Julie Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way, coined the term Artist Dates. According to Cameron, creative types need to plan something different each week to awaken the muse. This could be a walk in a different neighbourhood or a solo expedition to a new bookstore or farmer’s market. It can also be going to hear an author speak.
Last Monday, I did just that. I heard Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, also known as The Gaza Doctor, address a gym full of high school students.
Dr. Abuelaish is the author of the memoir, I Shall Not Hate. He is an incredibly accomplished and compassionate man. He spent his childhood in a refugee camp in Gaza, trained to be a doctor, specialized in obstetrics and infertility, and became the first Palestinian to work in an Israeli hospital.
He was well known before 2009, but the events of January that catapulted him into the international spotlight. Five minutes after speaking with his daughters and niece in their bedroom, Israeli shells hit their home, killing all four girls and wounding other family members. This happened moments before Abuelaish was to go on air, in a previously scheduled interview on Israeli radio. The interview went live and thousands of listeners accompanied him through his grief. The footage is raw. And unbelievable.
The man himself is remarkable. Dr. Abuelaish could have hated so easily, but his response was one of peace and reconciliation. He started the organization Daughters for Life, which grants scholarships to girls across the Middle East.
Without context, these quotations may ring hollow, but here are some powerful words that Dr. Abuelaish shared last Monday.
No one is born violent.
Education is the strongest weapon to fight against any challenge in life.
You cannot be pro-Palestinian without being pro-Israeli.
Human beings are not numbers.
An educated and healthy mother will raise educated and healthy children.
The strongest is the one who behaves himself in anger.
Dr. Abuelaish reminded me of the power of forgiveness and compassion.
He also reminded me of the power of words.
Here’s to getting out of our ruts and seeing or hearing something bigger than us.
So I encourage you: whether it’s whimsical or mischievous or life-changing, plan an artist’s date. You’re worth it.