Just a young woman, writing about happiness

I know the kind of life I wanna live. I know what makes me happy and I can see it now more clearly than ever before!

happiness for me is reading a good book. It has always been my elixir for any pain, my escape from any stress, my medicine to my loneliness. Life has never been better than when I sit in a corner somewhere in a quiet room, all by myself, with my nose deep into my book, and my mind and heart somewhere in Andalusia, feeding my sheep, or living with my native american bae learning Apache and living high up on a mountain top. I smile always when I recall with nostalgia, my reading adventures. There is a whole other world out there and only readers can enjoy and busk in its adventures and ecstacy.

What makes you happy? Do you even know? If you were granted three wishes right now, apart from not catching Corona Virus, what will be your desire? what is your dream? What makes you bathe in warm joy? Sometimes, in order to keep on going in this world, we are taken over by events,worries, fears, and our realities, and we forget that happiness is a basic need. Happiness should be strived for, fought over just as much as we struggle to survive.

The question is, are you bold enough? Are you willing to give up everything else to live your dream life? Are you ready now, to just decide to leave everything behind and walk away to new-found freedom where you cane be whoever you want to be and live however you desire? What is stopping us from being ourselves, our true, innermost selves? What else is worth living for if we cannot live for ourselves? Is the illusion you have built around for yourself, draining your soul of energy, joy and warmth, worth sustaining ; is it worth keeping for the long haul? Are you not bored of living a mundane life, which is far away from the life you want, as far away as the Indian Ocean is from Space? Aren’t you tired of compromising your higher self , for everything else and everyone else, ultimately, sacrificing your innermost joy? When will you wake up and start living the life you have always had envisioned in your mind? Are you scared?

We fail when we compare our lives to others’. We fall down on our faces when we make choices that do not align with what our soul desires and needs in order to be happy. I will give you an example of my life.

I am a young woman who is trying to find her next step in life. I have done almost all the DO’S we are told if followed, we are granted success and a good life in the future. I worked hard to get an education, was a good student most of the times, sat and passed my college exams, failed some and duly retook them, I never cheated once in any of my exams and tried my best to get along with my crazy family. What I have accomplished to this moment comes from my perseverance and endurance throughout all the times I failed, fell, was frustrated and defeated.All through my life, I have always known in the deepest parts of my heart, that I would not be happy if I married someone who was not compatible with me. But this did not stop me from almost making the worst mistake of my life and marrying someone with whom compatibility was negative a million, if such a thing exists. One choice, and I would have written my desti9nyt for the rest of my future. One decision, and I would have not been in a chair, close to midnight, behind a screen, doing what brings me the best joy. I would have sacrificed my dream, the life I envisioned for myself ever since I learned to speak and write well. An extraordinary, inspiring life, full of adventures from millions of pages, some adventures I would enjoy in real time, while having the freedom to travel the world by myself, enjoying, exploring, and being inspired by other worlds all over the world. We all make the same decisions, everyday, that completely alter our worlds, and takes us where we will never find our way back to our true selves again. If you enjoy your own company, like myself, should you succumb to the pressure of coupling up, just because everyone else is? If you are happy galivanting around the world by yourself, and completely enjoying the thrill that comes from exploring new places by yourself, Should you have to settle for vacation tours that require per person sharing? Is there any reason why you cannot choose the life you want to live and not care what anyone else has to say or think about it?

If someone asked me what happiness is, I would reply with, Happiness is completely being immersed in a good book, while seated in a cottage somewhere surrounded by trees, a lake, a river or a waterfall, breathing in fresh air and being able to get inspired by my natural surroundings. Happiness for me is having an inexhaustible library of endless rows of books and novels, taking a book each day in my hands and knowing for a fact that it is going to introduce me to a whole new universe, a whole new world, changing me bit by bit from the first to the last page. Happiness is having the freedom and the means to travel around the world, learning, exploring, discovering, new forms of inspiration, seeing the world with fresh eyes everyday. Happiness is self discovery, actualization and growth. Happiness for me is a life well-lived, reading, writing and traveling.

At least, I know what I will say for my three wishes if I find a magic lamp in a mysterious cave and if I get there first before Alladin!

Whoever Searches, Finds

Ever since I can remember , I have questioned life. I have searched. And I think I have found.

 

While our life is mostly shaped by what we can see and touch, our upbringing, cultures, location, parents, attitudes and perception, it makes me wonder if your life and mine is subject to what limited experiences and knowledge we have gathered throughout our life starting with our parents’ lives as they shaped us as children. What if my life, your life and everybody else’s life was subjective and limited to our ways of thinking, what we consider as right and wrong way of living, our religious beliefs, culture, what everyone else is doing that has become the norm, and therefore, dictated over a hundred years later how a certain thing needs to be done and should be done in what way as to identify a person to that tribe, religion, culture or background? If my life is the design of partly my decisions and the limited knowledge and experience I have gathered over the last 25 years of my life, and partly the result of the influence and outside factors which I was born into, like the geographical area I was born and up to this point, live in, my religious affiliation to which I was born, my tribe and clan and the culture and routine of my people’s lifestyle and norm, what then is the real life that is objective and is originally how we were supposed, all of us , to live by?

I am writing this, knowing for a fact that some of you reading this will probably frown, dismissing my thoughts as the typical rankings of a weird person who is probably delusional, some of you will think it is better to use your time reading something else more applicable to reality, to your reality rather, something like,”Best swimwear for your summer vacation” or “How to bake the world’s moist cake”. I, however, understand that there are a few of you, who will grasp my  message, some, who will already know what I am talking about, and to you I say, welcome to this particular blog, because it is meant for you.

I recall with nostalgia, my days at school when I was a thirteen year old girl, who was clearly different from all the other girls in my town( and later I came to realize , my entire country, perhaps the entire world? I don’t know). Different in what way exactly? I will tell you… But first I need you to take a tiny detour into my past and understand a little bit about me.

I was nobody special in particular.

I found myself born to a brown-eyed beautiful woman and to a foreign father who was visiting Africa, and in this case, my town, on his charity and philanthropy assignments, of building wells and mosques across the world. He met my mum on one of his visits, and proceeded to marry her. My mum was this beautiful brown-eyed divorcee at 18 years old with already one daughter, my eldest sister, whose custody remained with her father. Which means, if you didn’t know her history, you would think she was a  lovely maiden with brown eyes and a sharp nose with high cheekbones, accentuating her most beautiful face( not to brag, my mum is the bomb even in her late forties, you could easily mistake her for my sister). Well all I can say is, my father would have been a fool if he did not hurry up to marry her. And then I was born. And whatever it is that happened before that, was irrelevant because just when I turned 3 years old , barely, my parents divorced so there is very little to nothing I could recall about my family being all together in one place. So years pass on by, I get to see my dad once or twice a year sometimes, over an impersonal formal,lunch with his friends, where they would mostly discuss progress of all my father’s projects here in my town and abroad.

Puberty set in and I found myself grappling to make sense of my world like everyone else. My mum at this point was so stressed out with life-she has always been as long as I can recall, complaining about how life did her dirty all these years- so it was no surprise when she would leave and escape her town  for somewhere else, much more dear to her. I would stay with granny, poor granny, in a house full of grannies. This did not mean I did not have a good time though, on those rare occasions my great granny would tell me stories and long tales from the “One and a thousand nights” a tale of the arabian nights so called,”Alfu leyla u leyla”,among other stories. Tales of Alladin, of worlds far away, of wisdom, of fantastical rags to riches stories, of witches and people turning to stone, and of lovers reunited after painful separation,as was the case for Kamaralzaman and Badoura. She opened my mind to new life, to interesting new possibilities, to fantasy,and to a whole new world.

Every time my mum would come back she would buy me stuff, this time I made sure she bought me story books. I would read about Sinbad, his journeys and strange lands far across the sea. I don’t recall when I became an obsessed reader, but it was not long before I turned 13, I had found myself reading novels, about absolutely anything. There was only one formal library in my town, I would go there and make sure to read as much as I could in one sitting. What made it difficult was the fact that they required membership for me to carry my book home, which discouraged me since at 13 years old, there was very little I knew about subscription or membership. But as it turned out, in the school which my father built as one of his charity community  projects, there was a library, which was stocked with Arabic and Islamic textbooks about Islamic History, Islamic theology, philosophy and the like.If you did not bother to check the shelves properly, you would have missed a rare treasure, in some neglected dusty shelves in the corner, lay old novels stamped “discarded” which were in English, and that is how I started binge-reading novels. The librarian knew me so he let me borrow the books,carry them home, and I would sign in my name and the book title of the book I borrowed every day in the register. I would read a book into the night until I knew how it ended. This meant that sooner or later I would exhaust the dusty shelves off of the few old novels. And I did.

My life changed ever since. How I viewed the world around me was different. I felt different. At school, while people ran about during recess, I would retreat to a quiet corner by the trees and away from the noise to reflect on life, admire the ants on the ground, how hard at work they were, doing God knows what. I would enjoy looking at the trees and how they whispered in the wind. Because of how different I seemed, because I was not turning out to be just like everyone was at my age, because I REALIZED MEDITATION at 13 years old but didn’t know exactly what it was called, because instead of playing during recess or gossiping with my friends I would be somewhere contemplating about the universe, deeply reflecting on verses from the Koran about God saying how He would think of whoever remembers him, فاذكروني أذكركم and my little beating heart would reply, “Here I am God, whoever you are, wherever you are, thinking about you, admiring your creation, I remember you.”Because of all this, I was weird to some, crazy to most, and bewitched and in need of urgent treatment in the eyes of my mum and granny. What can I say? I remember very little from that time, and who is to say?  Maybe, I was not spared from inheriting the many psychological disorders found in the genetic strain of my maternal family. According to my father, my mum is crazy, and he spent a better part of his efforts ensuring I was not going to turn out like her. (Don’t tell mum ,but sometimes I also think that there is some truth to what Dad was saying all these years, haha). He sent me to law school, broke my engagement with my fiancé-now I see why, then at the time, I was blind- all this in an attempt to stop me from self-destructing in what he calls , me being “crazy like my mum” moments.

If only dad knew, that everything that has been happening in my life served a purpose. If he only knew that without me being born into these circumstances, having to go through a rough childhood, being called crazy and weird, and living with a highly stressed-out mum while he was thousands of miles away, if only he realized all these things had to happen to make me who I am now; to reach me to my self-actualization and spiritual ascension. Who said the price of reaching a full understanding of self, of will power and determination, of learning the world’s secrets, of learning the omens and following them as Santiago in the “The Alchemist” was told to by the King of Salem, was easy?Good things, come at a heavy price. Someone once told me this. I got to see the light only after total darkness descended down upon my life, only after I had struggled in my childhood, lived in toxic situations, neglected and lonely for the most part of my childhood and young adulthood. I went over the edge many times, battling depressive moods while in law school, struggling to understand and reign in my emotional outbursts, working hard to fit in because I fit out, twisting in low self-esteem and confidence, self-isolation,panic and anxiety attacks. Yet here I am sometime later in my life, reading through Paulo Coelho’s the Alchemist, and feeling strangely familiar with Santiago’s journey through realizing the real world of learning omens and following them-which by the way I was skeptical of and thought if I read too much into the omens I was becoming delusional, what we normally call in my mother tongue,  “baridi ya bisi or wasiwasi”( a sort of mental delusions). I searched, I questioned, life and its meaning, always hoping, always desiring, that there is more to this life, to this world, than what we see or touch, than our beliefs and lifestyles, than the life we have, each one of us across the world, created for ourselves,than all these illusions, and I think I have found the right way to live life.I have found my priceless treasure which will henceforth be my compass throughout life.

 

 

 

The Silver Lining

Some say it is the end of the world. Priests and muslim clerics are having the time of their life, proving how on point the predictions of the koran and the Bible are about the end of times. As for me, amidst all these theories, I find myself confused, my beliefs questionable, my skepticism in a sour battle with my pragmatism.

If you ask my mum why all this is happening in the world,why we are suddenly thrown off our realities by the Corona virus pandemic, she will tell you very self-assuredly,” All this is because of God. If he wished He could take away all our problems in life.Especially mine….” Then she would go on ranting about how unfair God has been to her for making her life difficult. How she allowed for her to be a young bride, how He watched and did nothing to stop her from ruining her life by marrying the absolutely wrong men and giving birth to us.Blasphemy! Anyways this is her song to which I had no choice but to get accustomed over time.

There are so many ways someone can make you feel like the world is going to end. The news channels like CNN,ALJAZEERA, have not spared the world with all the Corona virus  updates showing how everyone is going to die very soon. The movies and TV shows, like the Walking Dead, did not help us relax during this pandemic, if only, they excited our imagination, and in some weird folks like myself, our mental preparation to prepare for the worst days when I will  probably be, the last woman on Earth or perhaps,at the very least, my town.(Imagine all the fun I could have at the grocery stores, all the chocolates and chips I could binge on, for free).

Coming to a more serious tone, I have found myself wondering exactly what God has planned for us, his children. One day I struggled to sleep and went up to the roof of my building, to gaze at the stars dancing  in the night sky.I like to talk to the night sky, specifically the moon and somehow, deep down, I always felt God or the creator or the Universe or something powerful, was listening to me question the purpose of all of this we call, living.

I lie down  on the bare cement floor facing the sky, trying to breathe in and out, relaxing, meditating-mostly, me tuning in to my thoughts about why we are even here in this world in the first place. In the process, on a good cloudy night, I focus on the passing clouds, trying to see if I can read the shapes in them. Almost wishing they were messengers who were passing by, to take my worries, fears, questions and wishes, to deliver them wherever they were heading to. I imagine the clouds soaking up all  of my tension and worry like a sponge, or a universal therapeutic stress-dustbin wherein people can throw out their frustrations and burdens and feel better afterwards.

On this particular, star-lit,calm, midnight sky, I gazed at the moon and the only recurring thought in my mind was, “Why? Why is all of this happening to the world?Why suddenly, our present and futures are unpredicatble and uncertain. How come we are so vulnerable, that one minute we wake up and everything is good with the world,and the next minute, a virus hits the world and everyone fears for their lives, people lose their jobs,  and the world stops making sense.”It is hard to think of anything else , when the media is going crazy, predicting the world is going to end soon. How long until the virus comes to your town and mine to wreck havoc and kill us? When will the world be normal again, if at all?

Times like this, everything we took for granted comes to light. You will think we had a right to live life the way we normally did before the virus struck, going about our days, our lovely routines. You would think we could object and somehow control our lives and make sure nothing ever disturbed how we struggled to survive in our normal lives. If the world was already hard enough, if making a living took all our energy and time from enjoying even the littlest things in life,  like taking a walk by the beach, or gazing at the stars in the night, how then are we prepared for lockdowns, isolation, suffocation and possible nervous and anxiety attacks or depression? If only the world gave a warning before it decided to turn on us like this. If only people had time to prepare.

The things we took for granted  on a daily basis, once upon a time, were things like waking up everyday healthy and able, taking a shower,because there is plenty of water and no viral pandemic that exhausted and stretched the town’s water supply,in a small town overwhelmed by all those people who fled cities to escape the virus, holding hands with your beloved, eating out in a restaurant, watching Frozen 2 in a theatre, traveling around the world, attending weddings,parties, get-togethers(even a burial at this point isn’t so bad an event,just to get outside and be onewith neighbours, the community to be there and to belong). The air we breath we took for granted, fasting in a normal ramadhan for muslims this time round will be far from normal, not to mention Eid, should the situation in the world continue to deteriorate.

What can we do? To whom can we turn? If there is the creator, or God, does he care?Will this virus be a pestilence in the history books tomorrow? Is this the end of the world? So many questions, and now answers.

They say this is not the first time disease and pestilence terrorized the world. Centuries ago,the Black death spread across Europe and claimed millions of lives. Today, Corona virus or the so called Covid-19 virus that broke out in a chinese province in Wuhan, and spread across the world all the way to Kenya, Africa,  has claimed almost one and a half million lives and counting. Any disease that breaks out in this time and era will spread all over the world granted, because of technology, which just quadruples the chances of this world becoming like a scene from the Walking Dead. Anything is possible in today’s world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the virus could as well be transmitted through phones and computers, in a way  that if you talked to someone who had Corona virus through the phone or skyped them or facetimed them, you would get it. I guess this is a disaster the future generations, that is if our generation ever survived this virus, will have to deal with.  Before, diseases like HIV and AIDS and cancers never existed. What then are we doing wrong? We are slowly killing ourselves and making our species extinct. Maybe, the world is soon to end afterall. Maybe, we as humans are self-destructive beings who have endangered animal species, cut countless trees for toilet paper, poisoned the very air we breathe, and now we can add eradicating our very own species to that list!

On a more positive note,let us use this idle time in the safety of our homes, to read a book or two, refresh our talents and humanity as well as enjoy the company of ourselves and those we were so fortunate or in some cases, unfortunate to be stuck with during the lockdown. See you if we survive this thing, in the next blog. And, before I forget, don’t forget to gaze at the stars and the moon tonight!While it will not change the condition world is in right now, it will atleast, change your world.

 

 

 

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