Tag Archives: happiness

Back to the starting point

Do you ever have those moments where everything that could go wrong, goes wrong? Where you’re trying so hard to understand what role you had to play in this destruction, but you can’t seem to find any. Where the sky breaks apart, and you’re just standing there wondering why things are happening the way they are. The land beneath your steps shakes like an earthquake, and you plunge straight down in the core of the earth.

Everything you stood up for comes tumbling down. All the things you did in life replay like a movie, and you’re counting every single memory wondering if you ever did anything wrong to deserve this. And you find so many flaws and loopholes in this small life of yours that you accept everything that is happening because you deserve it. Because you’re an inconvenience in a world that is supposed to be perfect. Because you’re a blemish in the face of beauty.

That’s how I feel right now. Like a huge chunk of my chest is missing, and I don’t know where it is. Like there’s a hole in my heart, and all the happiness is leaking through; I can’t seem to keep it in no matter how hard I try.

Like water, contentment is flowing through the gaps in between my fingers and no matter how hard I try to grasp it, I can’t seem to hold it in. All I have are empty palms, and I keep looking at them in hopes that they’ll miraculously be filled. But they never are.

It’s this odd feeling of emptiness that takes away so much energy. Like you’re trying to create happiness from whatever source you can, but it’s time-consuming and it’s hard. It’s like forcing a lump of coal to transform into a diamond. It’s like forcing the sun to come out at night.

It’s hard fighting this emptiness, so you give in to this feeling of despair because the war you’re fighting isn’t worth the damage. But the most ironic thing is that no matter how hard you try to avoid being injured, you end up with wounds so deep that no salve can cure them. The war you’re trying to avoid is forcibly kissing you on the lips.

I guess life has a way of dragging you back to the starting point. Maybe because the road you were taking wasn’t yours to take. Maybe the victory you dreamt of wasn’t in your destiny. Maybe your whole direction was wrong, and life is trying to point you to a path that has your name written on it.

But we’re stubborn. We refuse to see what we can’t comprehend. Sometimes the only thing we can do is have faith. Have hope. Believe. Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you run after it, the more it’ll fly away. Just stay still. Be calm, and happiness will come to you, and it will settle down in between your palms on its own.

Picture from Pexels

Understanding circumstances

When I was young, and we lived in Pakistan, Mama would have to drive us everywhere because my dad was living here in the US.

Women driving in Pakistan isn’t common, especially not in the villages. Mama would wrap her head and bury her face beneath a scarf whenever she drove to our village. People would stare and question, but it never bothered her or me or any of my siblings. I always felt a sense of pride, knowing that out of all the women in our village, Mama was the only woman who knew how to drive. Many others learned after her.

She was scared at first, and things haven’t always gone the way we wanted them to. There was a lot of crying. A lot of confusion. A lot of breaking down. But things always worked out at the end because we made them work out.

One of the worst incidents we faced was when we had a flat tire. It was Friday and like every other weekend, we were going to our village. While driving on the eroded road with potholes, Mama lost balance, and the car swirled to the side almost hitting a tree, but she managed to press the brakes on time. Everything was okay, but we had a flat tire. Mama parked the car on the side of the road, and we waited for my dad’s cousin to come get us.

We sat inside the car with the AC on full blast. The sun was at its zenith, and the temperature was scorching to a hundred degrees. It was like an oven out there. The whole time we waited I cursed out everyone I could. Blaming God, Mama, Dad, everyone I could for every unfortunate event that was happening around us. Why did things have to happen the way they did? Did God not like me? Was I that unimportant for Him?

My dad’s cousin showed up an hour later and took us to a garage, which was nothing more than a shed with a few car parts scattered around.

One of the mechanics made us come out of the car. We had to sit on plastic chairs that were broken. The dust from the oncoming cars was flaring up my nostrils, and I hated the fumes coming out of the cars. The sun above our heads was striking us with its intense heat. My clothes were soaked in sweat. I felt the drops form in my scalp and slowly slither down my cheeks onto my clothes. Every inch of me was sticky like I had bathed in honey mixed with salt water.

We had been through much worse, but in that instance, every other memory seemed like a blessing.

Dad’s cousin bought us juice to drink, maybe he didn’t want us to pass out. Mama felt uncomfortable knowing that she’d have to drive the car, and she hated driving when people were watching. Especially men.

While I sat in the plastic chair with a broken arm, wondering why things just couldn’t work out, I saw a little kid, who was probably ten or eleven rush forward with a smile as bright as the sun on his face. He walked to the car with a metal toolbox clenched in his hand. Kneeling next to the tire, he started unscrewing it. The other mechanic slowly lifted the car with a floor jack. Within minutes the kid pulled the tire and replaced it with a new one.

For a moment his eyes met mine, and I saw a different kind of innocence that was filled with happiness. We were both the same age, yet everything about us was different. His shalwar kameez was greasy and it had different colored patches covering the holes in all the odd places. His hair was filled with oil, and I could smell the fumes five feet away. His face was layered in mud, but the smile tugging at his lips was beyond my understanding. His life was much worse than mine, yet he was happy. There was no greed in him. No envy. No hatred. Just simplicity.

Why?

Why was it that even with nothing in his hands, beside the smell of grease, he was satisfied with everything? Did he not know how miserable his life was, or was I the one who saw it that way? Maybe in order for me to understand his happiness, I needed his heart. The heat, the sun, the smell, the grease, nothing seemed to bother him. There was a glint in his eyes. It was the same one I lost years ago.

But that day I learned something. I learned that you won’t stop suffering just because you’ve suffered. Life won’t all of a sudden be grateful to you because it put you through trials. I never got to know that kids name, or his story, but every time life gets me down I think of him and his smile, and I don’t know why but relief floods my entire body.

Everything happens for a reason, and I guess the puncturing of the tire, us going to the worn-out-garage, was so I could understand that life isn’t fair to everyone. We just have to make the best out of the worst. We can’t dodge the bricks life throws at us, but we can use them to create a shield. Maybe build a castle.

That kid is probably in his twenties now. Maybe things got better for him, or maybe they got worse. I don’t know, and I guess I won’t ever find out. But he sketched his mark on me, in the form of a five-second smile that I won’t ever forget.

Image from Pixel

The kiss of failure!

Isn’t it weird how sometimes you work so hard on something, just to be kissed by failure at the end? And it’s not the soft, subtle kiss you find in those happy ever afters. It’s one of those kisses that makes your heart sink somewhere near your kidneys. The one that makes you doubt your very existence. It’s the kind of kiss that haunts you for the rest of your life.

The kiss of failure never comes alone. It comes with self-hatred, doubt, desperation, and despair. It slowly creeps on you from the back and jumps on you when you least expect it. But you fall so hard that the earth stops rotating on its axis and I’m sure the sound is so loud that the angels up in heaven can hear it too. I’m sure they’ve gotten used to it by now.

Failure isn’t the only thing that bothers me. The after effects are just as worse; like an earthquake. When it comes it rips and tears everything apart and the after-shocks are just as worse. They break what’s already broken.

It’s like your mind becomes your greatest enemy and the world transforms into a very dark place. The beautiful masks people wear come dripping off and you get to see their real faces and they’re not pretty. You understand your fall but along with that, you understand what value people around you have. You understand that the mountain you were climbing had faults of its own. I’m not saying that failure is a bad thing, but it isn’t something that gives you comfort. If there’s one thing I’ve learned that is- the mountains you want to climb won’t get smaller. The paths you want to voyage won’t get prettier. The journeys you want to travel won’t get easier. And the fall definitely won’t hurt less. But the real question is how badly do you want it? How badly are you willing to fail? To fall? To crash? To burn? And then to reform? If your will to reach the peak empowers all other wills, then even failure will bow down to you.

It’s hard, very hard to swim in an ocean that’s pulling you down, and yet here you are, trying to climb a mountain you can’t even see. But if you give in, the waves will drown you. If you fight, then maybe, just maybe the waves will give up and they’ll push you to the shore.

There was once a man in Halacin who wanted to become an artist, but his parents forced him to become a doctor because according to them an artist had no value. “Artists don’t get paid much. How will you live? How will you ever be happy?” the parents argued. The man wanted to please his parents, so he left his passion and went to med school. There he studied hard, but no matter how much effort he put into his work, he would always fail. His joy vanished, and his heart did not align with his head. Every second that passed by pulled him toward art, but the man did not give in.

Because the man was doing so poorly in med-school, he was kicked out. Having no other option, the man burned his books and set sail to begin his journey as an artist. His parents disowned him and because of that the man had to take odd jobs to support himself. He worked as a mechanic, a dishwasher, a servant, but he did not complain. He was happy because for the first time he was listening to that voice in the back of his head.

The man wandered for years, but he couldn’t find a destination. Every journey he would travel would lead him to more turns. The man, tired of being on the road for so long, and aimlessly walking around, became tired and decided to give up and go back to his parents.

His parents were willing to accept him on one condition; that he follow the journey they had chosen for him. The man did as he was told, but he was unhappy, and he failed miserably. He did not understand what life had in store for him, but he knew one thing that failing while dreaming didn’t hurt as bad as failing without any dreams. The man, even with failure constantly kissing him, understood one thing, that failure was inevitable and so was suffering. No matter what journey he chose he was bound to fail, but he could choose what type of failure he was willing to endure. And in that instance when he did not know which journey to choose, he understood that he was willing to fail again and again, on a journey that made him happy. He was willing to suffer on a journey without a destination because it made him value himself. It taught him that failure is just as important as success.

He told his parents that he was willing to suffer, but of his own accord. His parents, furious with him, kicked him out again. The journey his parents had seen for him was easy, but it didn’t make him happy. Yes, he had a clean bed and warm food, but he lacked the ambition to move forward. He lacked the desire to do something.

The man left his parents and aimlessly voyaged again. He faced many setbacks and there were times when he wanted to give up, but he always remembered the reason why he held on for so long. When the man finally climbed the mountain of despair and hopelessness, he saw victory, wearing a blue cape, waiting for him on the peak of the mountain.

“Took you long enough,” victory scowled. The man was baffled. He was mad, angry, and annoyed. He was furious at victory. He couldn’t hold in his tears anymore, so he wailed like a small child.

“Why?” The man cried. “I spent years searching for you. Did you not pity me at all?”

Victory smiled at the man and said, “Every time you took a step toward me, I took two steps toward you and every time you stopped, I stopped with you. Every time you doubted me I doubted you. We’re linked. Don’t you understand that you’ve made it here on the back of failure? It was your perseverance that bought me here, to you.”

I’m not saying that your path will be easy. It won’t. But comparing your journey to someone else’s won’t make things better. Failure is a part of life. Maybe instead of fighting it, we should learn to embrace it. Kiss it back with such passion that victory gets jealous. Learn, and move on. But remember, every fall of yours is bringing victory closer to you.