This year.

This year.
This year I saw in the new year under the covers. I was tired and didn’t fancy staying up 10 more minutes just because it’s the thing to do.
This year, I marvelled at the lessons my baby niece is learning in how to share, how to jump and how to not give up, forcing her to continue to colour in despite her lack of self-belief, ‘I can’t do it Khalti’. These lessons in self-confidence is like muscle memory and they need to start from now. I also discovered that leg cuddles from little human’s arms are the best kind of cuddles.
This year, I saw a shooting star, or a dying star or a whole load of star dust enter the earth’s atmosphere with such sparkle, only to disappear, far too abruptly. Beauty gone in an instant, but it didn’t take away that such glorious magic existed to begin with. I had the big dipper pointed out to me as I was standing by a lighthouse on the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean. I gazed up at the sky, at the light shining from the moon and the stars, and knew, reality is more than this; than the joys and the struggles, the mundane and the temporary distractions.
This year.
This year, I finally got a compliment of encouragement from my ballet teacher on good posture (and many a comment on more work to do on my arms!). This year I danced with heels on, and heels off, with ballet shoes and swollen toes. I began to see dance for how I always saw it as a child, as not only a form of creativity and an art, but an expression of voice. My voice.
This year, I woke up to the news of a fire that incinerated homes and souls and that there was nothing anyone could do to get them back. I kept replaying clips and reading news that only made me slump into a state of despair. I found that for some people, news feeds force them to act, but for others, only to freeze. This year I went to sleep cosy, warm and satiated, knowing full well that many a one didn’t, and yet, still I slept. This year, I realised the extent of my hypocrisy in that I can care about a cause, only to forget about it later. This year, I realised the extent of my privilege in that I can make choices in how I respond to global calamities and troubles. This year, I forgave myself in that I can only do so much, but I also held myself to account that I should at least try and when I falter, to try again.
This year, I walked around the souks of the medina and found a young man who sells okra out of a bucket for 40p a kilo. He refused to accept a contribution given by some benefactors as he said he has enough and pointed us in the direction of people who didn’t. This year, I learnt about honesty and sincerity, about excellence of character and gratitude, about contentment and trust. I learnt this all from a minute with a young unassuming man selling vegetables out of a bucket. A poor man in our twisted sense of reality, but a rich man in Truth. This same trip another elderly man was just around the corner. He accepted the donation and exclaimed that only God knew how much he needed this gift. I too learnt then about reliance in God for provision (rizq), for our eyes to remain open to who is in need and for our hearts to remain open too when we are the ones in need.
This year. This year I learnt to value the silence over the noise. To shut out the unnecessary. That sometimes things are actually better off unsaid. To remember to balance maintaining self-worth without the overpowerment of ego. To seek knowledge from learned people and to be comfortable in saying ‘I do not know’. I found that worry and prayer cannot exist at the same time. This year I decided I would no longer care what people thought of me. This year, I realised I still do care about what people think of me. This year I met women who carried such grace in their forgiveness of others that I knew I still have far to go in both receiving and giving of it. This year, I met people who have enriched my life. This year I found that I learnt something, then forgot it, then re-learnt it and forgot it again. This year I went paragliding over mountains and forests. I looked down, took in the view and then completely freaked out about being held up by a gust of wind. My heart forced my mind to stop rationalising things, to trust beyond my own abilities and to just enjoy the journey; this journey in the sky, the one down below and the transition inbetween.
Last year and the one before that, I thought I lost hope, this year I found it.


Eid thoughts

Eid Mubarak wonderful souls, whether you are celebrating today or tomorrow! Surely such a blessed day calls for ice cream and lots of it?!

Ramadan was a difficult one this year; global, national and local incidents left me feeling overwhelmed, distracted and powerless. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower was especially painful; affecting a community close to my heart and sadly illustrating the consequences of our societal ills; greed, lack of ethics and disregard by the powerful for lives that don’t seem to matter.

A few days ago however, I and another were conversing with an old man whose situation was such that he lived in poverty. As the old man left, he parted with a loving prayer where he hoped to meet us all again, only this time, in Heaven.
And it suddenly hit me. This is a life full of joy and love and hope, yes, but also a world full of sorrow and injustice and oppression and pain. But there is another life to come; a life where true and perfect justice will be delivered by the Most Just for all those oppressed and wronged. And where true and final peace will descend upon all by the Source of Peace.

I realised that my sense of powerlessness came from my inability to attach enough meaning to the afterlife.

This tragedy and all forms of hurt in the world should inspire us to be gentle with each other, to comfort, support and stand up for one another. And when we then start to feel overcome, then let us also remember that there is an afterlife where all wrongs will be put right. An old poor man in a little city in Morocco reminded me of this.