Rediscovering Ramadaan#17

Between the ebb and flow of soul energy is the still shore within. Remain.  Even as the waves recede and bide you farewell. Remain and resist the urge to be carried away by the waves. Where once you were frolicking in the water embracing you, you’re now left with sand residues that are grating against your skin in the chill evening breeze.

You were not made for the ocean. The ocean was made for you, to bring you tides of creativity and intuition. Insights. Gems.
But as you receive, you must let go. As you inhale, you must exhale. As you sow, you must harvest. As you live, you must die. And as you love, you must lose.

But don’t let it deter you. In the wake of an ebb, you’re given space to notice and marvel at the sunrise, at the seagulls, at the fresh air permeated by sea salt that tingles your nostrils, at the sea shells and pebbles and seaweed, sprinkled like confetti all around you. There’s a whole world beyond the gratifying bubble of receiving all that’s good and pleasing.

The waves will soon return to you with hidden treasures fetched from the deepest parts of the ocean, and the meeting place will always be in the midst of your inner shore.

Find the inner silence so that in the face of the rhythmic pulse of life you can remain grounded, standing, free. You can remain gazing at the ever-present horizon.

لكي لا تأسوا على ما فاتكم ولا تفرحوا بما آتاكم والله لا يحب كل مختال فخور

“In order that you may not be sad over matters that you fail to get, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you. And Allaah likes not prideful boasters.”

(Al-Hadid 57:23)

Let passion kill you so that you can live

Ideas don’t change the world, people do.


In every culture and institution, in every individual’s mind, there’s the overwhelming and compelling need to be significant in some ways. The idea that once we’re dead, our memories, thoughts,feelings, personality – would disappear forever is frightening and is the driving force behind every action ( and inaction for that matter). Some seek it through fame, others through the notoriety of crimes and bloodshed. That’s why there are prestigious universities like the Ivy League in the US and Oxbridge in the UK. That’s why many parents push their kids to take up violin lessons by age 4, join student organizations, competitions, pageants; they want to be significant through their (hopefully) successful child. They want to be the Parent of THE President, Parent of THE Lawyer, Parent of THE Doctor. That’s why many a young bright minds with fire in their bellies go for the careers with best potential of wielding power over things that matter to them, and create change on a larger scale. The same bright minds find themselves, 10-20 years down the road, overworked,underappreciated,drowning in debt,and with depleted hearts.

Who doesn’t want to be like  Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein? Who doesn’t dream of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, or the discoverer of a cure for cancer? What’s happening then? Why is there such a big disparity between what people want and what people become? Why is it that in an age where virtually anything is possible and everything is accessible, more social media apps are created than discussions had on a permanent solution to toxic waste; people focus more on picking out the perfect selfie from the 50 nearly identical selfies they took than they do on corrupt leaders or horrible tragedies, like the drowning of nearly a thousand migrants in the Mediterranean ocean ?

Why is the self-help industry a  multi-billion dollar industry when we feel more lost than ever?

I’ll tell you why: passion can’t be standardized. 

Whoever purports to give you a map to attain your passions, or become who you dreamt of being- they are either fooling you or fooling themselves. People aspire to be just like the prolific giants who went down in history for their achievements,art, and excellence. They want to know how many hours Picasso put in, what books Einstein read, how to follow Zuckerberg’s trajectory and come up with the new Facebook. 10 000 hours or 10 lifetimes won’t get you the answer. YOU hold the answer. Cliché, huh? We do not choose our passions, they choose us. We’re born with that candle waiting to be lit. We stumble across some book, or see some comedian, and voilà! We are burning with passion. But it wasn’t random or because you just happened to come across comedy before chemistry. Passion is a force beyond our comprehension. It can’t be forged nor can it be forced. It’s an intricate part of our being, just like our height or eye colour is an intricate part of our body. It doesn’t need fixing or adjusting. It just needs to be unblocked; unblocked by your fears, and perfectionism, and what-ifs, and shoulds. You need to declutter others projections,perceptions,predictions and pessimism that have accumulated within you over the years, and give your soul space to grow a garden.

Let go so that you can grow.

Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein,MLK,Gandhi- they didn’t envision, at the onset, that they’d achieve what they did. They just did what they were burning for and that fire of passion purified them and shaped them into their legacies. They didn’t see it coming. But it was within them, just like a tiny seedling that grows into a giant sequoia tree; let yourself grow into you, and stop forcing yourself to become what you’re not!



 “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
― Joseph Campbell

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”
― Katharine Hepburn

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
― Catherine of Siena

“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.”
― Janis Joplin

“It is easy to live for others, everybody does. I call on you to live for yourself.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Every living organism is fulfilled when it follows the right path for its own nature.”
― Marcus Aurelius

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”
― Rumi

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
― Henry David Thoreau

“Within you, you will find everything you need to be complete.”
― Bryant McGill

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.”
― Abraham Maslow

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



eyes on the road

Hazy road across the forest

I noticed something that happens when I’m fully immersed in the present, doing something I love, in the flow . I don’t get the usual cravings for anything saccharine to stall the anxiety. I’m focused. My soul feels full. I’m happy. But when I’m not, when I’m distant and fleeing some current problem, I become bleak and distracted. I become obsessed with organizing stuff and trivial details. I crave anything that I can mindlessly munch on. I can’t be still nor can I do something of substance. I become like a zombie, an automaton ; I can’t read, write, do tasks, answer emails, watch movies. I never knew why that was so all I could ever do is wait it out.

I’m currently in that zoned-out state but this time  I tried to flip the tables by retracing the past couple of days in my mind and ask myself what set this off? And sure enough, I remembered that I had an unpleasant experience this past Sunday and that’s when I went on my escapism voyage. I started daydreaming about stuff to come and at the time I thought I was doing myself a favour, you know, with the whole positive imagination. I started craving stuff which I hadn’t in a while. I became tougher on myself to do the things that are necessary for that daydream to happen, and as a result I came to loathe myself.

I escaped my present because of pain but my mind can’t be idle. It went firing off in every direction, returning with nothing but anxiety and compelling emptiness.
When one is goal-oriented, that is, focused on a certain outcome in the future, then life becomes void of meaning and substance and it turns into a means towards something. What will one do on the way there? And once that outcome is achieved, what then? Goal-orientation relies on extrinsic motivation to make up for the hollow process, so what pushes one towards that distant future is the carrot of praise and accolades dangling in front of one. Life becomes like a hamster  wheel; running towards running.

But when one is process-oriented and focused on development and improvement as opposed to achieving an outcome, then this is what true living is about. One is at peace and mindful. No competition or agitation or fear. No pressure, disappointment or perfectionism. At the same time, you are developing an inner strength fuelled by intrinsic values and inspiration. You become like the rain, giving life to yourself and others.

Life is a process, or else we might as well die right when we are born. Life is faith. It takes growing into. Nothing will come in the future that isn’t already within you today. No happiness hinges on an outcome and no sadness will leave at the crack of dawn. It’s a simple mindset change; focus on intrinsic causes that transcend time and make it simple. Goals are eventual mile markers.

Love, but don’t own.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday.

خليل جبران

-Khalil Gibran

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