Tonight I feel grounded. I am sitting at my windowsill overlooking the Sunken Garden and Pfeiffer Arch, taking in the essence of good company, food and the sharp breeze of this Ramadan evening, and I am so thankful. Grateful that I have had another day to exist and think, for my family and for my beautiful friends.
This past month has been quite a strange one, one where I have lived in abstractions in my head. I think I went into a relative hermitage of sorts, where the world became distasteful and the mundane reality of human suffering took centre stage of a play where the culmination of the final act is death. A bleak rabbit hole of existential dread has been where I have been these past weeks.
You’re half the world away
I’ve been lost, I’ve been found
But I don’t feel downHalf The World Away by AURORA ( a cover of an Oasis song)
However today opening my fast, in rather wonderful ambience of lanterns, massive bay windows and the moon, with a dear friend in our college hall I felt a semblance of solid tangible ‘life’ come back to me. Good food, Rooh Afza, deep chats and reflections with unicorn ice-cream cones that I bagged at the co-op just a few hours prior to iftar. These small details are so meaningful.
Making the decision of coming back to college really plagued me- and it comes back to haunt me every now and then. Returning at the end of last week was a move motivated I think primarily from a practical intent, because I really would like to pass my exams first time and at home doing work was an emotionally draining task. However I think also upon reflection that it was the relative stasis of the montonous routine of home uni that was dragging me down. I felt I needed a change of scenery to put it frankly. However this very thing made me feel guilty. I love my family and I know that my presence at home is very dear to them, so part of this decision of returning to college when I didn’t need to felt selfish. Whilst I grapple with these feelings I think I must remind myself that life really does go on, we must continue to move forward and struggle in our own unique ways as we progress. Simone Weil says to ‘always do what will cost you the most’, Sakine Cansiz highlighted the importance of her pursuit of struggle in her lifetime. Life will never be easy but we must remain grounded in our pursuit for truth.
You got your passion, you got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true (Oooh)
When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?Vienna by Billy Joel
The build up to the beginning of Ramadan, and starting fasting has taught me alot so far. This is the first year fasting away from home ( second year fasting at all) and it is all so new. Eating before sunrise prayer and opening the fast with my family over facetime was a far cry from us all sitting at the dinner table and catching up over the spread of goodies my mum had spent the day preparing. I can’t lie that I miss it, and I miss them- something I wouldn’t let myself acknowledge in me in first term. However life is a series of finite moments, and we need to make to most of them. I know that this term will be strange, there will be less people and online exams but that doesn’t make the moments I cultivate of any lesser value. The abundance of living in this stunning town, in this enchanting building are examples of the abundance God has given me and the first thing I should do is be grateful. Gratefulness is a miracle because it is an outlook which induces only a positive feedback cycle of wholesome emotions.
Being alone has given me a lot of time to think about life and my purpose in relation to religion. What tends to happen with me is that I become very anxious and feelings of spiritual inadequacy and hopelessness set in ( contributing to the existential bleakness I spoke of before). However, and I’m lucky to have such people in my life, talking things through has been a massive weight off my chest. I also have the exogenous life blood of poetry and literature, where people and their thoughts from the past comfort me knowing that I like them think about the spiritual value of my life. Its a journey, adventure, personal and universal that I am treading and I must always be on the look out for the beauty in that.
I’m getting tired now and have to wake up in a few hours to chug a ton of water, but I think to end I’ll share one final thought- that I’m experiencing a lot of growing pains, but in the words of a wise friend, I’ll look back in the future and see growth.
I want to pierce everything and penetrate as far down as possible. I want to reach the depths of the earth. My love is there, in the place where seeds grow green and roots reach one another, and creation perpetuates itself amidst decay.Forough Farrokhzad