We tend to think of things in terms of dichotomies. The ‘exciting’ and the ‘boring’. The ‘cool’ and the decidedly un’cool’. The easy and the difficult. The ‘glamorous’ and wonderful, versus the terrible, the miserable.
Paradisical islands and continued peace and bliss, versus: waking up; going on Twitter; when nature calls; ironing our clothes; doing what must be done.
There are always things that need to be done – for all of us. What do we do? Do we run from them; escape into worlds of fiction? What is it, that might authentically liberate us, from this?
There is real-life, and there is (what, at present, remains the stuff of) fiction. Fiction: the product of human imaginations. The abilities we have, through which to single out the most dazzling and desirable parts of the human experience. And to then… run with it. As poets; as painters; as playwrights, and daydreamers.
We – and our lives – are not the stuff of fiction. We have, in our minds, our ideal selves. We may try to enact these versions of ourselves, online, and, as much as we can, before certain people.
But who are we, when we feel our best? And, most comfortably real?
Could this life ever be good enough, for us – in truth, and not solely in the images we try to construct, of it – until we reach Jannah?
Never, here in Dunya, are these lives of ours totally ‘unbearable’. And never, either, do we get the deepest wants of our hearts fulfilled. This, as I need to remember [I, a devourer of movies and series, touting fictional role models to pin oneself to, lifestyles to aspire towards, deliberately and insurmountably one-dimensional characters to admire] is not Jannah. And nothing – no place, no other person, no other time nor way of being – is ever going to ‘liberate’ me from the essence of Dunya. Nothing but Death will.
That might sound… dark. But I say it not in a misery-inducing, hopelessness-infused manner. I just mean, real life is real life. Moments of utter ‘liberation’ from this do come by, and they are… just moments. They are few and far between. There are our public-facing, image-based selves. The way we engineer what we want others to see, and to know, of us. There are our indoors-y, Ikea: the wonderful everyday ones. The ‘mundane’ is what makes up the majority of these days of ours. And the stuff of quiet, unobtrusive beauty are what we know we can trust; what will help us to get through, in a good way – the best way – for Dunya and Ākhirah, Insha Allah. The beauty of oranges against a sky of azure; a spritz – or ten – of perfume; those annoying-but-beloved exchanges of “what?” “what?” “what?” “what?” with your sibling. The art of being, and of ‘attracting what we are and expect’, when it comes to other people.
I know I have fallen prey to idealistic tendencies many a-time, before. It is oh-so easy to idealise realities that we are far away from; they form, in our minds, run-away spaces, places to retreat to, away from real life — whenever real life does not quite measure up. Dunya life is not meant to give us our ‘full glasses’. Now, the question is, how do we remain happy and content for the half-glass of water that is there, and patient and rational for whatever is – against our idealised constructs – not?
We are creatures who have the capacity through which to begin to comprehend infinity. We feel pain, too, and we can know poetry. This all means something. But neither eternity, nor bliss, nor eternal bliss, are to be found here…irrespective of whichever configurations of this life we come to undertake. The only way to get through it all… is through it all. In a beautiful way, Bismillah.
With Salaam, Sadia, 2021.