Tuesday, September 14, 2010

idylls of a summer

The other day I caught myself complaining about how chilly it was getting – for the fifth time in one day, quite possibly. It’s an everyday occurrence really; I will invariably lament the waning of summer while simultaneously anticipate the sound of autumn leaves crunching beneath my boots. This happens and then I promptly forget about it, caught up in the meanderings of everyday life and its seemingly endless tasks.

Today I sit at the table looking out the window, as I usually do. But at quarter to seven in the evening, the sky is still blue enough, with enough golden rays hitting the side of the Hilton hotel across the way to show that there’s still a good amount of daylight left. I think about how just a few weeks ago, sunset seemed an awfully long time coming, particularly to those who were waiting to break their day-long fast. Back then, 6:45pm meant a good hour left until a drop of water could touch the parched lips. And yet here we are – the sun is almost disappearing at the same time on the clock. There’s warmth left in the breeze, the rays are no longer scorching but a relief to feel. The expected chill is not so chilly, and summer is gently hanging on by a few beautiful amber threads. I am reminded yet again of just how ephemeral life really is, and how relative time is.

About two and a half months ago, I was in a house full of anticipatory relatives, gearing up for the long-awaited wedding of “the next cousin-in-line,” the one who had already been skipped over once, the one who has already gone past the “prime” time for marriage. Mine. I am sure they all breathed an audible sigh of relief that it was finally happening, and when it finally happened. Back then, I could not imagine the month of September without several knots twisting and turning in my stomach, or without my brain ricocheting off in various directions, wondering if it all really was going to happen. Summertime seemed like a true diamond in the water (it’s besides the point that I don’t even like diamonds) – something to hold onto dearly because I couldn’t tell if a married life of September was really going to appear or some catastrophic situation would ruin everything and render all of this a tottering dream. The season that has always been the sweetest to me seemed even more precious than ever before. It held meaning like it never had before. Every day that passed was another day that would be entirely changed a year from thence. To be sure, June 7th comes around every year – but never again will it come around in this anticipatory state, in a pre-marriage, solitary kind of way. And it was beautiful.

Just like these summer days that are disappearing one by one, that time did too, full to the brim with expectation and beauty. There was a lament of previous days gone by mixed with the anticipation and excitement of what will follow. The colors of fall, the smell and the sounds—they unfold little by little, baring open the full brightness of the reds, yellows, oranges and browns that are sure to paint the landscape. With the change in the wind, will come a quiet and peaceful inner warmth – a feeling of being encased in someone else’s arms when all around feels chilly. And that someone else being my husband – well, that is a wonderful thing indeed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Of Spirituality and Totem Poles

In recent weeks – or even months – I’ve started to revisit this concept of spirituality, and what it means for me. More so than ever before. I’ve been jaded for who knows how long. A jaded believer, if you will. I’ve been feeling like all this talk of religion and life-after-death and fear-of-God and the neverending list of to-do’s and not-to-do’s have been overwhelming, and consequently, has pushed me away. Who but God should be judging our actions? Why do I need friends on Facebook posting status messages about Ramadan and its holiness to feed my guilt – not my desire – into fasting/praying? To be sure, religion is designed to keep society in check, to keep moralities and immoralities separate, to provide people with “guidelines” on how to live life… But that just hasn’t worked for me. The more I have been told to read and try to understand why I am and am not supposed to do certain things, the more disenchanted I became. To fake faith is the worst disservice one can do to oneself, and even others.

When I sat down to write this, I scrolled down to see my meager previous posts. Funnily enough, the last noteworthy one was about the same topic of religion. And a loss of peace. And I remember exactly how that felt – and still does, most of the time. But here’s where I’ve changed—peace is beginning to come back into my soul. This did not happen through any religious awakening. It did not happen through friends or families’ incessant blateration about religion and religious duties and the wrath of God. It wasn’t a heavens-opened-up moment of revelation.

It came from myself. It came from a realization deep within that self-improvement is not something I should spew in words, but something I need to strive ardently for. It came from the realization that I have the potential to be a good person, and I have not even scratched the mere surface of being one. It came from my own search into myself – brought on my none other than my own self, and the knowledge of how little I have done for those around me, and just how much I have wronged so many who have been dear to me...

It’s a start, and I am at the very lowest rung of the totem pole of spirituality, if there was to be such a thing. I am at the Regretful Self level (re: Sufism); I have been realizing my shortcomings and I have the desire to change. The faults are innumerable, and the realization very dim. There is a strong desire to change, but that change is a long way off. I will get there, hopefully not as slowly as I fear. Everyday is a challenge, but everyday is also a chance, to do the right thing.

To quote my recent inspiration, Sultan AbdulHameed, “the controls for changing our circumstances are not in what we see around us, but within us, in the invisible parts of us, where our thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs reside.”

That’s where my search is taking me… to where my beliefs reside.