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1/100 days of productivity, 29.08.16

Doing some literature notes in my Moleskine notebook. (Yes, I love tiny handwriting)

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Shoutout to all my babes out there kicking ass with their studies. You’re doing so well and benefiting your future tremendously. Keep it up; all of you should be so proud of yourselves! 💌

Allaah Subḥānahu wa Ta'āla does not raise an Imām (leader) in the Religion until they are patient (with harm, trials) and certain upon the truth. […] Patience is a cure to not falling into desires (Shaḥawāṭ). As for certainty of the truth, then it is a cure to not falling into doubts (Shubuḥāṭ).

Imām Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal [d.241Ḥ] is, to this day, referred to as the Imām of Ahl as-Sunnah (and will continue to be in every era) because he faced these trials and overcame them with patience and certainty.

—  Paraphrased from Shaikh Khālid aḍ-Ḍufāirī in Expl. of the Ḥadīth of al-Irbāḍ Ibn Sārriyah, Masjid Bin Bāz (25/11/1437Ḥ)
Los Angeles.

I spent yesterday thinking, in part, about our ability to change. As adults, are we beholden to the people we believe ourselves to be – or whoever our family, friends, lovers, and enemies believe us to be – or can we transform into something else entirely by willing it so? Wake up one morning and manifest anew, see and interact with the world in a different way than the day before, and let our attachments to the past drop from wherever they sit in the middle of our chest, clutching to vital organs with tenacity. Is this possible, and if so, cleanly, without the weight of the world’s disbelief in transformation crushing it before it becomes muscle memory?

I have many behaviors that I don’t want. They are similar to friends I don’t recall meeting but are always around, and no longer desire further contact. Sometimes we get wasted and it’s an OK time, a feeling of nostalgia that I equate with safety, even as they’re pushing me to jump off rooftops into shallow pools. They are assholes, and my mind understands this in a way that feels like clarity from the confines of a hospital bed. I have high hopes for getting clean from these fuckers, but when the broken bones heal and they call again, I’m in because this time? This time it’s going to be different. And that’s the thing about repeating shit – it’s this beautiful nightmare, the kind that gets stronger with every play.

I don’t write much about my understanding of love and romantic relationships, mostly because I believe myself to be a failure at both, and have done damage to others and myself. I’ve refused to fully commit to my partners even when in the relationship; I’ve triangulated in crushes and friends as buffers to intimacy, rationalizing that they are necessary because there is no one perfect relationship; I’ve been a serial monogamist of the kill-the-relationship-eventually variety. It is fair to say I want closeness, but not the kind that I can’t walk away from when it ends. And it does end, because I will it so. True closeness – the vulnerability is the key – has not been for me, and instead I hold myself in the ephemeral purgatory of neither fully attached nor fully separated. I could explain why I’ve done this, the details of an interiority I’ve tried to disguise, but it doesn’t matter to anyone but me, insofar as shitty things are shitty, and explanations are poor substitutes for sincere apologies.

(As I write and read this, it is an ugly confession. The ugly ones are important to say out-loud, I think.)

I met a nice person a year ago. I took the relationship suit out of the closet again and wore it proudly, and did the things that normal people do: I believed in its potential. I tried to change to a better version of myself, one that had understanding and control of her emotional milieu. I gave it effort. And then I did what I always do, which is to see that certain things I needed in my life weren’t being met, and therefore pushed the nice person away. I flirted terribly, I fell in and out of love with others, I crushed, I lusted, I swore that the only way I could survive a relationship was if it was open or didn’t exist at all. I rationalized, I worried, I let the idea that I am fundamentally a broken person who cannot be in a monogamous, long term relationship take such firm hold that I almost believed it was true. I asked people for help, in the hopes they would confirm that I was a manifestation of all the terrible things that have happened to me, have been said to me, have been thought about me. The only thing I did right was to keep our agreed upon boundaries intact, and to tell my partner all this, in real time, to spill the disaster that is me everywhere, to provide him with the ability to leave, to hate me, to see me for the pile of trash I’ve always known myself to be. Perhaps because this relationship is still young, he stuck it out.

And then I changed. One night, in desert heat and damaged neurons, I figured it out. Saw the future as unwritten, perhaps, realized I might be worthy of this extraordinary person in my own way, perhaps, if I changed. I woke up different than the day before, and every day since has been a continuation of this new paradigm. The vulnerability, the commitment, the realization that nothing lasts unless you believe in it as the electricity of your cells – it wasn’t here because I didn’t believe in it, and then it was because I did. I wasn’t here and then I was.

I am now playing catch-up as best I know. I can’t be sorry enough, to the time I spent confused and distant. The crushes are gone and I’ve stopped falling for everyone I meet. I am present, focused, in love, entirely enmeshed in this one novel connection. He is the most interesting and loving person I have met, and I am committed to honoring this with my best self, to writing this new book.

And what is left of the old one? The other side of change, I suppose. I haven’t been able to let go of the regret and guilt at not changing sooner, the gutting pain of knowing I hurt people. I have so many apologies I cannot give away. And I am terrified that if I can’t make amends with my past its power will overwhelm. But maybe it will do the opposite? Act as scars that I can point to when the terror becomes too great, reminders that I am different, that I made it to the other side? That we are only moving forward, and we are all capable of a different self?

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✨ aug 30 - rewriting some physics notes ✨