“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

I am lovingly drinking my morning tea as I type this post… because I finally can! (ETA: I was when I first started writing this post, anyway)

I haven’t been able to do this for a month (well… there was a week in between where I did, but that’s a minor detail we don’t need to get into now).

Yesterday, was the first day of Eid-al-Fitr, one of two major Muslim holidays; this one commemorating the end of the month of fasting in Ramadan. Eid is technically a three-day holiday, but since Muslims living in the West typically don’t take three days off, we fit in three days’ worth of eating into one! What a way to celebrate a month of fasting, eh? ;)

As much as eating is a reality, Eid is also a time where everyone from the community comes together for a special prayer. After prayer, as part of the Prophetic Tradition, there is always a speech, or khutbah, that usually ties up the month together. Yesterday’s was probably one of the best Eid khutbahs I have heard in my life. I haven’t felt chills like that since my time at UChicago. It was delivered by Hazem Bata, who’s a pretty awesome dude in his own right. As socially relevant as the speech was, it also touched on Islamic history and lessons, as well. Perfecto! That’s the kind of khutbah that speaks to my soul. But what really struck a chord with me was its very timely personal resonance: that some times things don’t work out as planned, but, as is a common Islamic teaching, God is the best of planners. Using the examples of Salman Al-Farisi and Muhammad Ali (yes, the boxer) to illustrate this beautiful lesson, I was reminded that I was a recipient of the Ramadan Miracle I was hoping and praying for – just not in the way I had originally envisioned it.

Yet again I was reminded that setbacks can be openings to beautiful things. Of course, my struggles pale in comparison to the struggles of these two men. But the stories of those who came before us are meant to serve as examples for us living now, regardless of the age or time we live in.

For the past two years especially, I’ve been racking my head trying to make sense of the apparently ill-thought decisions I have made. I do not and have never regretted these particular decisions, but I couldn’t help but feel they weren’t in line with the societal expectations of what I ought to do to live a successful life. I mean, who in their right mind gets a Master’s in Religious Studies and decides to not (immediately ;) continue with a PhD? (FYI: Thoughts of a PhD will never truly die).

I pined and hoped that things would somehow all come together. And though I am still young and hope to have many years ahead of me, this past week I have begun to see my own opening from the many setbacks I’ve experienced this past year. Thinking of Salman Al-Farisi’s and Muhammad Ali’s legacy gives me hope that the best is yet to come, God willing. It’s not foolish to think this way, I might add. It’s a part of having faith. Being a believer means knowing that God is Good and wants good for us all.

P.S. WRT to my title, I am pleased to share this quote is not originally from the ’90s one-hit wonder band, Semisonic, but the Roman philosopher, Seneca. How apropos however that “Closing Time,” the song that features this quote was played on the radio yesterday! OMG! OMG! OMG!

Call it a poem, call it a lazy attempt at a blog post, call it what you will.

Where does this desire – nay, compulsion – for constant renewal come from?

Why do I have all this energy to start projects, but then lose interest after a few months or even days?

Is this my fate, is it in my disposition to start this, start that, take on this, take on that – but then feel so inundated by everything that the only solution is to retreat from it all?

I used to think I was afraid of commitment.

I’ve changed my mind about so many things.

What career I wanted.

The type of man I wanted to marry.

The kind of woman I want to be.

As to the first, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do – but then again, I thought the same all those other times, as well.

As to the second, I got what I wanted for the most part (yay), but also got what I needed (which is not always fun, let me tell ya).

As to the third, it’s constantly in flux.

Right now, the kind of woman I’d like to be is the kind of woman who NEVER has headaches.

***

Perhaps the source of this deluge is not all those things, but me.

Visiting the Past/Waiting on the Edge

Four and a half months to the day. Almost exactly.

I had assumed it was going to be a one-time thing.

Once is more than plenty; but to have this happen twice in my life?

I don’t believe in coincidences. But I do believe we get the messages we need in forms that are best suited to our nature.

Do you ever wonder, when you have sudden jolts in your own life, that it is God desperately trying to tell you something? God does not have to be desperate. But we human beings can be so blind.

I, for one, am not very good at picking up on subtle hints.

I know God was trying to tell me something the first time.

I needed that first time. That first time saved my life. It was what allowed me to finally leave a job that had messed with my head and sense of well-being. It was what gave me the gall to finally apply to my dream school for graduate studies, thus ushering the phase of my life that I now am most fond and proud of.

Many factors went into making June 13, 2015, Commencement Day, a reality – most obviously, the financial and physical support from my immediate family.

But I know what set it all in motion was that jolt from God (and of course, God’s consistent and constant reinforcement – but that’s not what this post is about)

This week I believe I received my second jolt.

But what is God telling me this time?

Is it really just “don’t stress” like my family has been telling me my entire life? Really? It’s gotta be something more than that!

I know I can’t force a meaning out of this (or anything for that matter). I will only find meaning in whatever happens in retrospect, like with all things in life. But I definitely do want to be more intentional about the things I do and am responsible for. Am I unknowingly drinking haterade? Do I really need to suffix that compliment with a “but”? Is refusing to acknowledge a Facebook friend’s birthday because she didn’t acknowledge mine really a beef worth having? I’m obviously having a lot of fun with this list.

What are you going to do differently now?

It’s a question Mr. Rafia posed to me a few days ago; and it’s worth repeating. As much as I hate to admit, that boy sure has a way of bringing me down to earth, reminding me that there always is a spiritual provenance.

There surely was the first time.

I might not get all the answers this time when I want them. Or even if I do, I might not like what I hear. But I have a feeling that I will be getting something.

I just have to be willing to listen.

And then it hits ya…

I alluded to the quarter-life+5-years crisis I had earlier this week in my previous post. If you didn’t catch that, I don’t blame you. You, too, were swept away by the cows. Say what you will about Chick-Fil-A’s politics, but they have one EXCELLENT marketing team.

And while I’ve pretty much been viewing that 30-second video over and over again since Chick-Fil-A responded to my message (they actually responded to my message, guys!), I would be remiss if I did not address that elephant (or shall I say, cow?) in the room, especially since I made such a big deal about turning 30.

I’ve written about jealousy and feelings of inadequacy before, but there was something about waking up on the first weekday morning after turning 30 (and by then, my small world had already moved on) that was just prime for experiencing those feelings again.

It came out of nowhere. I was excited about turning 30. I’ve been looking forward to it for as long as I can remember.

But then it hit me. I am 30 years old. What the heck am I doing with my life?

I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on my non-linear life this past week. Though on most days, I rather like that I can say I never followed the mold that was expected of me, I have my none-too-proud moments where, after having a conversation with someone who’s outwardly more accomplished than myself, I start feeling bad about the decisions I’ve made or did not make.

Do I regret not taking the LSAT? Hale no. I would have been miserable in law school and would have hated being a lawyer. Do I regret not flailing a little longer to see if academia was right for me? No. I don’t want to teach and other than that one time in 2011, I’ve never had a desire to teach. And I have a pretty good feeling that even if I did manage to get myself a PhD, I’d find myself in this same position. For my achievements mean nothing to me after I’ve actually achieved them.

As a person with artistic and visionary proclivities, I can’t be bound to do things that are merely respectable on the surface, not unless I actually have an interest in those things. I have to do what feels right within.

I’ve allowed myself to believe that it was a lack of confidence that stopped me short of my goals, but perhaps it was the ability to say ‘no’ when things weren’t right for me. That should confidence-boosting, right?

The reason why I think I keep finding myself in this position is because despite my innate sense of wanting to do what is right for me, I still seek validation from the world. I want my cake and I wanna eat it too, darn it!

Never has there been a more apt metaphor to describe my life.

But if I allow outwardly validation to be my guiding force, I will never be content. I have to ask myself: What is more important? Being at peace with the decisions I have made and finding wisdom in the life that I have OR always feeling that I am never enough?

Because “enough” is not a feeling you get after achieving a goal; it is a mindset that you have while working towards one, whatever goal that may be.

Is there a silver lining? Con Law is relevant in my life again

I’m not a political/news junkie by any means. I’m often that one person in a room full of people whose response goes along the lines of, “Really? I had no idea!” My husband likes to make fun of my dramatic response, almost like that of a failed actress trying one last audition before she gives up her dreams of being on Broadway.

But the events of this past weekend have turned me into, well, everyone else in the 21st century. It’s not just the sentiments I angrily wrote about in my last past, which you can read here if you have not already, it’s also the fact that Constitutional Law, i.e Con Law as I and other wonks call it, is in the news again.

You might be thinking, “What? Since when have you been a constitutional law enthusiast?” Well, before I was on my current track of “I don’t know what I am doing,” I wanted to be a lawyer, more specifically, a judge. This was before I worked at a law office and had only my law classes in undergrad and my girlhood dreams to guide me. Con Law I and II by far remain my favouritest classes ever, well, other than my Philosophy and Religion classes. I loved it so much that I even served as an unpaid TA for the class a year after I graduated.

I loved learning the personalities of the Supreme Court justices that we studied and how they would use the law to advance their personal ideologies. It sounds wrong in theory, but it was so fun studying it. It’s very gosh-darn clever the way lawyers’ minds work – alas, I was not clever enough to follow in the justices’ footsteps, but whenever I hear “violation of the establishment class” or “due process,” it’s like music to my geeky/wonky ears.

I’m still angry about everything and finding out this morning that a mosque in Quebec City, CANADA has been attacked and that Muslims in PRAYER were killed, I’m angrier still.

Usually at this point, disgust and ennui lead me inward, but this time, I’m even more invested than ever. If this reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, man, it will be a showdown. If you don’t know anything about SCOTUS history (and if you care about American politics), you gotta read up on that stuff. It’s fascinating. Beginning with John Marshall pretty much saying, “Yeah Congress can make laws, but it’s the Judiciary that decides what those laws mean. So, eff you!” all the way up to recent court cases, it’s in the courts where real lasting change is made. Of course, I may be biased.

I do hope the conservative justices have a spine, unlike so many of our congressmen and women. Of course, there is still one vacant seat and we’ll see how things go this week, as Trump is expected to name his pick for the open seat soon. One thing is for certain, it ain’t politics as usual.