7 August 2021.
An unforgettable day in my life. I accomplished something I had never even dreamt of doing…climbing Mount Snowdon.
Exactly one year on and in my mind, I have often returned to that moment when I was descending the mountain with my troupe and suddenly realised the enormity of what I had just achieved! It wasn’t about climbing the mountain per se. The experience was a harbinger of change for my life. I have now made it a point to never be still in terms of wanting to explore what more I can do. I won’t pretend and say I have since achieved countless more things which are out of the ordinary. I haven’t. Yet, the more important thing is to keep moving.
I love life and yet I know that its adornments must not take over and consume me. Whenever I have made a decision to explore something new, be it switching jobs or my other interests, I try to frame them all within the Islamic perspective. That attitude gives me the best of both worlds. I am reminded not to be too absorbed in the duniya (material world) and yet I don’t feel unrealistically detached from it. I would never aspire to live like an ascetic in a hermetically sealed room anyway; I would never fool myself into thinking that kind of life is sufficient for me. It isn’t. If being on my own has taught me anything, it is that I need to seek opportunities out there. I am restless. I want adventure. I want self-development. InshaAllah.
I also don’t delude myself into thinking I can change the world. Indeed, that is impossible for any one individual. However, I can change myself. In the process, I hope to inspire others that they too can move forward and stake their claim in this world. For some, making that journey will be more arduous than others. That’s because society itself will put up barriers which might not be so easily surmountable, e.g. racism or religious antagonism. But sometimes, we are our own worst enemies and convince ourselves that “We can’t” or “We shouldn’t”. That internal battle is perhaps the hardest one of all. Yet so many great people in history have galvanised change by believing in themselves first; it requires absolute conviction. Without that instrinsic prerequisite, nothing can ever be achieved and sustained. With that self-determination, individuals have positively influenced others and created entire movements. It is contagious.
I say all this today because I have learnt to incorporate this principle in my own life ever since I came down from Snowdon. Alhamdulillah, there has been progress and when I look back at all the metaphoric stepping stones I have crossed in this past year, I see that I have walked a long path. I have deliberately kept concrete examples of this to myself for fear of ruining it all by openly mentioning it to others. However, suffice to say, my zest for life is real and this stems from a deep belief that I was sent to this world not to serve my own selfish interests and desires. I’m sure, for those who have every material thing imaginable in their life, they would testify that all of those things do nothing to bring out true happiness. Quite the opposite, in fact. Being at peace comes from giving back rather than taking.
In conversations with my young adult sons, I always request that their own paths through life, be it academic, career and spiritual, will always see that they are giving back to humanity. This is the surest way to show gratitude to Allah for the privilege of having the ability to do so in the first place.