Unexpected Life Lessons from Jerusalem


Umar has been running a small antiquarian shop in east Jerusalem since 1965.

I was browsing through one of his dusty cabinets which contained some Ottoman coins, and I casually asked him if he had any Palestinian coins. He ushered me to the back of his store, reached up to a small box high up on one of his shelves, and began to show me a collection of old Palestinian coins he had collected which are no longer in print.

As I looked at them, these rusty coins whispering of a country that no longer existed, I told him how sorrowful it made me feel looking at them, and that’s when he proceeded to give me the following life lesson:

“I want to give you a lesson.

When we are sad, we use twenty-four facial muscles. When we are happy, how much do you think we use then?

We use four!

God has given you a beautiful face. I want it to stay like that. I want it to stay young, so don’t be sad. One day, Palestine will have its own coins again.”

“But Umar, one day I will age. One day I’ll become as old as you and my face won’t be young anymore.”

“Yes! But even when you are 100 years old, you can still be young. Maybe not on the outside, but here, inside.

You have hands, arms, use them! Write, make things, DO things. And please, love yourself. It does not mean you are arrogant.

Sometimes God plans things which we think are against us. Of course, we have a hand in our destiny but ultimately, God knows best. Trust in him.

In life, there will always be two answers to everything: a positive, and a negative. Always expect both answers, and when you hear something you don’t agree with, don’t be put off. Don’t let it beat you down. Always be you, and never be afraid to say what you feel.”


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