[Brace yourself, dear reader, for a whole lot of unstructured cheese: this is going to be one heck of a rather messy, rather cheesy, entry]
Something has got to change, and fast.
Something has got to change, and fast.
I know who you are: of course I do. You are the girl who thinks far too much – who feels this need, within yourself, to be able to dismantle, unravel, every single thing you possibly can
in that loud – and sometimes deafening – mind of yours.
caught beneath tidal waves. I do so hope you find a way back to the air, a (newfound) way to breathe, once again.
And are you not also that boy that hides, who lets himself lurk in the shadows, and paints upon himself smiles, so that maybe the rest of the world might just be satisfied. You are he who cuts parts of himself out, endeavouring to make himself feel whole again, somehow.
I know you. There is a mystery to you, without a doubt. But, still, there is nothing of you that is utterly unknowable. To know them – all of these parts – deeply enough, though, a little bit of effort needs to be made.
You are the type of person to fall in love with things that will not love you in the same way, back. Like the entirety of this world – this camel’s carcass. All the bigness, and what might look most shiny. It will chew you up and spit you out, if you grant it even the slightest of chances to.
And to what things do you sometimes turn, so as to (attempt to) numb those things that your mind is prone to producing? Which things, for you, help to ‘take the edge off’, allow you to pretend, for a little while, that you are not really here, standing, as you are, in a maddening world that lacks the means to requite thy love?
You are here, if you are reading this. And what could it be that you truly long for?
It’s strange, you know, just how much terminologies and metaphors related to cleaning and cleanliness come into play when we talk about our own life-related longings. We want to feel clean – somehow – and not just on that skin-deep level. We want to be able to scrub away so many parts of yesterday; to do away with all that we might now deem to be impure;
remnants of times gone, or that are still here; we wish to wash away at ourselves, until we feel ‘new’ again.
It’s nice sometimes: on those rainy days, when you wake up to those gentle tap-tap-taps upon your window, and you’re inside, and the entire world feels like it is no longer loud; like all of it is being cleansed by water from the skies. There is only your world, here, and doesn’t it just feel so blissfully insular? Forget about all that may take place outside of it. All that is real is all that is here, and
A ‘spring cleaning’ kind of day, as you might refer to it. You strip away all that is old; dust the shelves; clean the floors,
sweep up the mess. You replace it all with relative newness – what might feel more clean and comforting. New sheets upon your bed, new flowers placed in crystal water in (same old) vase, that lemony-clean scent that lingers, afterwards, throughout your air.
But, hear me out, dear friend. Disinfectants can also have a fading effect, a dulling one: scrub just a tad too hard, and you shall see. I really don’t want you to lose these parts of yourself. It is difficult for me to believe, sometimes, that you are unable to see the beauty in you: this is something that is quite easy for me to do. What I like most, perhaps, are all your colours.
There is a vibrancy to you. It is present during all your summer evenings, when that dusky sunlight emanates from the very words that you speak. It feels distinctively…silky, somehow, and it is nice when little flocks of birds dart past, their silhouettes making themselves known, upon each of your four walls.
I like you when you are winter, too. When the leaves begin to rust, and then they fall, making way for all those many nights that feel a bit more… electric-blue. A little colder, yes, but there is no doubt at at all that it is all still you. And,
it is enough for me, anyway,
in any case.
Life comes and goes in seasons, in cycles. In sevens and in three-six-fives. In each of those moments that show little sun-kissed promises of summer, and yet, at the same time, sing of rose-garden springs. And, yes, sometimes winter comes, and it stays for a little longer than anticipated. The trees become cold, old, unprotected, what with their lack of leaves; stop, for a while, then start again, but in a new kind of way. And on each of these days,
these day-long nights, we shall light candles for ourselves, find
what is True – and this can only be found in the relative
quiet. Place the cupped flames upon our window-sills and make Du’a; the candles won’t do much to melt the snow, no, but fear not, because spring is surely on its way. God is As-Samee’ and Al-Mujeeb; He hears you, and
Spring shall announce herself to us, when she is ready.
And in these particular desires of ours for newness, we must know that
life is composed of seasons, and, try though we might, we find we cannot scrub away an entire seasonal phase. Cycles are just that, you see – cyclical: and who are we to demand, of them, straight lines?
You know, when things get a little chaotic – when some things find themselves spilt across the floor, and when others just don’t feel right at all – I think these are all just signs that may point to the coming of a next part. Things do get messy sometimes, simply because things happen. Life does not stay still; where there is time, there is necessary dynamism. Movement, this way and that. There is no real telling what comes next.
So why don’t you give a little time to yourself, to breathe, dear friend? I know you shall find your way again.
And know that it is true: nobody knows you
better than God does, and no human being alive knows you better than you can claim to. What is it that you might need, right now, so as to allow for the next part to gorgeously arrive? A change in habit, perhaps – the life-giving embrace of a certain someone?
Strange, it is, the state of the world, today: the people, they say that there is no objective meaning – nothing to ground all this reality in. There are only atoms, meaninglessly buzzing, this way and that. And then, they tell us, create your own truths, why don’t you? There is no gravity, so float: build your fantasy worlds, your
on shaky nonexistent ground, and allow yourself
to be beckoned by all those paper skylines. The American Dream, and its offspring half-truths, empty truths: run to it all, chase it, hungry as a wolf. But blame us not, for the way in which paper has a tendency to fall, or to burn, as soon as it is breathed on.
Some lives, these days, would appear to be so very ‘rich’, in comparison to other ones. But ‘richer’ does not necessarily mean ‘happier’, nor better, I am afraid. And you do not become more ‘human’, more ‘real’, the more you come to own; the ‘bigger’ you can claim your life to be. What matters is wellness; the harmony, all the balances.
What would appear to matter most is the cultivation of a life of inspired spirituality, serenity. If you were to ask all the people you know about when the best periods in their lives thus far have been, you will likely find, in their responses, recurring themes of spirituality, connectedness, and discovery.
I tell you again, dear friend, that no other human being on the face of this Earth knows you the way that you do. How often do you sit with yourself, in stillness, just to listen, ask yourself what you might need, now? How often do you make it a point to hold yourself, and to welcome yourself home again, back to that skeleton of yours that holds you up every single day of the week,
to that soul of yours that sings, for you, all of your you-shaped melodies?
With how much fluency are you able to speak your own language? And how much effort have you put in, towards learning it?
Spring is coming, doubt it not. But even if you try to suppress her, my friend, her flowers will still bloom – though, do be warned: they may begin to flower up and congest your lungs.
Today, why don’t we allow for them grow in an uninhibited way? The basis of life: these little breaths of ours. There is little good to be found in self-imposed suffocations, no matter how rosy we may perceive them to be.
Strange, isn’t it? How much we tether ourselves to the big and bad ‘outside world’, to a reality that is often sick as a result of its own lies, its own fundamental emptiness, ephemeral tales. We let its delusional premises, promises, swim through our bloodstreams; we bow before its assembly lines, its obsessions, restlessness, its hellish commitment to its own admitted pretences. And then, we act shocked when the whole of it makes us ill, too.
Most of all, it would seem as though we are all in search for womb-like comfort, and this, often, in things that simply cannot grant it to us.
‘Home’ is a place that is warm. It is what we can point to as being our own ‘portion[s] of the world’. It facilitates our being in a way that nothing else can; in a way that is neither aggressive nor angry; it fosters our nourishment, and our growth.
Home has its walls, yes. In their own absence, walls just become open floodgates. Our sanctuaries might become contaminated; we become dizzy; there enters far too much to take in. What we look for is a spirited sort of serenity; complete with its own door, which we can open when so desired, and close, too, when needed.
This is your portion of the world. What does it look like? And, did you know that you shall never be this young again; that you will never get this very time back? What are you doing to ensure that you are enjoying where you are,
Most of us yearn for meaning. And we tend to find meaning in things that we can touch, or feel, and in things that might stay. A certain work ethic, maybe. A cognitive fortress – built through the accumulation of knowledge. Or, perhaps, in money, and in our jobs. A thriving business, perhaps? Maybe, via living vicariously, through our children?
What will fulfil us, best?
“You prefer the life of this world,
although the Hereafter is better and more lasting.”
– Holy Qur’an, (87:16-17)
In Plato’s infamous allegory, his Cave represents ignorance. In our tradition, however, caves might symbolise necessary escapes, protective womb-like structures. All else is false, illusive – all except the things that point towards the only necessary Real. I think we ought to work towards cultivating lives in which His word provides the lifeblood – for a life that might actually show promises of being real.
For a moment, then, be still, friend. Be still among the trees, and with yourself, under night skies, and against the ground. And remember to love all of the ‘little things’, just as much as they ought to be loved. [Why do we see them as being ‘little’, insignificant, in the first place? They are indubitably what our lives are made up of.] The warmth of the entire world, felt through woollen jumper and radiator,
just beneath frosted glass window. Winter cannot be denied, and neither can summer.
I suppose this might be one of the reasons as to why I am so fond of (more-or-less) daily journalling. You write about all these ‘little things’ – no, let’s call them the essential things. And then, you go to read over these old entries half a decade later, and you realise that, yes, it had all been so very important. The flavour of the ice-cream you had enjoyed that day; the lovely compliment a friend had given you; those summer evenings, all those lazy summer strolls, the uplifts that came
Here is where the blooming might be taking place; where the flowers might cease from congesting your airways. You may now speak. You may now come to realise that it is only really Home that you so seek.
Home begins where you do.
Are you tired? Tonight, please, allow yourself to breathe, my friend, and know that this is not (yet) the end. There are parts of you that may feel a little broken; still, there are parts of you that are blooming. And they – the latter parts – are undeniable, take it from me. So who are we to stand before the seasons, and against them, rebelliously commanding winter to not beckon towards those sweeter summer skies?
Which colours might characterise life, for you, right now? Who are the people who bring you peace; which are the clothes that bring you comfort? What feels most warm, for you, and who, on this planet, is your safety?
There is something about Fajr time, that puts everything into perspective, over and over again. Hopefully it will continue to do so, for us, for as many times as there will be days in our lifetimes. You escape the serenity of temporary slumber, an unwelcome jolt. The sky’s colours, at this time, are only visible to those who are up to see them. A tremendous quiet ensues; everything falls, and all becomes clear. And those two Rak’at that you first pray – did you know that they alone are better than the entire world and all that is in it?
As dawn arrived, time seemed to stand still. Lazy rays of sunlight; the silhouettes of those birds, again, darting across the walls. The sky is an awfully beautiful thing to behold, and to befriend. And it is in these moments – the dawns, the dusks – that things stand still, and those necessary moments of clarity ensue. The sky, in its mighty and God-given grace, allows the human being this sense of constancy, while, in the same (sometimes icy, sometimes golden) breaths, allows us to be reborn, over and
over again. The storms might continue for a little longer outside, but fear not, dear friend, because all the while, we will be here, inside. Patience and prayer, patience and prayer. Some creativity, some biting our tongues, perhaps, too. Here, we will do
all that ought to be done. Watch, with a cup of tea – or two –
as each of those flower buds break open and bloom –
just as it is very much in their nature to do.
Sadia Ahmed J., 2020