There are so many things that we want from Life at any one point in time: to be happy, to be healthy, to be wealthy, to be satisfied, to be loved, to be successful, to make a difference…to be content. And yet, it seems that none of these things ever really come into our lives and stay. They’re like guests passing through; they come and then just when we think they’ll never leave, suddenly we wake up one fine morning and they’re gone. Or sometimes, we can sense them slowly slipping away and all we can do is watch helplessly because we don’t know how to stop them.
Having a presence on a social networks means that I often get a glimpse at the lives of other people I’m connected to and one of the things that often makes me wonder is how easily people flit from one moment to another. Perhaps this is simply a difference in character or personality, but emotion for me is something you feel and immerse yourself in, and the deeper an emotion, the greater the experience, the longer it takes to fully explore it and understand its impact in your life. Isn’t that why when something momentous happens, we pause to absorb / enjoy that time? Or why we tend to take a deep breath? Almost as if by slowing down the most basic, instinctive act of human existence, we are slowing down the passing of time and with it the passing of that experience.
So when I read the grandiose statements about how awesome a day was…day after day, I begin to wonder whether the word ‘awesome’ really means that or perhaps has replaced ‘great’ or ‘nice’ or other words that can be used to describe a normal day when good things happen.
If everything we do is now describable with an a string of superlatives, then where does the real stuff come in? How do you differentiate between a day on which you hang out with your friends over a coffee and a day in which you suddenly become that much more aware of the purpose of your life if you’ve already used up ‘amazing’, ‘awesomest’ , ‘fantastic’, ‘greatest’, ‘best’ and ‘magnificent’ for the former?
I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but I don’t really believe it’s possible to be 100% pure happy in this world. We can be happy about certain things and over certain events and about certain achievements, but how is it possible to be completely happy when there are so many things going wrong in the world? Hunger, oppression, torture, the murder of innocents, immorality, materialism…from the simplest to the most complex levels of society, there something going wrong somewhere every moment of every day. The knowledge of that is enough to temper the highest of spirits, I think. And this does not mean that we have to live in a state of depression or surround ourselves with negative energy. It simply means that we cannot afford to ever forget that we were born with a purpose and a responsibility – that of being the best we can in this world and helping to make it a better place in any way we can.
As Muslims, there is also always going to be that one thing missing in our lives, the one thing we live for actually: that final return Home. No matter how much fun a journey is or how beautiful the place we’re visiting is, without the prospect of going Home, without knowing when you’ll be returning, there is always a sense of being lost and displaced.
Perhaps some people may think I’m missing out on enjoying life or that I don’t have much to enjoy in it, but I don’t mind saying that I haven’t come across a day yet that I’d describe as ‘awesome’ or the ‘greatest’. I’ve had experiences that have filled me with joy and met many people who warmed my heart, I’ve had plenty of great days and nice times, but as each of them has slipped away into the past, I keep remembering that their passing is an indication that I am moving closer and closer to my Goal. After that thought comes the question: Am I ready? Have I prepared enough? Will I ever be able to prepare enough?
Without a concrete answer to that, how is it possible to have an ‘absolutely most fantastic day ever’ on this side of life?