Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Assalam alaikum wr wb!
Man, it’s been a wild year huh?
Early January this year, I went to a cousin’s engagement. On our way back to Colombo, my family’s car got hit by two buses. That’s right. Not one. TWO.
Isn’t that wild?
Alhamdulillah, everyone walked away from that accident.
I got a good knock on the head, though, which resulted in a dramatic swelling of my face as the blood from my head injury fell down into my eye sockets.
The effect my face had on people was hilarious. I scared children and made women cry.
I look back on that incident and I have to say, not only am I grateful, I am terrifically happy.
As odd as it sounds, we couldn’t have chosen better timing and a better location to have a disaster. Our entire family was on that same road home. From wherever they were, they all turned around and came back to aid my mom and dad. I can say with utmost certainty; there are far worse places to have a mild concussion.
I can’t remember much of the 12 hours or so after the accident and even in the weeks after, as my brain recuperated, my short term memory was a bit wonky. My big brother (who specializes in emergency medicine) said there’s nothing to worry about; I probably felt drowsy. Thinking back, waking up in the middle of conversations just adds to that hilarity of the situation.
But my parents were not that amused. They were fully conscious, terrified and anxious.
The capital-F Fear has lasted a bit too long. It’s been almost a year now. My father is still frightened to drive, thinking he fell asleep at the wheel that day. He tells me, “I’m too old to drive. I am too tired. I am too distracted. ” The Fear cripples him.
Why was I capital-H Happy? Why was he Afraid? Was it because I was unconscious? Was it because I was naive? Was it because I simply didn’t care?
Recently I have been quite fearful myself. A recent social engagement left me crabby and shaking.
I have been watching my ‘I am’ statements recently and found there is a shocking prevalence of a kind of self-smack talk. “I don’t like new people. I am not good with new people. I am not good with unfamiliar situations. I am a nervous person. I am a shy person.”
I thought of something else I’d learned recently.
Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. My father always said that. And I think I am fine.
I’ve heard this many times, but honestly it’s only made sense now.
These fearful thoughts have probably become my character. A photographer once told me she was surprised that I am a comedian because I was so timid.
“Like a mouse?” I thought at the time. I wasn’t angry; I was just sad that my Fear was so evident. Still I managed to have a kick-butt photo shoot.
On the morning of that social gathering, I sat very still and quiet and listened to my thoughts.
I was frightened of other people. I thought they would hurt me. I thought they would prey on my vulnerability. I thought they would bully me.
Good Lord, where did these horrid thoughts come from?
I’m not going to blame anyone else. I’m not going to blame some monolithic culture for branding a tiny South East Asian woman with stereotypical qualities.
Wherever they came from, they must be stopped. Because I don’t want to ‘become’ frightened. I don’t want my destiny to be shrinking away in the corners of rooms, waiting for someone to notice me and being scared when they do. Allah Subhaana Wa Ta’aala is my Protector and His world is too big and too beautiful Mashallah.
I’ve learned that my friend Fear doesn’t leave when asked. He doesn’t leave when yelled at. And he doesn’t budge, even if you tell him to go back where he came from.
I have started changing my thoughts consciously. I’ve started to turn “I am shy” to “I am hopeful”, “I am thoughtful”, “I am observant”, “I am peaceful”. Nothing wrong with not talking. When you listen you learn so much about so many new things. When you consciously listen, it takes a bit of hard work. You have to shelve your ego and give the other person the space to express themselves. I’m still trying but Alhamdulillah it’s a richly rewarding experience.
The day of the accident, I was happy because I wasn’t alone. That day and all the days after that, every time I woke up someone I loved was there. It was like the world’s best Facebook picture slideshow.
And the only person who was hurt was me and I knew it wasn’t that bad. You know when something inside you is changed forever and Alhamdulillah that didn’t happen that day.
That particular week, I was just grateful for every single silly little thing, from my parents to TV, from boiled eggs to pain medication, from hugs to the wind, to beautiful confusing Sri Lanka to lovely and infuriating Dubai.
Hopefully insha Allah in changing my thoughts, I will change my character. Hopefully insha Allah I will nurture peace, whether my friend Fear is with me or not.
That, more than anything, is my intention for 2013 insha Allah.
Have a blessed year. Have a blessed life insha Allah!
Wassalam and Fee Amanillah.
The Happy (and fully healed) Muslimah.