slip-sliding away…..

The opportunity

Posted by Yacoob on September 27, 2006

The opportunity

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Initially, I’d planned on talking about one thing (which is the topic of this post) – but I got sidetracked, and the detour became its own post, “Changes”, below this. So, read one, or read both….its all just stuff in my head, which is finding its way out.

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In all honesty, ramblings such as these are often just for myself – an outpouring of what’s on my mind. They’re not written with the objective of getting someone else’s thoughts on the matter, or even trying to influence someone else through my own thoughts…it used to be selfish, written for me only – sometimes shared with a few others; but through this blog, it seems, i now have, a public space to share some of these outpourings.

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So, read on if you will – comment and discuss too if you will. But feel no obligation to say anything about it. After all, it still isn’t for you – its for me. But you’re more than welcome to join me in my head :)

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“The opportunity”

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Every year, when Ramadaan comes, we are reminded of the many, many benefits of this month; the benefits of fasting; the meaning of Ramadaan; the great opportunity we have to “change” ourselves for the better.

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This year is my first Ramadaan all alone – no parents, no family, no relative to stay with me (this is out of choice). And though I felt a sadness at this initially, I’ve realised what a blessing it is – what an opportunity it is.

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Solitude has always been a big part of my life. It’s given rise to a very, very active mind (over-thinking); a lot of self-analysis; and – very importantly – the physical, intellectual and emotional space to discover myself and ‘work’ on myself at times.

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At the end of last Ramadaan, I made a list: a written account of things I wanted to improve, needed to improve – and *how* I planned on improving them.

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This practice of writing down problems, thinking through them and writing down possible solutions, is something which I’ve found very encouraging:

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* It helps me articulate things that would otherwise sit festering in my mind, and seeping into my thoughts and well-being.

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* It also gives me a feeling of action – of initiative. Taking action to fix something that’s wrong…or trying to fix it, at least (for we do not fix things – we only make the intention to fix/improve them, and then make our efforts to do it).

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This year, I’ve realised that I really can use this month to try to address more of my problems, and make some self-refinements and improvements. We’ve been reminded many times by now, I’m sure, that this month is an opportunity for changes.

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Living alone for the past year has taught me a lot about how life can overtake you. The person you are, the person you want to be, the dreams and goals you have….these are all “you”. But, when you take on the responsibilities of adult life (which I haven’t fuly done yet, but I’m much closer now than I was a year ago) – you find that there’s so much you have to do, so many things that need to be done…and you can drown in your duties and obligations and the things that are required just to keep going.

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You can lose yourself – but not like the Eminem song…this “losing yourself” I’m talking about is the loss of what’s important to you; the piling up and pressure of everything else, which gives you less and less time for yourself. less and less time to do the things you love; the things that feed your soul; the space and time and freedom you NEED to be truly well-balanced.

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So, this year, while I have much privacy and more time (for I’ve made some adjustments – made this a big personal project of mine), I’ve made a new list. Except this is not just a few things, and its not confined to a “problem – solution” format.

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This list is everything i could think of – problems, aspirations and dreams, things i’d like to improve on, bad habits i’d like to drop, new activities i’d like to bring into my life permanently.

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Its a long list, and i’m not planning on trying to implement it all, or figuring out how to do each and every one of them. First and foremost – its another one of those personal outpourings, meant to take it from being stuck in my mind, and put it one step closer to reality.

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I’m sure we all know about procrastination. But we should also know that a very, very important method of fighting procrastination is to break things up into manageable pieces.

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For me, this list is not so much a list of things to do. Its a list of big and small that I aspire to and aim for. Things that have lived in my mind for years, but never been formally expressed as “goals” or objectives.

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Writing it down is my first step. Once its on paper, it becomes more real.

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Whether these things happen or not – is not my concern at the moment. It doesn’t matter to me if I do achieve the things on the list.

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What matters to me is that I’m being pro-active about the things that are important to me. And that starts with small steps. And that continues with consistent efforts for the rest of my life. Efforts which are regular – and not ‘routine’ (because routine can be good, but when routine loses its meaning to you – when you lose sight of your original motivation – then its no longer good).

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If I can offer any advice to other people on this topic – its:

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0.) make a dua for guidance and inspiration in your thoughts and ideas; then

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1.) evaluate yourself;

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2.) if your will to work on certain things is strong enough, then take that first step of writing down (or recording, whichever way works for you) what you want or need;

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3.) make a sincere intention to work on those things (in any volume you want);

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4.) make a dua for guidance, assistance, courage and strength in your endeavours; then finally

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5.) get started!

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Ramadaan mubarak to all :)

 

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6 Responses to “The opportunity”

  1. al said

    first Ramadaan mubarak to u 2.
    its amazing what this month does to ones mind.in a sense i culd say that this is my ‘first’ ramadaan,being the 1st tym imm actually fully aware of and activated to attain all the blessings it comes with.

    ur lucky to be alone,eevn tho it culd become very much well,,lonely.but when u surronded by family and have to live in a crowded space, what you wanna do for yourself can get lost very very easily.im not complaining i love being with family but this month supposed to be abt you and ur Creator.having responsibilities, especially for chicks, lyk cooking is sucha bummer.it wastes soo much of crucial tym,tym that i now realise will never be afforded to me again.its particularly crap when u living in a household that stresses on good food.u kno the buzz(or do u?) samoosas pies the works,to me-sucha waste of tym and oil.and my family thinks im crazzy for being a minimalist when it comes to food in this month.aah well,to reiterate my point-ur lucky u have tym for ureself.what, trying to juggle cooking for a fam of 5, tackling campus, being a person and still vying for tym to prostrate to The Creator, it can get messy and sumtyms downrite frustrating. but i suppose that not everyone is blesed wit the path of seclusion,sum of us have to attain His Mercy via alternate routes…
    still,ur lucky
    peace,al

  2. Dreamlife said

    Thanks, and I hope your ‘first’ Ramadaan is one of your most special times ever :)

    You know, you’re right – about how responsibilities take up so much of your time; and its not like you can just leave them and say “I have something more important to do”. Part of adult like – a big part, actually – is that we have responsibilities (

  3. Dreamlife said

    It took me a while to learn this – to get beyond being resentful and immature about, “this is taking up sooo much of my time” ; but eventually I realised, as my mother put it, that “this is life”.

    You’ve gotta accept that you’ll never be a child again. Everything will not be done *for you* anymore. Once you’re grown up, you’ll be doing these things yourself. And, inshallah, you’ll be doing them for your own children one day. So, though it may take time to realise it, thats the way it is – and its a lesson we have to learn sooner or later. It is for our own good, and it teaches us a lot about accountability.

    You’re right, not everyone has the same route…but inshallah you will find yours, or it will find you :)

    In a situation like yours, though you may not get to spend a lot of time on yourself, i think the best you can do is appreciate and make good use of the time you *do* have – wherever and whenever that may be. After salaah is a good time, so if you can, move things around so that you don’t have to rush off somewhere after that.

    Also, I think we’re so blessed to have the campus that we have. Although I may not be qualified to say this, since I’ve only really been around 2 Universities in SA – I think we’ve got one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. So, in your free periods, consider yourself to be equally important to your studies (i.e. exam prep, etc)…I mean, you shouldn’t *have* to spend all your time on academic work. Take some time to find a quiet place, away from everything, and just sit and relax/think/do whatever you want to for yourself. There’s a few places I can recommend (mail me if you wanna know) ; but for me at least, its even more special when its a place you find yourself – makes it more personal.

    the opportunities for alone-time are there…sometimes its just hard to recognise them.

  4. al said

    once again thanx(seems i’m thanking u a lot lately!) for the advice.
    a quiet place on campus???–mmm not too sure!! i prefer my room, on the mat or in a mosque-i looove it in the mosque-wish i culd sit for itikaaf this ramadaan,but that wuld be pushing it!
    lol,yeah adult life-im embracing it,it has its perks.
    thanx agen
    and enjoy the last ten days-its going sooo fast quite scary.i’m going to miss this me so much,but the true test is how we deal afterward-shaytaan and all!!
    take care
    peace,al

  5. [...] then, in recent years, it represented a time for spiritual intensity. A time where I could – without question – focus [...]

  6. [...] Three years ago, I experienced my first Ramadaan ‘alone.’ And I had all these bursts of inspiration. I recorded these ambitions, hoping that they’d carry over into long-term life improvements. But alas, in my time alone, I saw that many of those plans never materialised; despite all the enthusiasm and commitment I felt when I wrote it all down. [...]

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