Who would deny that the simplest things in life are the best? We spend the better part of our lives vying for this and that, be it a job, a house, a car and a myriad of other material things. Age does give the benefit of hindsight and a wisdom that cannot be gained from reading books or simply listening to others alone.
In my own limited experience, I have come to know that I derive the greatest pleasure in life from the simplest of things: a stunning flower, the subtle sounds of water lapping on the riverbank, the mellifluous sounds of chirping birds, the susurration of trees swaying in the breeze. Nature displays its charms so unreservedly and it is there for the taking. I like to think I rarely miss an opportunity to lose myself in its midst. Alhamdulillah, I am fortunate to be living in a place where all these things are at my disposal 24/7.
Quite apart from nature, there is one other aspect of my life which I relish. It is the time when my boys and I come together to sit and talk about anything and everything. It’s not so much what the topic of discussion is but that we are simply fortunate enough to be in one another’s company at that time. I know as they become fully-fledged adults and the demands of modern life pulls them into their own distractions, their affection is real and still draws them back to me as their mother, Alhamdulillah. I may not have had a daughter but I don’t miss her absence. My boys have often combed my hair, pampered my tired feet and massaged my head. (There have been varying degrees of alacrity in those moments but at least they have obliged).
I do remind them of the many things I juggle in my daily life. It is not to instigate sympathy for me or a word of ‘thanks’. It’s my way of preparing them for their own future. One day, inshaAllah, when they get married themselves, they will already be aware of the work involved in running a household – especially as a woman. My hope is that they will never take their wife for granted as, chances are, she will be doing the lion’s share of the housework. Feminists can roll their eyes here. However, I’ve rarely seen a reversal of traditional roles sustain itself in a marriage and not without a negative impact in some way.
I am convinced that if men were more acutely aware of the miracles that women perform in their daily lives at home, then perhaps many more marriages would have lasted today. The same applies to women who are unashamedly disconnected from the daily grind that their husbands endure to support the family. In both cases, being blissfully ignorant of the other is a disaster in the making. I believe it’s why many marriages tragically come to an end.
So, being in tune with nature, being brought back to a place of humility, is a good place to learn our own insignificance in the grand scheme of things in this world. We are so deluded with self-importance. A great reality check would be to stand at the foot of a mountain, or in the middle of a field, to know how tiny we are. Our egos are disproportionate to our relevance to this world. Likewise, just being present in the moment of a conversation with those we love or care about – these are the priceless treasures nobody can create. Not only are these things free but they are humbling.
Being humble is a means of connecting us right back to our status in this life. It is predicated on the knowledge that Allah should always remain at the epicentre of our existence. I have found that having a reference point to conduct my affairs in all matters large or small, is by far the greatest free gift given to me by my Creator. Acceptable behaviour is not some random set of rules I design for myself. Rather, it’s a formula which has been assigned to me from Above. But abiding by those rules with a conviction that Allah knows what is best for me, rather than leaving me to judge for myself, is such a wonderful gift that it’s surprising it goes unnoticed. In one stroke, it does away with manmde biases such as culture, traditions or habits, where these contradict Allah’s orders.
My advice to others? Chase the things which are intrinsic to developing your soul and give you a clearer understanding as to why you are here in the first place. Material things are anybody’s game. They are simply an outward manifestation of purchasing power or money in your pocket. But to appreciate nature and to value family is a testimony to understanding all of that from a station of gratitude and faith that everything is in perfect balance.