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“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful...and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”—Zadie Smith, from the novel, On Beauty.
I am writing this note after typing this list. It is a list for me. After writing this out, I am so angry. I have known these things for months and I have settled for less than happiness and less than I deserve.
- I could never be “American first.”
- He resents my walking because of his chronic pain.
- In 10 months of long distance, I sent him countless things through the mail. He sent me nothing.
- We do not share the same taste in movies, jokes, or politics.
- He calls my interest in his life interrogation because he has never experienced it.
- So often, military enlistment is hereditary. Could I support a child of mine to fight - and possibly die - for a country I do not love?
- He does not understand small acts of affection. I live for small acts of affection for the people I care about.
- He is quick to anger.
- When I tell him something is important to me, he makes no effort to respond/react accordingly.
- He never apologizes.
- Caring for someone is not a chore and I felt like one to him.
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”—Margaret Atwood from the novella, The Penelopiad.
How to love without attachment, without being harmed by loving others?
Breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Send the energy to your heart to make this intention powerful. Visualize everyone you know and everything you love on a big stage in front of you. Thank them for showing you things and being here. And then savior your connection to it all at once. Everyone you’ve ever known. In order to experience them again, new and refreshed.
Slice the connections that you felt. You let go of your old story about them and let them become infinite, the infinite soul they always were.
To sincerely better oneself, one needs to get to know who they are. Be conscious of yourself when around family, friends, and strangers. Observe your behavior, your level of etiquette in interaction with others, the character you display, and make the intention to improve upon shortcomings. Use everyday as an opportunity to learn, grow, and change, Inshaa’ Allah. Never over magnify setbacks, rather use them to propel yourself toward betterment.