Rays of Splendour

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What would you do if you found out you have only 6 months left to live?

These past few months, I have experienced situations whereby either my friends, acquaintance, or friend of a family knew of someone who was recently diagnosed with a life threatening illness. The recent one was when a friend shared how her grandmother had been diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer last week and has approximately 6 months left to live.

Hearing all these news is like a stark reminder for me of the sure reality of life – death.

It is also a wake up call for me to live life more purposefully. While living a purposeful existence has been something I actively strive daily, I do admit that there were times when I got sucked in by the hustle and bustle of work or simply lulled by life’s daily routine that I forgot to do just that – to live meaningfully.

But you see, the thing with life is that no one expects themselves to be struck with a life threatening illness. We may recognize at the back of our minds that we may not be healthy forever however hearing news of yourself actually being ill – and to be told that you do not have long to live – would still be shocking nonetheless.

I was thinking to myself – what if I’m in that position? What if I were to find out someday that the sharp pain at my abdomen which I experienced from time to time is actually a tell-tale sign of something more harmful and would decimate my lifespan? Or what if that fainting spell I had recently was not due to a low sugar level but an indication of the body physically weakening and heading towards death?

Morbid thoughts but isn’t that how life is? Just how many people throughout history went through the route of suddenly finding out that the physical ailments they perceived to be nothing turned out to be the reason for their deaths? Not one or two but millions of them in this world has gone through that.

So back to this question: What would you do if you found out you have 6 months left to live? I found that like a pandora box, this single question opened up a host of other questions for me.

Would you continue working till you die? Would that work which had once consumed more than 12 hours of your daily existence still matter?

Would you argue less? Would winning that argument and having the last say be something you still seek?

Would you reach out more to those who matter? Would you be kinder to them? Would you spend more time with them?

Would you be less stubborn?

Would you be more forgiving?

Would you write a will?

Would you travel more?

Would you still buy that top, pants, mobile phone or whatever you have been planning to buy with next month’s pay cheque?

Would you sleep less in order to utilize all the waking hours you have left?

Would you seek treatment all the way and fight for a chance at living?

Would you accept that you only have 6 months left?

Would you be more present in worship? Would you be more present to life in general?

Would you smile more?

Would you laugh more?

Would you love more?

And… Would you live more?

Would you know how to live more?

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It started with 2 Euros

Ever since a trip I made to Italy about two years back, I found myself developing a thing for bracelets/bangles.

During that trip, I bought my first bracelet in Venice. It cost only 2 Euros and frankly speaking, I don’t even know why I bought it.

That 2 Euros bracelet somehow sealed the deal. For when I returned from Italy and after wearing that bracelet out for the first time, I saw how a simple accessory can transform the look of an outfit from plain (my default look) to one that looks more presentable. Since then, my collection of bracelets/bangles have slowly increased.

Then recently, I find myself having a thing for these statement pieces. The fact that it adds a twinge of difference from the normal bracelets/bangles aside, the words on these statement pieces serve as a reminder for me (especially the one on “Be Present”!) on some of the values I hold dear as the daily life unfurl.

Not for the first time, I’m thinking this: At the end of the day once we’ve stripped away the layers of complexities (for example, your definition of success, how human relationships should pan out, the notion of Power, etc) that we’ve somehow created for ourselves when it comes to Life, Life essentially has some core tenets attached to it. Tenets that, if we remember, will anchor us firmly even through the toughest of times.

For me at the present stage in my life, these core tenets to Life are gratitude, being present in Life and to recognize that Allah is central to every aspect of Life.

In the latter, I find that during those quiet times when I ruminate about the blessings He has given me – both good and bad – I realize that I am nothing and have not created anything. Everything happened and was created because He allows it to. Even the ibadah. It’s humbling, truly, to realize that the prayer you made was only possible because He had made you remember that it’s time to pray, willed it in your heart that you want to pray, and also to create the conditions that enabled the prayer to be completed. MasyaAllah.

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