as they knew that those would die, saved the mother sheep and the flocks were driven to water. The actions were done with no complaints. The chief of the Tribe said, ” We have at least 40% lambs to restart. It could have been worse.”

2. Motoring Across the Desert

In another occasion, the author went with the Arabs in a desert. Suddenly, one tyre blew out. The driver forgot to bring spare tyres. The author got excited, a bit angry, fussed and asked what they are going to do now. The Chief said that getting anxious would not help, it was “Mektoub”. So, what they did after that it surprised the writer, they progressed with flat tyre motor and sang across the desert. At one time, petrol died out. Instead of shouting at the driver, everyone remained calm.

The two incidents actually made the writer realize, how impatient the western civilization is with their neurotics, hurried, right now attitude towards everything and unsettled mindset. He realized that though the Arabs are Nomads, they are more calm and peaceful inside. However, they do not just sit around and live a laid back live. Rather in such harsh climate, they have learned bad things will happen if it were bound to happen but after that we have to bounce back with vigor, grit and optimism.

(Adapted from I Lived in the Garden of Allah by R.V.C. Bodley)

%d bloggers like this: