Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happiness II

As salaam alaikum,

I'm starting over. I'm letting go of a lot of how I've constructed myself over the past 9 years that I moved out of my parents house and embraced the practice of Islam because somewhere along the way I lost Islam. I lost peace, I lost a way of life compatible with my values, I lost my spiritual solution.

I no longer have a fear of my inherent Western individualism. It makes no sense to live my religion in any other way than what works for me. If it doesn't work for me, then what of it? Do I thrash myself for being imperfect, to I begin to suspect, as I did before I was practicing, that my life is written and I was intended for the hellfire, anyway, so why bother? How did I even get close to being back there?

I still don't believe that the purpose of life is simply happiness but I also don't believe that this should be excluded from one's life pursuit.

Our lives aren't always surrounded by all things beauty, but we do have those moments when it is. Moments when our minds are at ease about our dying relatives and the general injustices of the world. And it's okay to be happy in those moments just as it is okay to be sad or angry in those times when our minds are not at ease about all of the unlovely things in our lives and the lives of those around us. It doesn't make the struggle any less real. And we're all living the struggle, whether we believe in it or not.

I'm starting over and discovering that it's okay to be happy. It's okay to be mentally sound.

Instead of practicing Islam to bring me spiritual balance, I twisted Islam, as many others have, into an insufferable life form that amplified and justified my anxieties. It bred despondency that was already there, thriving on its own. And it's only predictable that that would have happened to me, following a path that many other men and women before me followed and recorded with their own vantage point, colored by their own anxieties.

If I'm happy, it's not because I'm doing something wrong. Not that I ever consciously believed that, but sometimes, that's just the way it would end up.

Happiness, for me, could only be achieved in perfection of faith. Since I also believed that such perfection was impossible (though near perfection was the goal), happiness was always something that would happen later. The standards I set for that near perfect faith were near impossible, of course.

I colored my Islam through the eyes of my own perfectionism. After all, what better realm of life to be a perfectionist than in the realm that determines your eternal fate?

There's so much that, in the last year, I've blamed on Islam as it was constructed before me. I blamed it on my ill-fated quest for spiritual balance that somehow ended terribly wrong. I blamed too much on it, almost everything, from my dysfunction in finding a life mate to my inexperience in hosting a large number of guests at my apartment for dinner.

I finally stepped back and realized that none of this was the fault of my spiritual quest. There were other, less expansive explanations. I've never hosted a large number of people at my apartment for dinner because I've lived with roommates or in dorms for the past 9 years of my life and have therefore never entertained on my own. I had roommates or lived in dorms because I was a student for the past 9 years of my life.

And so many of the other idiosyncrasies in my life have really simple, intuitive answers like this one.

Nothing is quite so grave anymore. The nickname I use in the hospital no longer feels like I've suffered dissociative fugue. Love is not impossible for me anymore because it doesn't have to be near perfect.

Wow. I really like that. Excuse me, I have to repeat it for myself.

Love is not impossible for me anymore because it doesn't have to be near perfect.

Because it's nowhere close to perfect, just like I'm not. And mindfulness helped me accept that. That was something that was incompatible with my version of life before this. Imperfection, being satisfied with imperfection. I should always strive to be better...

I still believe in striving to be better. I just no longer believe that dissatisfaction with one's current state is a prerequisite to that striving.

To be continued...

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