8 Days to 28: Chasing Life

8 days until I celebrate the 28th anniversary of the day I was born. I feel good about 28. I feel I'm becoming more humane, responsible and conscientious. In ways unlike before, I'm ready to love and commit to myself, to love Him and to love others. So here goes 8 days of sharing lessons learned, anecdotes never revealed before (not in this space, at least) and artefacts or pieces that have inspired and uplifted me recently and/or over the years. 


I chose to entitle this post 'Chasing Life' because I think many can relate to the chase and struggle of keeping up with a life that is filled with surprises and changes that are sometimes pleasant and sometimes not so pleasant. I also enjoy watching the ABC drama series Chasing Life, a television show about a young journalist who discovers she has leukaemia during the start of a promising career, falls in love, and continues to search for and redefine the meaning her identity and life while juggling her role as a daughter, sister,  friend, lover and writer.  

I know it's easier to keep ourselves busy and distracted than to consciously and conscientiously live. I know because I still struggle with it. It's confronting to take a good hard look at ourselves, our journey and our destination. But it is also very necessary because it isn't enough for us to look at our facades everyday when we look into the mirror. 

Introspection wasn't on my to-do list but I think God puts us into situations where we have no choice but to do what we have to do in order to grow. After months, I realised that I was always chasing or worrying about something transient such as personal happiness and personal pleasure. I began to understand that the key to all things transient and eternal was Him. 

I no longer want to chase life and what I mean by that is that I no longer want to be anxious about life and how it's going to turn out. Instead, I want to make plans but also be open to what He has in-store for me. I want to shape my life by discovering God (ilm at-tawheed) and His attributes in the way He has orchestrated the events of my life and the lives of those close to me. I'm learning to embrace the truth that this life isn't just about me or that it isn't about me at all because ultimately, what we do as individuals has an impact on others. We are all connected.

"If you value money, power, fame and good looks you are less likely to be happy whether you achieve them or not..." - Roko Belic, director of the documentary film Happy, via the TEDx Talk 'What I Learned While Making a Movie about Happinesss'

The most fulfilling thing I've ever done in my life is teach. I worked as a tutor (or teaching assistant as Americans say it) last trimester. Even though it was challenging and time-consuming, it was hands down the best thing I've ever done and I think it's because I value knowledge and primarily perceived teaching to be about developing someone else's intellect and character. Interestingly, I was initially mainly motivated to do it for the extra cash. 

The lesson is: We have a lot more to give than we believe. When I focused less on the selfish element of my job it brought me so much personal happiness. Ironically, not chasing personal happiness brought me personal happiness. Therefore, if you want a good life you need to work hard but you also need to have the right intentions. I will be honest, I am still learning how to do this but with whatever little progress I have made, my life has become so much more meaningful and my being so much peaceful when I stopped chasing all these transient things for selfish reasons. My life became less about what I could get but what I could give. And I believe as a result, transient things  now 'come' to me without me having to chase them because I no longer rely on them the way I now rely on God. I'm not saying I've stopped making an effort to have these things but I no longer feel anxious or I feel less anxious about having them or notAlhamdulillah, He always knows best what I need and when.

One of the biggest paradigm shifts I've had is that I also began increasing my focus on building happiness in the hereafter. As said in a previous post, death is the greatest sign that we weren't ultimately made for this world. With that I wish you and your loved ones nothing but happiness in this life and the hereafter (dunya wal-akhirah) and I urge you to find the time to watch this TEDx talk by Roko Belic because it opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on happiness.

This blog post series was inspired by Mark Gonzales (@ideasbygonzales) of wagebeauty.com who started his 40th birthday countdown by sharing a photo blog of reflections on his Instagram account last week. I view Gonzales as a kindred spirit and my brother in faith whose work not only compels me to be myself but to be the best version of myself.