And in awaiting you, we have gone searching and seeking…
To the mountains of faraway lands and to the oceans and their foreign sands.
To the desert and the scorching sun and to Ali and his beloved son.
We have walked, pining, both by light and by night.
We seek you not through the eye but from the heart. We seek you before our end, despite your presence from the start.
And in this search, we look for a sign, and turn our gaze to the night skies. To the moon that shines so bright lighting up this blessed night.
And thus, we find our sign, and hear the night’s song and so, for you, we shall continue to long.
“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”
– Pico Iyer
Every three weeks or so , I try to take a day trip outside of my city. Whether it is half an hour away or two hours away. I do so to gain some perspective. Being a University student in a small city is sometimes very consuming. Leaving the city always gives me a bigger picture, allows me to see that which I cannot see when I am staring right at it.
My most recent trip was to Cambridge. I thought going to a place of such prestige and checking out the University would grant me some inspiration. Ironically enough, my favourite part of the day consisted of walking through the market. I saw fresh fruits, vegetables, little creative trinkets with inspirational quotes on them and then stumbled upon a second-hand book stall. Looking through the books, I searched for something inspiring, compassionate and spiritual – my genre for quite a bit now. Mind Body Soul. Searching for inspiration, motivation , I asked the owner if he had the Alchemist. He looked for it but didn’t find it and said that it wasn’t in the section he usually kept it in. I asked him to refer me to the section. Upon reaching there, my fingers walked through the books and I spotted Eckhart Tolle’s, ” A New Earth”. A book referred to me almost two years ago which I had tried to read. But sometimes books, they don’t flow in your being, don’t sync with your consciousness until you’re really ready for them.
I just started reading the book but its resonated with me quite beautifully. It speaks of this idea of “I” and becoming consumed with our own labels. Letting our own labels of ourselves not only restrict us but restrict our understanding of the world because we put everything into such distinct boxes and label them accordingly. As I sat at lunch and drank my cup of tea, I took a minute to stop my thinking, and looked around to look at the people who surrounded me in the room. They were all people but really , they were forces within each body. A force or an energy that I would not say is restricted by age but a living energy and that room was buzzing with everyone’s different energies. Whether it was the couple who sat next to me and hardly said anything to each other, to the two elderly beautifully-dressed talkative women who sat on my right. Then and there, I was hit with the thought that I, too was a force, an energy and had started to identify with the person I had become over the past few years. That which breaks this identification with the I is generally some kind of paradigm change brought about by a sudden change in one’s life however we could dis-identify from the I once we became aware of it… I’m only in the first chapter of the book but felt this idea to be somewhat of a revelation that I wanted to share. It’s worth taking a day out once in a while to gain some perspective.
Leaving that meal I felt like a different person but realized how much I identified with the me and how we look for assurance in other people’s view of who we are and try to fit into that category of who they think we are. But there’s a realization in the fact that people change, we change. Respect how you feel. Always.
I was recently asked : What would you do if you had 24 hours to live? The next question was: What did you do in the last 24 hours? and the last question which kind of got to me was : If those were your last 24 hours; would you have been satisfied?
I knew what I would do if I had 24 hours to live but the last 24 hours that I had spent – I don’t think I would have been satisfied with those as being my last 24. Yet the ONLY certain thing in life is that one day – we will only have 24 hours to live. Yet we do not live by that one certainty. If I asked you today – what were you to do if you had 24 hours to live – and something pops into your mind at this moment – then go and do it ! There’s magic in doing things that you’ve always wanted to do and if everyday you start doing the things you’ve always wanted to then your life is going to be the piece of art that you’ve always wanted it to be. Nelson Mandela has said ” There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ”Many of us are afraid to go out there and do what we’ve always wanted to do. We live saying tomorrow – but tomorrow is nobody’s guarantee.
Yet, if we were told we had 24 hours left – we would beg for more time. More time to: be with our families, to be with our friends, to do things that excite us, to eat different kinds of food, to see the wonders of the world, to tell those we love that we love them. Maybe we’d want to go to work to say goodbye to our friends, but suddenly we’d notice the person on the other side of the counter at the coffee shop and actually SMILE at them. Maybe we’d actually FEEL the wind blowing in our faces. Maybe we’d actually TASTE our coffee. I would think it would all seem to be in slow motion – yet you would want each moment to pass just a little slower because every second counts when there are only 24 hours left. Maybe, you’d just ask for one more 24 hour day because you never realized how precious these 24 hours were.
If we start doing the things we have always wanted to do and become conscious and aware of the moments in the day then that is truly when we will start LIVING. If we start chasing our dreams and start taking steps towards the life we want, our lives will become a conscious work of art. Life will not happen to us – we will happen to life. If we start living like every day is our last day, then one day we will inevitably be right. Hopefully,that day would have been used to its utmost potential.
The truth is our lives are our stories.The triumphs, the disappointments, the joys and the sadness all form part of our stories and those 24 hours we are give every day form the building blocks to that story. So it’s time to start playing big Everyday.
Our lives are the legacies we leave behind. They’re the stories that may just inspire someone to live a life different to the one they’re living. You may value courage, or strength or simply a good heart – whatever it is that you value start working at being a person that encompasses those values. Make your life a piece of art that specializes in all that you value so that you become exactly who you want to become, inspire those around you, and leave the world with an extraordinary story.
“Everyone becomes a story. Be a good story.” – Imam Jaffar Sadiq (as)
I have not written in a while. The truth is this blog started off mapping an external journey that I would take yet that journey truly took me on a very internal journey. I am not sure what I went looking for; maybe peace, maybe God, maybe clarity. I am not even sure if I found any of it ; but I found a thirst for each of these but came to the conclusion that I can be on a quest for it all from exactly where I am. The truths surround us everyday, everywhere. Buddha left his palace and roamed the Magadha country in search for the truth but truly became enlightened when he sat under a tree. Our first place of prayer is truly in our hearts. In light of that there is a little observation I would like to share with you, from Toronto.
The title of this blog is pretty straightforward and should not be all that surprising. However, I feel like it is quite revolutionary and that it is too often forgotten: that after the night comes the day and after the Winter comes the Spring.
I must say, this has got to me one of the harshest winters I experienced. We had a lot of snow, but snow if fine: it was just a long, cold , harsh winter. It’s been said we were paying for the lack of winter we experienced last year. We were well into April and it felt like winter wasn’t ending.
Ten days ago, I wondered when Toronto’s winter would end. Today, I feel like we have hit full on summer. I can’t help but have a skip in my step and a smile plastered to my face. I can’t help but watch every flower blossom and admire every tree that changes color. In the five years of living in Toronto, I do not remember seeing the trees growing their leaves so fast nor the flowers blossoming so rapidly. Maybe I never payed attention. But I am in awe every single day.
This tree was bare ten days ago and is now pink:
I see a beautiful sign in it all. It is not merely a bare landscape becoming a bearing landscape but a sign in it for all of us : that even when it feels like we have been put into our darkest winter : it could very well be that we are about to experience our best Spring. There is a beautiful quote by Imam Ali (as) that states” Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, for it is only in the darkest nights that the stars shine brilliantly.” Sometimes we need a winter to help us appreciate our Spring even more, to take the time to appreciate each flower that blossoms.
Secondly, an important lesson from all of this is that everything has its place. There is a time for the night and a time for the day and there is a time for the winter and one for the spring. Do not doubt that one will not come without the other. They come hand in hand. When times are tough, do not doubt the good times and when times are good, do not forget the tough. Smile through them all. Plant your seeds on the cold, dark days and watch them grow as soon as the sun shines.
There is great beauty in the winter and that is that it strips us bare of almost everything and then the spring comes to replenish us with the new and healthy and we are re-born stronger. I do not see it as a coincidence that September to May is a 9 month period. It is a period of new life.