The Forty Rules of Love…(3)

The Roller Coaster of Life moves and changes at speeds that are often difficult to fathom much less understand…the perfect balance and harmony of the universe  however makes it all seem so effortless…and although many parts are often in motion and in a flux…the whole is exactly where it is meant to be and it is only we, who move in this perfect whole in a more disjointed and distressed manner who need to come to terms with this flux of life…time to understand and absorb…and take comfort in the reality that though physical links may be broken, it begets other links to help us continue in this circle of life and love…

This last week, a very dear Uncle of mine passed away…he epitomized  love of life , generosity of spirit, elegance, humor and a positive attitude in all aspects of his life. The heart grieves at the end of an era…but is comforted in rejoicing at the wonderful and personal Memories we all have of him! For me this Celebration of Memories is epitomized by the reality, that the mention of his handsome and debonair personality always brings an involuntary smile to all our faces…that is a commendable legacy…

21. We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

22. When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine biber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearances. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed instead opens a third eye –the eye that sees the inner realm.

23. Life is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance.

24. The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and everyone of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.

25. Hell is the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.

26. The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do not harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back –not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.

27. This world is like a snowy mountain that echoes your voice. Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbors ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of forty days, because you will be different inside.

28. The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternitiy does not mean inifnite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.

29. Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance.

30. The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked, and condemned from all sides, patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?

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Riches of the head and heart…

The mind is quite incredible in it’s capacity to store what we call, a ‘mind boggling’ amount of data…it sometimes feels that there will be an overload breakdown with the barrage of memories…ideas…information…impressions…thoughts…emotions…reactions and all their related responses…but the Lord be praised…there is no memory enhancing requirement, the one we have continues to absorb…store…delete…process with no real problem or outside help…most of the time! As someone wrote to me…memory is truly an amazing gift…

However, with all this data on tap, sometimes it seems that there is nothing to write about…which is an arrogance based notion of wanting the ‘big idea’ to discuss…the ‘clever thought’ to expound upon…the ‘complex emotion’ to deconstruct…whereas all we really need to do is to look around us…take in…remember…feel…and let it all wash over us in the warmth and thankfulness of the little and simple pleasures of life…and our memories…

Oftentimes, all that is really required for me is to let the joy of walking in the  garden bring back it’s own host of treasured memories. The garden has always had a special place in our home whilst growing up, as well as with our own children, and a flood of memories are associated with it…in particular and especially, memories of the regular and traditional evening Tea in the garden with my parents…this was always a special and magical time of the day…a time of unspoken but deeply felt love and family ties…with friends and family often joining us because my parents being in the garden at that time was a given….an almost unacknowledged comfort factor at that time for so many of us…the laden trolley and trays of traditional tea fare and their favorite Earl Grey tea were staples…Mother always seemed to have arranged for an unending stream of goodies to cater to all those joining us…the enthusiastic discussions…the sound of abandon and laughter…Father’s wise ways with words and discourses which always brought young and old around him…the grandchildren lost in their own games and play area till the need for that extra slice of cake or samosa brought them to us…the boisterous cries of the boys busy at their cricket practice, confident that the next world champ was right here in the making, since grandfather and the uncles had all played for their schools and universities….the call to prayer breaking up the group for a short while…the children wanting to linger outside as long as possible thereby delaying the return to a schedule…good times, great memories…I am overwhelmed once again at the abundance and pleasure of memories that makes the whole such an absolutely incredible package…untold riches of the head and heart…

The Joyous Reruns of Life…

The joy in these has to be accredited in the main to the fact that recollection of these reruns now span six decades…a long time to be sure…but oftentimes when recollecting and recounting, the memories are so freshly on tap…that the heart nostalgically skips several beats! True, memories are kind on the recollection…but that is how it needs to be for the retelling…to try and pass on to the next generation a sense of joy…elation…excitement in the celebration of family, cultural and traditional occasions…

Last week saw us celebrate our Festival of Haj…Eid ul Azha…family from near and far had blessedly got together to spend these three days of festivities, which have a lead-in of ten days of personal effort to be part of the spirit of those performing the pilgrimage of Haj! This includes acts of faith…preparation of all sorts of traditional fare…shopping for traditional garb…specially beautifully colored clinking glass bangles that catch the suns rays in a myriad of hues, often a best-seller for women of all age groups…and my all time favorite…one my lovely sister and granddaughter share with me…henna, the exotic designs colorfully staining your palms to perfection leaving you wishing for more hands to put them on! The excitement is palpable even for those blasé enough to be discounting it! Eid day dawns very early as kitchens are busy with the preparation of traditional and aromatic delicacies to be consumed soon after the Eid congregational prayers! The children impatiently waiting to receive their Eidi…traditional gifts! The resounding of traditional  greetings…Eid Mubarak…throughout the day from family, friends, neighbors, old retainers…near and far! I can almost still feel the excitement of such occasions gone by with my parents and hope and pray that my children and theirs will continue to do so too in years to come. Eid day passes in a pleasurable blur of bonhomie…gluttony…laughter…shared memories…tales of those were the days and do-you-remember…trying to capture the essence of these magical moments in photographs…strengthening of family ties in endless and tiring visits…exhaustion…all this the order of these celebratory days…

Being together…being ‘home’ is reassuringly enough, still as that wonderful website TCK, Third Culture Kids describes…the passport country of our parents…so appropriate for those of us who fall into this category! For a few brief moments in time, this is still ‘home’…even for those it is not anymore…there is an almost undeniable and sometimes hard to acknowledge feeling of harmony with our collective DNA of history, culture and memories, before the return to chosen and adopted lands of residence…but that is subject for another post! The happiness of these celebrations bring back memories of our parents…memories of their love colors my life with a sense of being whole, secure in my sense of belonging…blissfully happy at the celebration that was…the Good Lord be praised…

A summer extravaganza….

I have been holidaying for the last two months…spending time with a beloved daughter…family…and friends! It has been a ride of much joy…fun…laughter…love…socializing…relaxation…contentment…pampering…inner peace…the Good lord be praised! Time takes on different dimensions and forms on extended holidays in distant and varied parts of the world…each place leaving its own indelible imprint of time spent there…with the last leg of this extravaganza still waiting in the wings…

The pace of life on holiday in the comfort of a great home in ‘suburbia’ has it’s own particular character…it is almost indolent and decadent in it’s slow adagio rhythm…quite unlike any big city pace…days seem to slide into weeks almost effortlessly and unbeknownst to the self…this affords occasion for forced reflection and introspection at many levels…with added and welcome opportunities for deeper personal connections…as well as a gathering of oneself, at a pace that is now not quite so readily on tap in our rushed and hectic lives…this is eased and assisted by a continuous flow of love, spoiling and pampering…

A spontaneous trip to a more energetic metropolis added spice to this heady and indulgent banquet. The city on the Bay, San Francisco, exudes an energy and exuberance that is particular to it’s own unique character…the synergy is palpable and exciting…quickening your senses only to be overwhelmed by the natural beauty and lay of the terrain which is quite awe inspiring! Another much planned and finally executed trip, to meet family in another beautiful part of the country was all it was expected to be…a frantic catching up of the years that have gone by…coupled with the most loving hospitality and care….a rushed and hectic trip in a slow and relaxed milieu…

Through it all…the joy of catching up and spending time with loved ones and old friends…added to which was a joyful experience of easing into the beginning of a new friendship…an unexpected meeting taking root in shared and  common backgrounds and experiences…above all, the solicitous care and attention of a loving daughter and family…time seems to have flown by on wings of love…another wonderful chapter in the chronicles of a glorious memory making summer with dear ones…   
  

Dallas…

Being lovingly and comfortably ensconced in the warmth and love of a dear daughter’s home…seeing her so lovely in her radiance of beauty, love, strength and independence is truly…a blessing par excellence…to then be surrounded by the love…joy…laughter and rambunctious abandon of a home filled with three young grandchildren and the gentle and caring attention of a son-in-law…is even more so…

Since I travel so much, home, is often in many places and continents…but what defines it more than anything else, is knowing that ‘home’ is where you all realize what truly matters…where we love is home…where we cherish our human connections is home….where family is not an important thing, it is everything, is home…being bound by common threads of history…experiences…memories…even prejudices, is home! Motherhood seems to carry a part of ‘home’ with it as it were…haunting moments of motherhood is hearing your own words come out of your daughter’s mouth…echoes of my Mother’s voice and deeds reflected in this third and even fourth generation of women…this is movingly and comfortingly familiar…the circle of life complete…

In lands, ours by adoption…rather than by birth…the family of friends is a power to be reckoned with and is most comforting and reassuring. Being surrounded by such graciousness and affection is heartwarming and makes the physical distances we live with so much easier to accept! To be at home wherever I find myself…in a safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned…with respect for our connective tissues…treasuring the love and joys we receive…these are truly the power and manifestations of God’s grace…and I can say once again, with much thankfulness…truly, my cup runneth over…

London…

It is the month of May, I am on the move again and it seems this year will once again be one of much traveling…I have spent the last ten days in a favorite city of mine…London! It has been a memorable double whammy so to speak…being there with family and friends is always a treat….this time my sister decided to surprise me and joined me for a week, and what glorious week it has been…a girls holiday…a truly joyous…gleeful…memorable…unstructured…spontaneous…full of laughter…memory making time…

There is something comforting about being in London…it is well known because of time spent schooling when father was posted there…it is enjoyable in its long familiarity due to an adult period of studies and healing, spent there after a painful personal time…more than that, it is nostalgic because of all the holidays spent there…at different times and stages of life, in a city that is at the same time well known for it’s old familiarity, as well as exciting for all it’s novel and original spins on old themes…catering to a new order whilst retaining it’s inherent and fascinating olde charm…reaffirming its status as one of the truly great cities of the world…

Memories of times spent in this grand capital of the world with parents…spouse…children…family…friends…together with the undeniable and incomparable charm and olde world appeal and graciousness of the British…combined with the deliciousness of a perfect English summer has been truly delightful! The English countryside has always been a favorite…I find it quite incomparable and our short incursions into sleepy…quaint…olde worlde villages…visiting an antique fair and picking up that perfect piece you knew you always wanted…was topped off with an Al-fresco tea of scones and clotted cream in a garden of riotous hues and colors…tucked away in an olde tea shoppe…a perfect start to a long summer holiday…

Bidding Farewell to a dear Aunt…

Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch rather than the things you acquire…we give significance to our lives by valuing the lives of others…kindness in giving creates love…the love we give away is the only love we keep…all these encapsulate my Aunt, however, one is still left feeling as if, it has not really all been said…she and another of her siblings, a dear late Uncle, were the family’s sweethearts…the ones that just always brought a smile to your lips when talked about…a gentle and rare breed…

Aunts are a double blessing…they love like mothers and act like friends…I feel specially blessed to have been touched by this double dose of blessings, her beautiful spirit and the positive meaning she gave to goodness…things often just felt nicer when shared with her…love is a gift whose worth cannot be measured except by the heart and she had her own very special and unique way of making you feel extra special…our large family, often spanning four generations at a time, all have their own precious memories of her…some so uniquely hers, that we all chuckle whenever one of us brings them up, because we can all so relate to them on our own personal wavelengths…

To lovingly reminiscence about her kindness…humaneness…naïveté…her artless comments…her ingenuous wonder…her definitive quality of giving love has been easy and comforting…sharing an onslaught of remembrances has been heartwarming whilst Celebrating Memories and lives no longer with us…it is said that every exit has an entry somewhere…the prayer is for the Good Lord to be her help and guide in this last journey, as in her life…

Celebrating Memories…

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