Rays of Splendour

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Being positive is a blessing

I just completed a presentation this morning and I found myself giving a huge sigh of relief after that was done. As soon as I headed home, I did nothing but to literally just sleep.

It feels so good to be typing this with a clear and fresh mind. Those are something I have not felt in the past few days as I have been sleeping for about 2 hours nightly in my bid to clear some school-related stuff.

I was speaking to one of my classmates while walking home today who asked me what I intended to do now that my presentation was over. Her response to my answer when I told her that I wanted to catch up on sleep struck a chord in me. She said:

“Yes, you really need to catch up on sleep. Not good to be missing out on sleep you know. You will become very negative.”

To be specific, the last part of her response on how sleep deprivation can induce negative feelings and thoughts was the one that I could relate to very well.

Due to the lack of sleep in the past few days, it seemed like I’m living in an entirely different body. I am unsure of myself and my decisions in life. I see myself to be lacking in many aspects and am convinced that my presence does nothing to lift or be of benefit to the people in my life. I perceived things to be looking so bleak and have no chance of being completed or working out while at the same time, I had no desire to ensure things go right. I felt irritation or get unnecessarily worried over the slightest and minutest of things.

Suffice to say, never have I felt far removed from my normal self than I had been during the earlier part of the week and it’s all due to sleep. Of course it doesn’t help that not only was I sleep deprived but I was also having the time of the month in the past few days.

So, sleep deprived + monthly hormonal changes = magnified negativity

Honestly, it’s exhausting and saps a lot of your energy. It’s true when they say that negativity is connected to bad energy.

I’m comparing that with the present situation where I am feeling very well-rested and body’s back to the normal cycle. It’s a world of a difference. Being positive connects a person to good energy that enables them to embrace the world from a position of hope that things will be completed, it can work out, that you can do things and that your efforts to be a blessing to others will materialize into something.

If there is one thing that the conversation I had with the classmate as well as the experiences of the past few days had revealed to me, it’s that the state of being positive is one of the huge blessings in life that I tend to overlook.

See, we all pray for many things in life. Some of the things that we typically pray for is for God to grant us good health, to keep our loved ones safe, to be granted with infinite abundance in life and many more. But to ask God to grant us continued positivity in the way we embrace life? I had definitely overlooked that!

I end this entry with prayers that Allah grants goodness to me and my loved ones and that one of the goodness is the blessing of embracing life with a positive spirit. Amin.

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Not guaranteed a tomorrow

It’s been a pretty packed past few days. I liked the fact that my days have been filled with engagements as that make time passes by quickly and also, make me feel that I have not wasted all the time God has given me. Just yesterday I was reading an article online where the author stated the following: “All of us are not guaranteed a tomorrow.” That made me strengthen my resolve to use the present to the best that I can and in a way that is pleasing to Him. I always believe that the time we have is a responsibility given to us by God in order that we use it in His way and to be the best that we can be. It is this belief that drives me to seek knowledge and explore new experiences in order to push the boundaries of the self and to be opened to the ways that God is using the self to help His creations.

Going back to the article I mentioned earlier, the author had actually written the article in the context of appreciating all the time you have with your loved ones and to be precise, her exact line was “All of us are not guaranteed a tomorrow with someone we love.” That line struck a chord in me.

As I lay on my bed in the dark before turning in last night, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I felt lonely staying alone in the apartment which is vastly different from the people-filled and bustling-with-activities family apartment back home. In those few moments before sleep engulfed me, I found that I missed the people back home tremendously and the words I had read – how not all of us are guaranteed a tomorrow with someone we love – weighed on my mind.

In light of that, I found myself putting things into perspective.

Sometimes we let our egos or worries get in the way and that make us hesitate to tell someone we love that we love them, or to show them that we do. But truly when we do that, and to do it despite the distance that separates, we’re essentially placing our lower selves at a pedestal over this harsh reality in life – that is, we are not guaranteed a tomorrow with anyone.

Also, life is really too short to bear grudges and to hold on to any anger, resentment or negative feelings you have for another. Perhaps in some situation, those feelings are warranted and one has every right to have those feelings. However looking at life from a macro perspective, one realizes that those incidents which ignited the negative feelings towards another could probably make up just a small portion of your entire lifetime. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on them to the detriment of the self and your relationship with others. If today is going to be the last day you have with someone, would you then prefer to spend quality time with those who matter or to invest your attention on matters and feelings that distract you from the former?

I say this as a reminder to myself foremost than to others: Be in the present and appreciate fully the present for that is the only time we’re all guaranteed with.

And also, to tell those whom I love that I love them dearly.

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Things I think about before sleeping

You know those quiet moments when you’ve switched off the lights to your room, laid on the bed and closed your eyes and just awaiting for sleep to overtake you?

Lately, I found my mind taking me to the same thoughts over and over again. During those few seconds before sleep consumes me, my mind never failed to linger to either one or more of the following, depending on how fast I eventually fall asleep:

  • Was it just last month that I was in Singapore?
  • If only this bed I’m laying on is my bed at home
  • So after I sleep, I’ll be waking up to another day away from home?
  • 2 and 3/4 more semesters to go till home
  • What will I do when I am eventually home?
  • I don’t know when I’ll be able to fly back home. When will I get to go home?
  • Please Allah, grant me patience and strength to get through this
  • Funny how I can laugh and enjoy most of my time here but my heart isn’t entirely here
  • I miss seeing my parents’ and brothers’ faces
  • I miss my bffs and miss spending time with them
  • I miss Mr Winter Sonata and I miss spending time with him

It’s week 3 of school. Another 12 more weeks to go before winter break comes. I can do this, insyaAllah.

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Not made to live alone

Sometimes, all it takes is just the smallest of encounters for one to receive an epiphany.

Today, my epiphany was derived from exactly just that: the most minute of encounters. It’s so minute and takes the form of… Pasting some heat plaster to ease the muscle strain on my back.

It was a pretty time consuming task for me. As I’m doing it for myself and obviously as my eyes were not able to see where my hands (which was placed at the back) were positioned, I kept pasting the plaster wrongly and peeling it off. I knew which part of the back I wanted the plaster to be pasted but I was unable to do it accurately! The plaster became crumpled and I had to slowly straighten it back into place before attempting to paste it back on the spot I wanted it to be.

During those moments I couldn’t help thinking that if I had been back home, I’d have gotten either my brother or mom to paste it on for me. The whole process would be done within 3 seconds. However because I had to do it alone, I took almost 5 minutes to paste just that one plaster and even then, I’m still not able to put it at the exact spot where the muscle strain is!

The thought that Man is not made to live alone fleeted through my mind. No doubt that it is possible for Man to live alone however in its essence, we were never designed to lead a life of solitude. From all the way back in history to the time of our forefathers Adam and Eve, to the development of societies through time and right to the present, all of us need one another.

I recalled the time yesterday when my friend came over to visit. I welcomed so much the presence of another person in the apartment as someone whom I can communicate face-to-face with and simply, have the warmth of a fellow human being to interact with.

So for those of us who have someone living under the same roof with us, do appreciate their presence even if that particular arrangement itself is the cause for lots of unhappiness. Appreciate the people in your life, I say.

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Sunday at home

Told myself that I want to spend the Sunday at home no matter what and I managed to do just that, alhamdulillah.

A reason why I intend to stay at home today was because I felt like I had enough of being outside for now. The past few weeks (and this is inclusive of the time I was in Singapore), I have been out on an almost everyday basis. I just felt like I needed time away from being outside, amidst all those people and have the time to just do my stuff within the confines of my personal space.

I managed to clear two rounds of laundry, made some simple meal of breakfast, lunch and dinner for myself, read up on things online (I miss reading a book by the way but I’ve none with me right now) and thought about things.

One of the things that came across my mind was what kinda thesis I should be writing about and I realized… I really have no idea. The thesis for graduation has to be done in the fourth semester. I’m currently in my second semester of school and lots of people say that I still have time. However knowing myself, I’m aware that I need to have an inkling of at least the area I want to write my thesis on. at present, I’m not even sure which region in East Asia to focus my studies on.

Next thing I thought about was how to use my time more wisely here. I just don’t want to waste all the God-given time I’ve been blessed with so yes, I do seek to invest my time into useful pursuits.

I thought about money too. I do not have enough to last me for the year so yeah, I’m also looking for ways to multiply whatever I currently have. That journey has taken me to various options. A friend came over to my apartment this evening and she too happened to be in a situation where she sought to increase the money she has. That got the two of us to engage in a long conversation with possible avenues to work together to multiply our reserves. I don’t know whether we will end up doing whatever we discussed but yeah, it was truly a great experience to bounce ideas off each other.

Allright, that’s all for now. Something has caught my attention on Youtube. Seriously, why does my friend have to introduce these carpool karaoke videos to me so late at night when I have school the next day?!??

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“There’s a light that you give me when I’m in shadow, there’s a feeling within me, an everglow.”

I am sitting here in my room and trying to do my portion of a group task while listening to Coldplay’s Everglow. As the song progressed, my ears caught hold of some of the lyrics and I eventually halted my work as my senses finally comprehended the words that I just listened.

The song speaks of someone who lost a person he loves who has been a light in his life. He describes this person as someone who gives him an “everglow”.

Everglow. I feel this is a beautiful way of describing someone’s effect in your life.

As I relate it back to how I’m currently miles away from my loved ones and support system, I found myself being more acutely aware of the strength and effect that these people whom Allah has placed in my life have on me.

Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for the current acquaintances I made as well as the knowledge and new experiences gleaned while I’m in Seoul. Those knowledge and experiences had somehow fed some of the innate desire I had to see and learn more of Allah’s vast world. Additionally in their own little ways, the acquaintances I made along the way have also filled a small part of that huge void left by the people back home.

And yet during those moments when I received texts and calls from the people back home, my heart would leap with immense joy. That contact would ignite some warmth, happiness and positive energy in me that would last for the next few days to come. Like Coldplay describes it, they gave me an everglow.

I feel that this is one of the mercies of Allah –  out of the billions of people He has created on Earth, He blesses us by specifically choosing and placing individuals who inspire our soul and causes it to shine like none other can. Sometimes, that spark to our soul can be encapsulated in just one person. Sometimes, He places more than one person in our life for our soul to connect with.

Regardless, there will be at least that one soul whose presence and connection you share that would move, excite, rejuvenate and whose interaction with your inner self would be at a deeper and more compatible level than others. I also found that it is through this special connection that I derived some form of energy to embrace life with even more gratitude and also positivism to be the best that I can be. It is like through them, Allah is sending me a spiritual and psychological boost to enable me to work on being a better version of myself than I was previously.

The question is, do you recognize the existence of this everglow in your life?

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Ever learning and realizing new things about life

Several things that I’m made to realize in the past few weeks since I started living in Seoul.

Firstly, I realized how true my ustaz had been when he said the following:

“The test of your iman is when you’re alone and away from people.
What do you do when no one you know is around?”

As I began to realize that there are quite a number of Muslims here in Seoul and how some of them do not even come across as one unless they tell you they’re one, I began to see the truth in his words. I was thinking to myself how being alone hundreds of miles away, no one would know if: you were to miss your prayers, have that drink, eat non-halal food, engage in non-permissible relationships with the opposite sex, behave badly and basically… Do anything that counters to the Islamic principles and beliefs.

My ustaz’s words echoed through my mind. How true.

But then again, Allah knows. Your soul knows. It’s only this awareness that Allah is ever-seeing and knows all that I do, that it matters that I do things that keep my soul contented, and that I have a responsibility to my parents and all those people who matter to carry myself in a way that wouldn’t hurt them, that I constantly tell myself to hold tight to His rope.

And I pray that Allah protects me and keeps me away from things that causes me to fail His test of iman.

Secondly, I realized too how I have taken for granted the ease with which I can perform the congregational prayers back in Singapore. During those moments I sat on my prayer mat after I’m done with my prayers, I’m reminded of how much I miss doing the jemaah prayers. It’s been more than a month since I prayed in congregation and only now do I realized the nikmah in praying as a group.

It’s such a nikmah to be praying simultaneously with the other brothers and sisters in Islam, to hear the azan and iqamah live, to hear the recitation of the imam as he leads the prayer, to softly follow the recitation should it be from verses/surahs that you have memorized, to do so in the confines of the mosque whose serenity is unmatched… I miss the jemaah prayers a lot.

Therein lies the next realization I had: Your life – its entirety – is made up of small moments. For me, these are:

Congregational prayers.

Attending classes/lectures at the mosque or elsewhere.

Weekends in Bedok, Kembangan or Changi.

Hanging out at Arab Street after work.

Meetups at JEM.

Afternoon lunches at IMM or JP.

Breakfasts at Adam Road and Bukit Timah.

Sleeping on bus/MRT rides back to home.

Competing with the brother on who will get to sleep on bed for the night.

Waking up every morning and proceeding groggily to the parents’ room, then planting myself in between them for another 15 minutes of sleep before properly waking up.

I believe there are more but the point is, it is in the little things. Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that matter.

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The darker it is, the brighter they shine

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars”

I saw a notebook today with the aforementioned quote printed on its cover.

That reminded me of how pleasantly surprised I was a few days ago to see my room illuminated with stars as soon as I switched off the lights. Prior to that, I was feeling apprehensive at the thought of switching off the lights. I have never been a fan of darkness. It took me a long while (in fact, since evening started) before I managed to psyche myself up to switch off the lights.

When I eventually did it, it was to test waters. I had every intention to flip the switch back to ‘on’ within two seconds. But oh my, the pleasant surprise that greeted me as soon as I summoned the courage to switch off the lights.

There’s truth is that saying isn’t it? That is, only in the darkness can one see the stars.

This parallels life. Sometimes, we may feel like we’re in the throes of darkness but if we were to find the courage to look up to witness the beauty beyond the black canvas… Then that’s when you will notice the brightest stars shining in all its luminous glory. But most times we fail to see the beauty within the darkness.

So what’s the point of this entry? Nothing much other than to pen down that thought which crossed my mind earlier today as well as to blog an entry on the 1st of March, just for the record.

Yes, it’s March. One of my favourite months of the year not only because it’s my birthday month but also because this is the time when spring makes its first ascend in many parts of the world; a time when I feel that one gets to capture nature at one of its most resplendent moments.

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Of sincere giving and goodness

I love train and bus rides for the opportunities to either catch up on sleep, read, or simply let the mind wander to wherever it wants to. Sometimes, these wanderings lead me to reflect on things while sometimes, I would simply ponder upon matters that need my attention and how best to respond to them. When I say “matters”, I am not just referring to serious things like how to allocate my budget but also, things like what to eat as soon as the ride ends!

Today as I rode the train from Boon Lay to Paya Lebar, I chose to let the mind wander and the following poem seems to resonate with where my thoughts led to:

“Even after all this time the Sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me”. Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.
Hafiz Shirazi

At its core, this poem reflects the unlimited generosity and mercy of Allah swt. However at a personal level, I find his poem also speaks of my belief when it comes to love and relationships which ultimately influences the way I relate to the people around me. Beyond that and of utmost importance, I’m more attracted to the idea of selflessness and to give without expecting anything in return that the poem propagates.

To give of your generosity, your kindness, your possessions, your love, your empathy, your time. Basically, to give of yourself simply because you sincerely believe that the gift is much needed by the other and through that, something beautiful is created in the process.

One of the things that went through my mind which reminded me of this poem was in the way my parents interacted and encouraged me in the past few days. Sometimes I ask myself whether I can ever reciprocate all that they have done for me.

Lastly, I do also wonder whether I will ever be able to find it in me to give a part of myself so sincerely and create goodness as well as beauty for the receiver through that?

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Beauty of small moments

Short entry but something for the record, nonetheless.

These past five days spent mostly by myself, especially during those solo walks I took down the streets of Seoul, left me with ample room for thought.

Those thoughts led me to one of the biggest takeaways I had from this trip, and it is best summarized in the following:

Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments.
Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.
The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.

Source: http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/12/11/30-things-to-stop-doing-to-yourself/