Taking Risks

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I have taken many risks. I can’t remember when I became a risk-taker or for that matter when fear started to encroach upon my horizon and make me hesitant… I lost my sense-of self for a time… taking risks.  I became so bogged down in the consequences of my blind risk-taking, taking risks I didn’t even realise were such until retrospect as it characteristically does, stepped in with its hindsight-wisdom. I took risks and I paid the price of impulsivity and I lost my way for a time… I lost my way whilst being unaware of where it was I was going… I didn’t know the location, the destination was unknown and the purpose of the journey was hidden from me… veiled… unclear. I lost my way and became entrenched in the things one becomes entrenched in… and they broke me down… living ‘where they wild things are’. I finally learned to mistrust, after brightly claiming I wasn’t given to such, and became enmeshed in things that eroded my vitality… and left me crumbling… I tried to grasp that glowing ember; that fast extinguishing flame; that flickering pilot inside me, that recognised that I have a soul… that which responded to the right words… hidden within the mindy-riddle of his broken world. I ultimately crumbled and began to come apart, my tortured mind began to bear the brunt of my battered heart. I took a risk. I fled, I wandered, I tried to hold fast to who I’d been, I strove to go forward to who they said I should have been. I struck out into the unknown, casting off into the abyss…

I took the risk that He would catch me and… He did.

inna lillahi wa inna lilayhi raji’un

I came to Islam after a lifetime of instability, uncertainty and ‘searching’… sometimes my searching was conscious, if not active or decided, and sometimes it was nothing more than a longing for connection; leading me in all but the desirable direction.

I wandered and strayed, had adventures and made mistakes. I experienced the exhilaration of reckless abandon; and the consequences of it. I tasted betrayal and abandonment, all manner of pain and confusion and resiliently ‘bounced back’ each time, seemingly no closer to the truth

As the flutters quickened within I became more certain in my being than I had ever been that there was an Originator… a Creator… this ‘happening’… this miracle unfolding… was too incredible to all have been by chance… all credit, as due, I attributed to One beyond my comprehension… suffice to say I was convinced of ‘something’, yet I didn’t truly seek to understand.

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Seashell

They told us if we held it to our ear we would hear the sea and I did. I heard its familiar rush of ebb and flow across the pebble-beach, casting down and pulling back. It startled me and left me awestruck; not having thought such a claim could prove true. There, in that pearly shell daubed with peachy tones, sitting unassumingly on the nature-table, lay a whole ocean, invisible and mysterious.

I placed it against my ear and immersed myself in the waves of sound and the wonder of it. It soothed and captivated me. My small hands relished the unfamiliar texture of its surface; rough exterior and silky smooth within. My eyes drank in its exquisite colour palette and my young mind marveled at  its extraordinary form and nature; struggling to reconcile its other-worldliness with this place and time. It had a quality that set it in some other place I could not imagine, like a clue to some other world or existence. Within it lay the sea.

Homecoming

img_0088Homecoming; not as straightforward as I envisioned, no seamless re-entry to this place… to this existence, which I once fled. Fleeting glimpses of the person I was prior to setting out give me reassurance and hope…

The grey waves break on the grey shore and the skyline, shrouded by grey mist, makes this familiar place seem otherworldly…The journey itself seems surreal; dreamlike, and the people encountered seem remote; almost as remote as those to whom I now return… return, changed yet somewhere deep inside no different.

The sense of reawakening is strong, overwhelming at times… a reconnection to the innate self, lost sight of along the way… seeing myself in those friends of old, in long-buried memories that startle me out of the blue; unsure of how to reconcile that self I once was, transformed if not entirely altered… the need to reconnect with that youthful authenticity and to somehow merge with it without jeopardizing who I have become…

The simplicity of the past and the lessons of the journey and the metamorphosis have left me akin to two beings; one naïve, uncertain, optimistic and seeking something unknown, one a traveller wearied by the road yet restless still.

Return… the meeting of an old self and old friends… grown serious.

The struggle to reconnect with who I was, without slipping back into how it was… when I longed for adventure… the disquiet and the lurking fear of settling and mediocrity pushing me on… propelling me forwards inwardly, striving to amalgamate these disparate aspects of self… striving for wholeness and to be centered… to let go… to relinquish the heavy excess baggage and retain the truths I now know… not to be swept back into the tide of mindless, complacent conformity.

Risk

Serially lost; part 1… ‘blossoms a rose in the deeps of my heart’

Among the most profound and beautiful experiences of my life are the first time I felt my son move inside me and his arrival in the world… I didn’t really have a preconceived idea about how the birth would be. Thanks to my very effective socialisation I never doubted there would be degrees of discomfort but I felt I could ‘handle’ it and was ardently against any ‘unnecessary’ medical interference. I had the (#hindsight) benefit of a mother who’d read Dr Gantly-Reid and Bettelheim; was a La Leche League advocate and refused to use the word ‘pain’ when I asked her whether it would ‘hurt’. I remember I found all this intensely annoying at the time. I had my own ideas about how I would do things; left Gantly-Reid on the Shelf beside ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’ and ‘Breast is Best’ and told my mother in no uncertain terms that I would not be attending any LLL meetings… thought I knew it all. Second time round I often took those yellow-leafed books from the shelves and looked through them… even long after I knew I wouldn’t need them. Continue reading

Unlocking the mind…

It’s glorious here… sun shining, sky hazy and practically cloudless, waves lapping the shore… and I’ve unexpectedly found myself with that ever-elusive-to-parents ‘5 minutes peace’. Realistically I have about an hour, maybe a little more, before Ummi duty resumes… so I have taken myself to the beach and here I am, kid-free and coffee in hand, enjoying the rare luxury of ‘watching the world go by’ as I breathe in the perfect sea breeze.
There’s something about the ocean.

I’m caught somewhere between the lightness of it all and a niggling guilt that I chose not to go with the children today… yet despite this… and the bank holiday busyness of the place it is still so. utterly. peaceful… and I relax into absentmindedly people-watching. Continue reading

Who I am…

‘Who I am’ used to be fixed and delineated clearly; this was not just simply in my ‘mind’ but in my being and in my very certain sense-of-self. This ‘self’ was not a fluid entity, it did not ebb and flow and it was non-negotiable. I was centred and anchored, if always yearning for something out of sight and reach and comprehension. Life has tested what I thought I knew about myself; the complexity and the ‘black and white’, and has left me floundering to understand where I fit in this universal state of ‘being’; which parts are ‘genuinely’ me and how in fact to ‘be’. There are times my head swims; when it seems I have no ‘core’ no ‘central being’ and that I might be washed away or drown. This leaves me almost constantly uneasy and is torturous at times. The longing for clarity, stability and tranquility of ‘mind’ won’t be denied and often sends me spiraling into a vertigo-inducing state. Trying to be the person you think you ought to be can be counterproductive but hard to move away from. Just as you think you’re making progress a glimpse of ‘self’ will flit by the eye-of-your-mind derailing you, reminding you there’s somebody already there and that you are grasping at straws.  Continue reading