A week ago, I had put the final touches on the plan for a writing project titled “Islamic Economics”. It was the culmination of several months of work, and several years of thinking.
The last few days of thinking were especially brutal, as I tried to put together and finalize both the central thesis and the supporting materials on a stack of index-sized cards. At certain points I’d lay out the cards – they’d occupy the floor of my living room – and just stare at them for an entire day & night – building & revisiting it in my head.
And on that Wednesday night, I went to sleep having fried my brain. If you ever worked really hard at a problem, you know the feeling of waking up, knowing that while your body slept, your brain never did. I woke up groggy and almost delirious, a thousand conversations going on in my head. It felt unhealthy, but I also knew it’s the last push.
It was around 2 PM local time that my wife alerted me to the first leaks about Gaddafi’s capture. For the next 12 hours I was doing what most of you originally knew me by – tweetin’ Libya’s revolution. Those 12 hours were a microcosm of the revolution itself, with all its excitement, fear, uncertainty, elation, tears, disgust, and moral dilemmas.
And so those few hours brought with them two disparate closures. A deserved victory for the Libyan uprising, and an unforgettable conclusion to almost 9 months of putting together the ideas, sources, and materials for a writing project I’ve come to think of as the single most important thing in my life.
I’m not talking about “Islamic Economics”, by the way. Important as it is, it’s just an offshoot to the big one, “The Arab Spring Manifesto“. The plan for this one had been ready for weeks, but then I realized that the underlying economic theory must be exposed in a seperate, full-length book, or the Manifesto can’t be considered complete.
So on Friday I woke up feeling refreshed, almost reborn. I felt light, like I’ve just put down a massive weight that I carried for months. The last 24 hours were cathartic. The uprising I had tweeted from its inception to its end had triumphed, and the structure I’ve been building in my head for years had culminated.
Running on Fumes
It came at a price.
I had neglected my health, work, and social life. Most people around me – with the possible exception of my wife & some close friends – had no idea what’s gotten into me, what I’m doing or why. I don’t remember the last time I actually slept in my bed – I’ve been sleeping on a sofa bed opposite a coffee table, with a pile of books on one end and my PC on the other.
I drove myself hard because I felt I’m running out of time.
I always knew I’ll have to do this some day, but before the Arab Spring, that day seemed decades away. I thought I’ll get to build this at leisure. But this crazy rush of historical events we now know as the Arab Spring has left me with the feeling that I have to present this solution – not in a couple years, not in a few months – but now.
Whenever I thought about taking a day off, one event or the other would pull me right back in. And I’d feel guilty for the few hours’ delay.
I’ve been running a marathon-length race at sprint speed, and I need a pit stop. With the events of last Thursday, this seems like a good time.
Over the next few days, I will work on posting the plans for “The Arab Spring Manifesto” and “Islamic Economics”, in both English & Arabic. I’ll repost the original introductory vlog, after some cosmetic editing. Then I’ll take some time out to get ready for the next milestone.
Very soon, I’ll have to start looking for publishers, or at least a way to fund myself while I do the writing. According to my estimates, the writing will take 8 months to a year, full-time, provided I have assistance in editing, research, and translation. I’ll need all the help I can get, and finding a way to channel & organize that help will be a priroity.
Very soon, but not just yet.
Now it’s time to try to relax and switch off, without feeling guilty about it. I’ll probably still come online, but not to do, say, or look at anything serious (which, as you know, is difficult enough.)
Wish me luck, my awesome friends.