Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Lessons at 46

The eve of my birthday was another humid night with heavy clouds in the sky. The cresent moon however managed to squeeze its way through to smile a slanting cynical grin at me. "Well, you managed to dodge death for yet another year, woman. Cherish every moment of your life, for it is indeed a gift. But what have you got to leave behind if you have to go today.."

My wonderful children treated me to Molten Chocolate Cake at Uncle Chili's, something I did not expect at all. As Umair drove me and I conversed with my closest comrade the moon, I saw the glittering twin towers in the distance and shed a tear or two for the immense blessing of being placed on this spot on earth, the wonderful view, the gift of life, the joy of seeing my children grow into responsible adults, the wonderful sister and her family who have been my rock, the untrue friends I have shed through my challenges and the true ones who have stuck with me like super glue. What more can anyone ask.

Forty Six is another milestone I set for myself. I await its coming with apprehension, unlike the anticipation I felt upon approaching 18 or 21 or even 40.

Having said that, there are many lessons that I have learnt, particularly in the last 10 years or so. To mark my milestone, please allow me to share some of them with you.

1 What happens to you now, happened first in the past between your two ears
What and who you are now is what you thought about yourself. Therefore, be careful with what you think. If you think life will treat you well, then it will. Similarly if you think life will give you crap, and so it shall be.
Life Is...and then you tell your story

2. Every hardship and disappointment never really is that
It is merely a prelude to great gifts and blessings. You just need to change that perception you have between your two ears. Change your thoughts and your life will careful, it may turn to the worse, depending on what thought you entertain in your heads. When my home was foreclosed and I couldn't get any help from anywhere, even to obtain the papers to sell off the house, I thought my world was going to come to an end. I had no where to go, and it wasn't just me I had to worry about, I had 7 others, 2 of them still not even of schooling age. But it was merely a prelude for me to start a brand new life. Leaving everything behind to start everything afresh. I would not have the courage to do so if that didn't happen. My littlest son have some memory of the old house..but this neighbourhood is definitely more condusive for my boys to grow in. Less sniggering, no neighbours who stop their children from playing with mine. Sometimes God just have to shove change down our throats.

3. We can plan so much, but in the end, we can only surrender and take the next step NOW.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow isn't here yet, we only have the NOW. The next moment is the NOW in the next moment. The NOw is the only time where we can act, and that we truly have. We may drop dead in the next minute, and all the plans for the next year, the next day, the next minute even the next second will left undone. So cherish the NOW. The actions we take NOW create a ripple that can last forever, so tell the people you love, you love them now. Ask for forgiveness NOW. Act NOW. Save your money, but make sure you do not deprive yourself of what you can enjoy NOW.
When stuck in a rut..just take the next best step NOW, that is all we can do. Surrender the rest to the Almighty, and think well of Him.

4. God doesn't mind if we express our anger to Him, because He loves transparency and despises hypocrisy
This may be controversial, but this has been one of the most important belief that has helped me through the roughest patch. I used to just accept all the 'hardships' I felt He threw at me. Fearing the sin of blasphemy, I kept everything in, accepting and accepting.. while having to remain stoic in front of the children and the people at large (conditioning from my upbringing), until one day, I couldn't take it anymore. Not having a partner or anyone I can express my anger towards, and having only God to express my feelings, I closed my bedroom door and just exploded. I told HIm that He practices favouritism and lamented and yelled asking Him why He chose me to dump all the crappy stuff on. Why me?, I screamed. YOu are Powerful and Great and You control everything..Why do you love to Hurt me? Can't you find someone better?..What have I done so wrong, I would ask. Why do You allow them to keep hurting me and you let them live their lives in peace and happiness. And they walk this earth with so much pride, stomping on poor ants like me? Afterwards I was consumed with immense guilt and fear. Surely I will be punished..a terrible disaster will surely fall on my head, or my children's..such a vindictive God they portrayed Him to be. Surprisingly,after the explosion I felt a sense of serenity and peace beyond explanation engulfing me. I sincerely felt His love..inspite of my terrible misbehaviour that I was driven to tears. No words can really describe my feelings, but I can synthesise it as Him telling me, I am Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent. I KNow even if you didn't tell Me. I love Honesty and deplore Hypocrisy..I AM Love You can talk to Me..I am near..I listen. I felt His Magnanimity and when I say In the Name of God the Most Gracious the most Merciful I say it with a completely different sense of understanding. Such is the God I believe in and He is the God of all, regardless of what name He is referred to.

5. You are not just the protagonist in this story you are living, you are also the co-writer.
You are given choices, to choose the role you want to play and the path you wish to take each time you come to a crossroad. Each path has its own outcomes. YOu can only move forward.
For example; you live a miserable life, where you are abused emotionally. You have a choice to stay or get out. If you stay, your basic financial and physical needs is taken care of. If you leave you will have to start from scratch, at an advanced age with children in tow, not one or two but many. YOu know that on the one hand, to keep your sanity and to remain dignified you need to get out, but getting out may also backfire, in you losing your dignity because you will be plagued with the status of a divorcee and will be sliding down the social hierarchy. But again this is where your perception comes into play. If you do decide to get out, you can perceive it as a disaster where you will be a downtrodden single mother, can choose to perceive it as an adventure. A fun rollercoaster ride, a mystery thriller on a journey to a better place, if you get there. If you don't you shall enjoy the ride, laughing at yourself, or you can choose to cry and lament on every bump along the way. Enjoy the ride this in turn will instill values of strength and integrity in the children who see you seize the reins from the oppressor, defying the social norm to do what you believe is right.

6. Make sure you have a cheerleader
The rollercoaster ride, the mystery thriller you have decided to write may have its twists and turns that will overwhelm you. There will be points where you will want to give up and just throw in the towel. YOur cheerleader will be the one to set your vision and perceptions straight again. Turn the negatives into positives and sometime punch the naysayers in the nose. Your cheerleader will grab you by the neck if need be, and shove you back into the ring with words of wisdom and cheer you on. I find that in my sister. How blessed I am. I wouldn't have made it this far without her help.

But the most important lesson I have learned is
7. At the core of everyone, is pure goodness
No matter how badly people treat you or how evil they may seem on the outset..every single one of us are good at the core. We came into this world like a clean sheet of paper. It is the conditioning we receive from our surrounding that turn us into what we are. Like Don Miguel Ruiz stated in his philosophy The Four Agreements - Do not take anything personally. Who are we to judge others anyway. None of us are perfect. And it is said that you attract like people to you, so if you face people who have hurt you in any way, the first thing you need to check is yourself. The people placed before you is a reflection of you. What a wonderful way to live and to stop judging others. This belief has helped me retract all those nasty curses I uttered, particularly while driving. On good days..I can even stop myself from cursing.

That is what I have to offer on my 46th birthday, Mr Moon, if I have to go today, I have something to leave behind after all, at least to my children (if they even bother to read).


mekyam said...

this is plenty, sis. and plenty wonderful.

having read it, i also consider myself your inheritor. may i share this?

Anonymous said...

Nice Post. This post helped me in my college assignment. Thnaks Alot

ummi said...

Thank you so much for reading and the compliments, sis. I will be most honoured if you would share it. :)

ummi said...

Thank you Anon for reading. I am glad that my ramblings was able to help you in your assignment. All the best, dear

Gita Madhu said...

Blessed to read this, to know you and your family.

abang said...

This post made my eyes moist. Especially that part about the previous house. You are really something: your courage and fortitude, living life without carrying the bitterness from being wronged. These are what that separates you from many many others.

ummi said...

Tq en. Abang and Gita, my sister.
Sis the feeling is undoubtedly mutual. Love ya

Anonymous said...

I hope, it's OK

ummi said...

What is ok again?