Leap of Faith


This is the tale of a trip down memory lane which makes me nostalgic and proud and less lost sometimes…

Completely calm, I stood straight, with my toes as close to the edge as possible and surveyed the lake below. It twinkled blue and calm back at me in the evening sun. I will do the counting myself, I told the instructor. Just keep your legs as straight as possible, he replied. I crossed my arms in an ‘X’, counted in my head and jumped.

Easy peasy, right?

Looking back, I wonder how and where I got the courage to go through with it…

The view from the edge/top

The view from the edge/top

I jumped off a 60+ foot cliff into the lake below. While:

  1. Having a fear of heights (I don’t like vertigo)
  2. Along with a major phobia of large water bodies (what if there is a shark in there?!)
  3. Also, having practically no training in swimming.
  4. And, only wearing a measly life jacket.

Not kidding.

Oh, and twenty minutes ago, one of the members of our group apparently jumped wrong, injured her back and was paralyzed for quite a few months afterwards.

Gulp.

(Of course, we only got to know about this part much later. At that time, we only knew that she couldn’t move.)

I remember sitting there on the cliff, my girls around me, waiting for our turn, thinking out loud, singing a bit. E asked me: Are we doing this?

I remember I was calm and humming the Strings’ classic Sur Kiye Yeh Pahaar (it was just too appropriate) as I answered.

I have come all the way here to do this. That we have just been up a huge mountain and then down a cave – which was incidentally full of bat shit…! So, yes! We are going to do this!

And that’s exactly what I did.

It was only when I was in the water that I panicked, feeling the weight of all those ten seconds (maybe less) that it took to come to the surface. Spluttering and gasping, and with the aid of our great group guides, I hauled myself up to the safety of the boat, opened my eyes and only then realized how BIG the cliff really was.

Yikes! Did I just jump off a 60+ foot cliff into a lake and managed not to drown?!

And that's the view from the boat

And that’s the view from the boat

I sat there, wet and shivering. Watching as my friends’ and other group members took their turns. And all I could think of was the jump and the plunge and the exhilaration I felt after doing something that was generally very scary.

These days, I sometimes remember that moment: how I was so sure that nothing would go wrong. I was afraid, yes, but not enough to stop me… Where did this courage come from? Do I still have that in me?

Whether or not I do, since that trip a couple of years ago, I know that I have a great example in front of me that, (especially when a self pep talk seems necessary) illustrates the following message:

  1. Let go of your fear.
  2. Jump off the cliff.
  3. Take a leap of faith.
  4. You’ll only know if it is worth it once you do it.

Just gotta know which cliff to dive off!

Golden Words


Presenting, with some dramatization, golden words of advice from a friend that I must remember:

The reason you feel overwhelmed now is because, in the past, you felt as if only bad things came your way. But fate had something much better planned for you. Now, all the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle are falling into place and it’s almost solved. And now, you can envision what is coming ahead, unlike before. It is only this positivity that is overwhelming because you’re not used to it.

If you’re worried about whether you’ve made the right decision, or whether whatever you had in mind was better, then we are, at the end of the day, a product of our choices. And we always have to make a choice. No one can do all things at all times. Hence, you give up one thing to gain another.

And at the end of the day, you should be happy about it all.

THANK YOU, friend. You know who you are!

Not Even A Pla-


What are you doing with your life? What do you intend to do with your life? What are your plans? What are your aims? Where do you see yourself in five years? Why are you doing this and not that? Why would you want to do that? Why don’t you do this? Aren’t you wasting time? What are you looking for?

Like Rachel in the first season of Friends, I don’t have any beans.

If I did, I wouldn’t be sitting here. Feeling floopy. If I had a plan, I would have let you in on the secret. Better yet, I would be out there “doing” it and making life un-floopy.

For now, all I know is that I don’t know. What or how or when or where or why or why not – nothing! I just have ideas, mixed in with lots of vagueness and indecision and doubts and questions. I just know that I’m ordinary, your below-average Joe; a nameless, faceless avatar of a nobody.

   

Or, so far anyway.

Dear Friend


Dear S,

Here’s the letter that  I should have “written”…

I just counted. I’ve known you for around twelve years now. Half our lives. Feels like forever, though.

When I look back to how we became friends, I would have to give a lot of credit to fate. Your birthday came at the perfect time. And if you hadn’t fallen ill and required my help in catching up, we might not have jump-started this friendship.

You became a part of my life at a time when it wasn’t at its best. When I had just been handed some new challenges and things weren’t easy. But of course you didn’t know that. Yet, in your own special way, you made it better. And easier.

Hence, in retrospect, I’m very grateful for deciding not to change my section, even if the first reason was that I’d rather have Mrs. Wallace as my English teacher.

I’m sure you remember Mrs. Wallace. She isn’t an easy person to forget and the main reason isn’t that she gave us both a hard time. She just made sure that even twelve years later (and more, hopefully), we’d still be friends.

I can’t believe that in about a week, you will be embarking on a new phase in your life. That you’d be married soon and going far, far away. Or that you’re the first one of us to bite the dust. That we’ve finally reached this point in our lives. That you’d go from a Ms. to a Mrs.

It’s only an addition of an “r”, I suppose but I still can’t wrap my head around it. Because I still feel like we’re two awkward teenagers just plowing through our lives…

Being loud. Being obnoxious. Talking for hours over the phone after spending the whole day together at school. Knowing each and every detail of how we spent the day. Knowing every extended member of each other’s families. Exchanging notes during lecture. Stopping at the canteen for samosas on the way to transporting class books from the basement to the top floor. Visiting your dad for junk-food money. Being the victim of teacher politics and still holding strong. Eating mountains of that strawberry toffee that I can’t remember the name of. Arguing over stupid things. Crying at the end of the Murree trip together. Making up for everything with a simple hug. Random walk to Masoom’s every other day. Studying over the phone with your brother.

There’s so so much more! Even after we left school and weren’t together everyday, you were there for me.

But most of all, what I remember is how you made me a better person. How you helped me communicate better and open up to people. How I tried so many new things with you around.

I don’t know how you put up with this presumptuous nerd all these years. But maybe, it’s because I was your presumptuous nerd.

Because no one else would hold my cold, dead hand during lecture to try to warm it up and make me feel less shivery.

I less than 3 you, S!

Yours,

Today and always…

My Year In Review


It’s that time again.

The time for review and reflection. The time to look back, at all the good and the bad, and “resolve” to do better…

For me, only in retrospect though, 2012 was a good year; better than 2011 in many ways.

I am still naive in many regards. I still let my hot head rule my words. I still wear my heart on my sleeve. I still worry too much and over-think everything.

Despite everything, I feel I have grown. Both up and out of my shell. A bit.

2012 was the year in which I managed to perform a very essential duty due a Muslim. I rarely blog about religion – thoughts, beliefs, opinions, practices, etc – but it was both a time with family and with God that I cherish. This was one experience that I won’t ever forget in my entire life, and I pray to God that there isn’t a point in my remaining life that this happens. Though it wasn’t easy, if I could go back, I would do it all over again.

The year also marked important career decisions. I once again tasted the thrill – and hardships! – of job search and the application & interview process. Now, I’ve finally settled down at (my current) work, quitting one internship and an earlier job in the course of the last twelve months. Having gotten the hang of operations, there are many moments where I really enjoy my “hidden” power and influence. Overall, I am just really thankful that all these opportunities did come my way.

In this regard, there are also lots of new people who have come my way. Some really nice ones. And some old ones have secured an even more permanent position in my (scarred) heart. Their presence through the best and lowest of times, their patience through my blubbering, and their ability to give me perspective is highly appreciated.

A shout-out to finally acquiring a smart phone (though still not smart enough to use it, it turns out) and applications like Whatsapp & Viber.

There was only a normal amount of reading and a minimal amount of writing, except here on the blog. Maybe 2013 would be the lucky year?

I did find some new favorite bands and musicians though: Mumford & Sons, Florence & the Machine and Of Monsters & Men. And it is just a coincidence that all of these have words starting with ‘M’. Promise!

At the same time, 2012 was also the year when I had my first major accident, after having a driving career of seven years. Mostly, my own fault. It was scary and I learned how fear makes a person scream. Yet, I was once again very ‘lucky’ since I wasn’t hurt and only the car was damaged. And that I didn’t have any passengers. Phew!

2012, in retrospect, in one word: lucky.

Cheers to that and hoping that this one would be a good one as well!

Dream Scream


I opened my mouth to scream, both as a warning and in fear but nothing came out.

It was fun for a while but then the scene changed. Drastically. My friend was in danger and there seemed to be nothing I could do about it. Except open my mouth to scream, but nothing would come out.

It was a hoarse whisper at most. No one could hear me. Trying to talk didn’t work. My heart was pounding in my throat and didn’t let me talk. My friend was in danger and I couldn’t even say a word.

At the same time, I was painfully aware that it was only a dream. Only a dream, I told my dream-self. It is only a dream.

Yet the fear was real; very real and very solid. All I managed to do was to run about. I couldn’t scream to call anyone’s attention to my friend’s plight. Or mine…

I did eventually wake up. I just couldn’t scream.

Mind Your Business


It’s other people’s ‘job’ to know they need you. All you need to know what is your due. And try to keep an upper hand. 

A simple philosophy. Yet, how do you do that? How do you keep an “upper hand”?

That’s not too complicated either, according to one point of view. Only a spin on the mind over matter philosophy. The human brain is part of the human body. Hence, it is entirely in the human’s control. All a person needs to do is harness the power. 

The human brain might mostly have a mind of its own. But you only need to take control of it to start doing wonders! Even if only up to the level of not having a miserable day?

Hey, it’s a start!

Me Too!


I was there, too!

The first meeting. That really interesting conversation. A quick bite before class. Chilling at the end of the long day. The late-night walks. The inappropriate jokes. Cramming in the library. The non-study sessions. Pouring out your heart. Explaining all the things in your head, without giving too much away, and knowing we still got it. Complete randomness. The panic attacks. The gossip sessions. The staring into space. The heated arguments. Changing the world, one discussion at a time. And more…

Or maybe there’s a perfectly good reason why I’m the only one who remembers this: a case of falsememoriginitis.

Better go take my meds now.

Gems


Some days, a face is all the catharsis you need.

You barely feature in their life. You might not have seen each other in a really long time. Or been in touch properly. Or talked lately.

But none of that matters. It doesn’t matter that you meet for a couple of hours after a really long time. It doesn’t matter that you are in a group situation. It doesn’t matter what you do when you get together. It doesn’t matter what you talk about.

The fact that they are willing to see your face, spend some time with you, hold a conversation with you, not look or sound repulsed, laugh at your stupid jokes…

Well, it just proves that they are absolute gems, and without even being aware of the fact, they help you. And they make up for all the people who – to put it politely – don’t or for whom you just don’t seem to exist (anymore, suddenly).

A thousand friggin’ times over.

“So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light.”

~Ghosts That We Knew by Mumford & Sons

And you just know that it is going to be alright. It won’t be easy but it would be alright.

Advice On Advice


Today, I gave advice to a friend. Not the first time, either for dispensing advice or for advising this particular friend.

But it got me thinking. It was funny how coherent I sounded. And calm. Collected. So wise. Balanced. Logical. One thought flowed from the previous flawlessly. It all made perfect sense.

Stop thinking about the past. Move on. Stop obsessing over the past. Comparisons need to end. What has happened has happened. Don’t lose faith. Keep believing and you’ll get there. There will be a point in her life when none of this would matter. Stop wasting time and be more productive. Be strong and harness the power inside you.

And so on… (Damn. I should have recorded that phone call!)

Tooting my horn aside, I have to wonder: when did I get so coherent? Or calm or collected or wise or balanced or even logical for that matter? When did I start dishing out advice as if I had all of life and it’s difficult questions figured out?

Because I’m not and I haven’t!

Faced with any “trouble”, I would have exactly been the opposite of all these. The simplest of things, I over-think. Faced with a difficult situation, I easily lose sleep. I barely move on, remembering each and every detail and impression and what was said and what was not said. I obsess over things in the past. Comparisons never seem to end. I find it near impossible to let bygones be bygones. I lose faith easily, especially in myself. The one constant wish is for none of this to ever matter and yet, it does. I waste time rather than being efficient and focused and I give up. Very, very easily.

So why on earth am I trying to sound like I have all the answers? How on earth do I sound like I have all the answers?

I suspect it’s all about perspective.

Someone from the outside, a third person, telling you something that you almost always already know. Someone reaffirming what you already thought. Perhaps with a slightly different approach and in a slightly different way that gets the ball rolling. And helps you make that leap of faith that you were missing.

And of course, this is easier to do for someone else than for yourself. Hence, the whole calm, collected, wise and logical aspect.

But what we should remember is that everyone and anyone can give you good, practical advise. Everyone and anyone will give you good, practical advise. The only thought that counts, whether wrong or right, is your own.

Giving yourself a different perspective is one of the hardest things to do but that is the only kind that matters, at the end of the day.

My advice to you: the choice must always be yours.