Run, Pause, Think – & Zoom Off Again

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The thought of changing your daily lifestyle, or letting go of something major, at the expense of an established comfort zone, can be a little unsettling.

And one day, you wake up and the thought is there.

It is then that it suddenly hits you how you are so busy in your routines and efforts to make the world go round, that you never ponder to think if this is really where you want to be. Is this really what I want to do? Am I investing my energies in the best possible manner? Am I spending enough time with those who are closest to me? Am I doing this thing right?

Your whole energy appears to be connected to developing the community in one way or another (and الحمد لله for that). But… wait… this community is comprised of individuals, including yourself…

Have you ever considered before developing others, if you are also developing yourself?

Sometimes you have to pause.

I am going to talk of someone, whom I will keep anonymous. (She has given me permission to write about her and even proof-read this.)

One fine morning, she pressed the Pause button.

This woman has been involved in so many activities in her community for as long as she can recall, seeming to be everywhere at once. She has recently confessed to me that she is exhausted.

Not exhausted with helping others – but exhausted with her own broken promises to help her own self flourish and grow.

I’ve been wanting to do W, X, Y, Z for the past several years,” she says, “but there never seems to be ‘enough time’. I am like too much peanut butter spread on too little bread.

When prodded, she further explains, “There are interests I wish to pursue at a greater level than the mediocre level that I am at. But never any time for the extra courses. There are knowledges I wish to delve into, languages I want to learn, a little more than the mediocre surface I’ve merely skimmed across. But never any time to empty my mind of worries connected to fulfilling so many little obligations that become a mountain, and absorb a new world. There are skills I have long been aware I am lacking, that I only know the very basics of. But never any time for practicing them.

This thinking puzzled me initially. Is the problem really that there is “never any time”? Plenty of people manage to do a gazillion things at once. In fact, many people are doing as much as she is, times five!

At this, she seems a little embarrassed – but says straight-up, honestly: “Yes, I am aware. In fact, this is why I’ve kept prolonging my goals… because I keep comparing myself to others, and thinking I can manage exactly as they do. And maybe I could, if I was as self-disciplined. But at this stage of my life, I am not so. I hate to say it, and it’s shameful to admit it, but despite how highly people regard me, I personally feel very average simply for lack of attempting to excel, and this makes me weak. There, I said it. I am weak, and cannot focus on a million things at once without the result being that I’m mediocre in a million things and not very good in any one field.

Then again, a weak person just needs training to be strong. But that training takes time.

If I can cut down doing some of the things I am doing, things that anyone else can do instead, as good (or even better!) than I… this will allow me to re-direct my extra time and energy into what will strengthen me, both academically and emotionally. Very soon again, I will resume being as busy and “involved” as I ever was, except perhaps with even more zeal now that I’d feel a little bit more myself…

colors of life

This made me consider it. We’re in a culture that is fast-paced and expects us to keep meaningfulness in what we do, doing it faster… and she’s gotten tired of running this race. She needs a time-out to reconsider where her track is leading.

Yeah. I get it. Don’t we all need our time-outs?

May God keep her, you & all of us steadfast on His path, and may He remind us to continually keep checking our intentions again and again.

The moral of the story is: it’s OK to pause; It’s OK to confront one’s flaws, just as long as one is ready to begin fixing them.

Above all, it’s OK not to run, and simply slow down

(for the sake of soon zooming off much faster in the right direction إنشاء الله).

Finally, never forget that every success and every so-called failure, happens through the will of God.

When you find yourself running… Pause. Think. And zoom off again.

And Allah knows Best.

A.S.

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