It is difficult to resist writing. I planned for a hiatus on writing and learn confined my thoughts to myself, but it proves to be a difficult thing to do. It is not as much as the craving for an audience as the need to structure my thought process – writing things down does not seem practical when I live with an infant who keeps eating papers. I am back at writing, for this purpose.
Though I truly am glad if you are reading this.
I turned 31 years old a few days ago. All praise be to Allah.
When I really think about it, being 31 is honestly very scary.
A research shows that women are most beautiful at that age, and although I certainly do feel (more) at ease with my physical self compared to my younger years, that is not my major concern at this point in time, though it gives me a slight joy.
It is scary once I realise that the female life expectancy in Malaysia is averaged at 76.3 years and for myself half of it has nearly passed by and I am still this being who is nowhere near the kind of person I thought I would be when I was 15 – spiritually, or all other aspects being accounted for.
Nevertheless, I am just glad the past year has given me the space to think, rethink, plan, and above all, recalibrate my life compass.
Being a full time homemaker, I am in a phase of life where I am least exposed to interaction with people outside my immediate family – and without me intending for it to happen, the introspection and epiphany come easier in this phase. Days may pass by without me speaking to any other adult except my husband, and living with my children for most part of the day, I learn that I am free from being judged and consequently free to be my true self. And as they say, that is when your true colours and akhlaq show.
It sounds like common sense – solitary times surely allow for better self-reflection – but I refuse to take it for granted. Such a phase doesn’t come often I figure. I was enrolled to a primary school when I was 7. And since then, it has been a non-stop thing – I had to be somewhere at a certain time of the day, for a certain hours, for a specific purpose, subject to interaction with people I like and didn’t like – until I quit my day job a year ago. In short, I was attached to institutions over institutions outside my family for the past 23 years which without me realising it left me with very limited time to reflect, introspect, and become more attuned to my inner thoughts. Such a regimented life left me too occupied to examine and understand myself; why I do things the way I did, good and bad.
Not that such attachment is wholly unwelcomed.
It is just that for someone like me – a type A person – such preoccupation with being liked to a certain extent for instance, and filling the the need to do something to achieve something (each institutions – schools, university, work – give me something to accomplish and work for) and shamefully to prove something to some parties other than God.
But being at home things are different. Cut off from any social affiliation (by choice nevertheless), my view is somehow, gratefully recalibrated. It doesn’t matter anymore whether I am assertive, or a good team worker, or if I dress right for the occasion, or making any impression whatsoever. What matters now is what matters in the eyes of God, and I am left with only myself to answer to. I have no external system to blame for my shortcomings – everything comes down to myself, and how I regulate it.
Of course, by hierarchy I am answerable to my husband but in this thing, as he often allows me to grow in my own time – he’s there more like a teammate who offers some kind of check-and-balance when I feel like I need it and when he feels like I need it.
And what matters to God now, is what should have been my priority all this while: being my best person when I am around my family. After all, Islam is sent down to perfect our akhlaq, our ethics, our manners, our morality. And the prophet (saw) taught us that the best of people are those with the most excellent character and those who are best to their family. When the most productive part of the day with people who actually don’t matter much consumed my energy – what would be left for the most important people in my life?
Only when I am not tied to any social convention on how to act and behave that I finally am reminded on the important things in life beyond the usual ‘family first’ mantra.
I appreciate this phase as it is – knowing that it could be temporary. I have been taught better than forever secluding myself – The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind. And thus my role in this life is never limited to my home life only. Regardless of the beautiful things this semi-solitary life offers me, I still do feel the inherent need to acquaint myself and interact with others. While solitude makes me learn more things about myself, the scholars have provided us with tips on becoming a better person: befriend good people, and sit with the learned ones. More often that not what I learned from a book or a lecture is seen through someone else’s akhlaq and action – and this real-life example is what often inspires me instead of the words I’ve read and listened to. It tells me that it is doable – not just some out-of-the-world anecdotes that seem impossible to emulate.
But above all, I am truly thankful of the past year and the decision that made the year possible (at a huge material cost nevertheless). A recalibration is indeed a much needed exercise – in this world of turbulence and confused priorities.