This image brings a smile to my face because of the contrast between the huge billboard ad and the man walking underneath it. On one hand, the ad tells you to wake up and save by buying a queen size bed with 2 free bedside table for around 1300 USD (or 4800 AED), while on the other hand, the man is awake (and could be actually saving – if not making money) by carrying cheap mattresses over his head.
Now I am not fully aware of the purpose of this man’s mattresses. Maybe he just bought them and he is taking them home (without having to spend money on the transportation). Or maybe he is taking them somewhere to sell. Whatever the purpose, I find it an interesting lesson about how there are some people in life who talk the talk without walking the walk, and others who walk the walk without talking the talk.
The other day I ran out of milk and had to take my coffee black. I remembered one of my friends who never understood those who drank their coffee with milk because milk masked the true taste of coffee. So I ventured and took a sip of my black coffee.
And I winced.
It was bitter.
But by the third sip my tongue had gotten used to it, and it made me think about how sometimes in life, a major crisis might hit us hard and blindside us, yet with time we learn to adapt the way my tongue adapted to the bitter black coffee. Such major crises – like the sudden loss of a job or the separation from a loved one – present us with an opportunity to stand back, take stock of the important things in our lives, fix our priorities, return to the drawing board and starting over from scratch. But more importantly such crises help reveal our true essence; who we really are. So when the clouds lift, we might realize that these events have helped us grow in ways we never imagined was positive, and it is only then that we learn to appreciate them.
As for the black coffee, it served its purpose well by inspiring this post, and after that I simply went back to having my coffee with milk. Some habits die hard.
So the other day, I was watching the cars passing by on the main street under our house – a strange pastime of mine – and I saw a guy riding a bicycle on the highway. Cars kept on appearing from view and disappearing as they rounded the corner, and the guy was cycling at a very leisurely pace. I wondered how he felt moving at a snail’s pace in the dust comparison with cars passing by at 100 kph at least.
But then again, can you compare the legpower of an average male with the horsepower of an engine? This guy made me see that sometimes in life, we really need to stop comparing ourselves to the people around us. Some may be prettier, smarter, have better jobs, or more friends, and we might be inclined to do preposterous things in an attempt to compete with them. But we need to remember that each one of us has a unique set of talents and qualities that makes us who we are.
Some might claim that comparing ourselves with others can be quite motivating, and it could be true to some extent, but at some point or another, frustration begins to set in, because wherever you are in life, someone will always be in a better position, and for every ounce of motivation we might get, we risk the chance of getting a pound of frustration, helplessness and worse of all, ingratitude and envy.
So sometimes it’s best for someone to make an inventory of their strengths and weaknesses, work hard to compete with himself, and be better than they were yesterday.
Hadeeth of the Day
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : “انظروا إلى من هو أسفل منكم. ولا تنظروا إلى من هو فوقكم؛ فهو أجدر أن لا تَزْدروا نعمة الله عليكم” متفق عليه.
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Look at those who are lower than you and do not look at those who are higher than you. That is more likely to prevent you underestimating the blessing of Allah on you.” [Agreed upon]
Hadeeth translation source: http://www.sunnipath.com/library/Hadith/H0004P0055.aspx
When I shared “Stuck In The Rut?!” over a year ago, it’s funny how many of my friends thought that the note was inspired by what’s happening in their lives at the moment, because it seems many of us are on the same boat, and symbolically speaking, I guess it’s sinking. I think the main reason why we are on the same boat is actually because at our stage of our lives, we’re a bit too restless. We haven’t been anchored yet by the default set of responsibilities to worry about. And since we haven’t been anchored, we’re still floating, and thus, are susceptible to sinking. Makes sense, right?
But the catch is that there’s a ray of hope there…we’re still floating even if at times we feel like we’re sinking, we haven’t reached the ocean bed yet. And how do I know that? Because we’re still thinking about how to improve ourselves, our lives and the lives of those around us. Actually, it’s such a blessing alhamdullilah that we are still thinking in the first place. Because some people have given up on that too.
Trust me, one of the worse feelings in the world is the feeling of “getting stuck”. I know people who are stuck in their various stages of life, and it sucks. Getting stuck means no progress. It means having this desire-to move ahead-burst against your chest and yet feeling like you’re being held back because you’re trying to push a wall. Ever tried to push a wall? You can go try it once you’re done reading. What about running on a treadmill in hopes of reaching a place which is a mile away? Yes, you’re getting tired, yes, you’re burning calories and losing weight. But are you going anywhere in the literal sense, or are you still in the same place? That’s what getting stuck means.
And yet to some people – the ones who have sunk for so long that they no longer know what being afloat feels like- getting stuck has become a deadend that adds nothing but misery in their lives. And they accept it, and fail to think about it anymore, because that’s just life. Some people are stuck in miserable marriages, and others are stuck in miserable jobs.
And the reasons? Children, money, the status quo, appearances…whatever you want. And it’s not like I support people who break up a “miserable” marriage just because it’s “miserable”, but I do not support those who don’t do anything to change their misery, and sit instead, and accept their sunken state because …oh well…just because. Does it matter why?
They’re too tired to think about it anyway.
Yes, I know we need to live in the “Now” timeframe, and discipline ourselves not to get carried away with our thoughts. But we shouldn’t also be one of those people who live on auto-pilot, and stop thinking altogether, filling our heads instead with ‘thoughts’ about the next paycheck, the next entertaining event to watch, the next football match….And I guess the test that our thoughts must pass is how much of it is turned into useful action that can help us help humanity in general and the Muslim Ummah in specific.