I’m Leaving, I’m Gone!

I’m Leaving, I’m Gone!

Dear Reader,

Goodbye!

And Hello! again. Notice how short lived that was. You see that’s the thing with most hellos and goodbyes, they are just that. Short lived! I guess it is true that you learn something new each day and probably the one striking thing I’ve learnt in the past couple of weeks is that goodbyes are by far one of the most cunning things in life because we say them so often and so frequently without ever thinking that any one goodbye might be our last.

Now I know what you might be thinking. Why so morbid Momo?!

Well the simple answer is that in the past couple of weeks/months I have had to say goodbye to so many people, places and things that its almost made me question my own decision of wanting to leave Malaysia. And even though the world is rather small these days and the opportunities to meet up are always there, for certain people and certain things its hard to escape the thought that it might have been the last time. And even if life brings you back, chances are the circumstances would never be the same and so even though you are in a familiar place the experience is completely new.

But the reality of the situation is that whether or not I was leaving Malaysia any one of my goodbyes could have been my last because the nature of life is as such. I also think that’s the main thing about goodbyes though, is that they put a count down timer on everything especially for someone who is leaving a place. So its definitely made me value a lot of people and things that I (unfortunately) previously might have taken for granted.

There is a positive side to things of course, when you do say goodbye to many things inadvertently you are going to be saying hello to a lot of other things, unless your dead that is haha! Not sure why I laughed there. Anyways that’s how my past couple of weeks have been, a constant stream of hellos. Which is good to be honest, as it gives me a chance to start over, to create a new image of myself and how I want to be perceived and to finally make use of any previous bad experiences I have had in the past with regards to dealing with people as no one really knows anything previous about me.

Finally you might be surprised to hear, it has been nearly two weeks since anyone has addressed me as Momo.

God Bless 🙂

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The Irony of Change & New Beginnings

The Irony of Change & New Beginnings

Change is probably one of the most inevitable occurrences in life. It’s unthinkable, nay naive, to even imagine that one would actually go through the entire experience of life without having some sort of extreme change to their current state. In fact in some cases it can even be ironic because the truth is most of us are actually looking for some sort of change in our lives. Whether its a new car, a better paying job, a new house, heck even a new pair of shoes; our progression in life is certainly rooted in change. So the idea that one feels surprised every time some major change happens in their life is pretty ironic to a certain extent.

The reality of change is such however that very often if it is not induced by an individual (i.e. a choice to change) then it is induced by circumstances, which I think is where you may be excused for being surprised when change does occur although it should be known that nothing in life is actually permanent. Simple example, an employee that gets laid off because their company isn’t doing so well as opposed to an employee resigning in search of greener pastures. So what we can take from this is that the next time we look at someone and think to ourselves “Oh wow that person has changed”, we always need to take that one step back to see if they truly chose to change or whether its circumstances that dictated their change.

The strangest thing about change is actually the uncertainty that surrounds it. And that’s what often holds people back from choosing to change certain things in their lives, that “fear” of not knowing how things are going to turn out. What is even more ironic I guess is that this feeling of “fear” often arises in people that want change. And am sure this example hits hard; we all know someone (sometimes its ourselves) that is always talking about how they want to change something in their lives, and then when the opportunity for change does finally come up, they don’t take it. For whatever reason, they don’t take it. So there is a great amount of bravery involved in pursuing a goal that involves great change to your state.

But isn’t it funny also how when you do get something that you really wanted you are often left a little empty inside, or maybe you don’t feel as happy as you thought you should be feeling. I guess the reason behind that is when you do eventually get what you want, you are suddenly faced with all the things that you would ultimately be forced to let go off. These things could be people, friendships, relationships etc. Eventually and very bluntly you are exposed to one of the cruelest facts of life; that most times it’s not just about the destination really but the journey itself.

And another great irony is that getting what you want very often marks the end of a particular journey in your life. For example, when you get that degree that you have always wanted, it signals the end of numerous friendships, relationships etc. as things inadvertently are not going to be the same from then on. Same goes with getting married, getting a new house or a new job. So my advice in all of this is don’t get too caught up in wanting to change and one way of doing that is simply counting your blessings and appreciating what you actually have rather than putting all your focus on what you don’t have. And that although change cannot be avoided it is important to be patient because everything in life happens in due time, even its end.

God Bless!

The “Swelling Ocean”

The “Swelling Ocean”

Guess what book I’ve been reading recently? Nope it doesn’t start with 50 and ends with grey haha! but its the same book I probably reference in almost all of my posts (i.e. Purification of the Heart). And one of the longest chapters in that book is one that tackles probably one of the most basic and fundamental of all human emotions, and that’s anger. In the book anger is compared to a swelling mass of emotion that is difficult to hold back once it is unleashed similar to trying to hold back a swelling mass of water. Anger is such an amazing phenomenon, if one reflects on its nature and occurrence in human life and character, and about its perils and liability, as well as its necessity in life.

But anger is not necessarily a negative emotion in and of itself. It is part of human creation, just as our flesh and limbs are. That’s because without anger, there are many things that would not have been achieved and in fact anger can be a positive motivator. However, there is another side to anger that we must be very careful about because if anger is not guided towards something useful, it can posses, consume and ultimately destroy an individual. And how many times have we seen or heard of a person who ruined his/her life because of a rash act or statement made in a fit of rage.

So the wisdom here is that anger is something that needs to be trained, but certainly not abolished. Again for if people completely suppressed their anger many of the injustices of the world would not have been opposed. Furthermore anger is said to be acceptable only at the right time, in the right place, for the right reasons and in the right amount.

There are basically four reasons people get angry according to the book. One reason is related to primal needs, such as food, shelter and life. When these are threatened, any normal person would feel vulnerable and respond with anger. Touch my food and I will literally touch your liver. Haha! But seriously this type of anger is not blameworthy at all and in fact necessary for without it we would have a society that is indifferent to crime and transgression. The second reason is related to position, dignity and the protection of one’s honor. So for example if someone is trying to belittle an individual or if someone feels as though they are not treated as well as they should be very often people would feel angry.

The third reason is a little more specific and relates to specific people with specific set of values. For example if a scholar sees a book being abused, he would become angry as opposed to an illiterate man on the other hand who would see nothing wrong with keeping a book on the floor or stepping on a book etc. The fourth kind is generally referred to as jealousy, and in our modern world we usually just refer to it as hate.

So knowing all of this, how does one go about dealing with anger. Well there are two cures that are referenced in the book, the first removes anger when it occurs and the second suppresses or thwarts it. Bare in mind that aside from the four reasons mentioned above one of the main reasons people become angry is because of slow WiFi haha! Just kidding is because they have inflated egos. But anyways the first cure is to remember the extensive praise and goodness associated with forbearance and humility and the ethic being promoted here is to simply “let go” and not allow insult to penetrate and manipulate one’s emotion.

The second is a little more spiritual but says to remember that nothing takes place without God’s leave and that life in general is a crucible of endless trials and when people forget that life is a constant struggle they often react severally when they are tried time and time again. Interesting stuff indeed, hope it helps you as much as its helped me and in conclusion I would like to leave you with some words to ponder over “A strong man is not one who can wrestle people, but one who controls himself when he is angry.” Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

God bless and don’t get angry!

I’m “Malaysian” but I’m not Malaysian.

I’m “Malaysian” but I’m not Malaysian.

Growing up as a foreigner in any society is an incredibly eye opening and humbling experience that reaps tremendous benefits in the long run. It is also an experience that has the power to shape many impressions or opinions that one might have regarding race prejudice or dealing with people who are from different backgrounds, people who are marginalized (minorities) and humanity in general. Certainly for me that was the case.

The Arabs have a very interesting saying which goes “Whoever lives amongst a people for 40 days, becomes one of them”. And as a Sudanese citizen whose spent way way way more than 40 days in Malaysia, 20 years in fact, I can definitely say that my experience of the world is far more Malaysian than it is Sudanese.

Now It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the later in life you expose yourself to a foreign culture the harder it is for you to assimilate to that culture. Mainly because when you’re young you just accept the way things are, as apposed to questioning why certain things are as such or why certain things aren’t as you expect ( or want) them to be. This probably explains why I feel more of a foreigner in Sudan than I do in Malaysia. Strange! I know, but true.

A very common question that I get asked is “Has race ever played a part during your time in Malaysia?”. Well the simple answer to that would certainly have to be yes. But I do have to be fair in my opinion on this and so usually before answering the question I would ask the person if by race they meant racism. If so, then what would they classify to be as racism? Is it having less rights on certain things just because my citizenship is not Malaysian. If so, then yes for sure but so has every other foreigner whose lived in a country that is not theirs.

Well then is it being treated differently just because I look different, if so then yes again but so has every other foreign looking individual whose ever been to a foreign land. And if they were referring to my place of origin (i.e. Africa) and skin color (i.e. Black) then certainly yes and I do have to admit that there is a “white bias” that exists in the world, but that is not something that I can attribute to Malaysia alone but it is something that exists nearly everywhere even in places that are as liberal and open minded as the United States.

I do have to mention that this is a personal opinion and I am talking about things that apply to my own scenario first and not in a general sense. And to better explain here’s an example of a very common occurrence at work.

You see a lot of my actual work is in hospitals in and around Malaysia. So I’ve been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to travel around the country and visit many different medical centers. Sometimes I would need to go visit some of these sites by myself and then at those times there I am this tall, dark, foreign looking fella who is obviously not a patient trying to enter a secluded section of a hospital.

Now one of the common initial expressions that I see on the faces of most nurses who I meet is one of extreme caution and in some cases even fear, which is strange because am really a nice guy actually. Haha! But anyways I found a brilliant way of combating this though, I would just speak to them in Bahasa Melayu (BM) which is the native langue of Malaysia in case you didn’t know. And then immediately the doubt/caution/fear whatever is replaced with “Oh he’s just another one of us or is he?”. So I would then go in, do my job, and on the way out I would typically have some documents that I would need the nurses to sign and nine times out of ten, at those moments I would be asked if I am local or not. I would then tell them my backstory and just like that we all become good friends.

That right there is the wisdom of knowing the local language of a people. It breaks barriers down and in fact induces a type of affinity between both parties because from your end it shows respect to the local culture and language. And I also see this as one of the major faults of a lot of people that come into the country, they don’t make a conscious effort to know the local language of a people. Sometimes you don’t even need to master the language, just a few words/phrases here and there would suffice. And you usually get asked the same questions believe me, I can tell you my life story backwards in BM. Haha!

But my point in all of this is there is truly no escaping racism. I’m not going to say its something that is inherent because its not, you only need to go to a kindergarten to see that that isn’t true. What I meant by “no escaping racism” is that its a social disease; a disease that many often times finds its roots in lack of knowledge, lack of understanding for what is different, lack of will to change and fear of loss of power. You can look through history and you will find that a lot of the things that relate to racism are often motivated by any one of those four.

And also no race/nationality or any sort of demographic is entirely superior to another. They all have flaws but more importantly they all have many good attributes about them. The problem we have as a people is that we often notice and focus on the bad while unconsciously overlooking the countless good. And on a personal level I can honestly say that Malaysia will always be a part of me and whether I live for another 50 years or I die tomorrow my view of the world would always be through Malaysian eyes.

Malaysia Boleh!

Ego, Pride and Arrogance

Ego, Pride and Arrogance

Ego, pride and arrogance. At a single glance they all seem to be the same, or at least that’s the common claim. Haha! wait a minute that actually rhymes, but anyways I can’t tell you enough how many times I’ve made decisions in my life solely based on either one of those three. But who hasn’t really. I mean so many facets of our lives are based on how we view ourselves, how we view others and how we view ourselves in comparison to others. Ultimately however each one of those three harbors a bit of good but also a world of bad. I’ll explain.

So let’s talk about ego first and how it is really just about the self. Self worth for that matter. You see ego is indicative of how you view yourself or simply your estimation of your own self. And that’s why in many ways ego can serve as just the kick of confidence you need to go out and reach for something or unfortunately the very reason you end up making a fool of yourself; because paint yourself too small and you may never reach your full potential or paint yourself too big and you might just live to regret the day you ever got into painting. Haha!

Next up, pride. Pride is a little tricky actually because in so many ways it is actually warranted, because pride is in fact you being proud about something. Like for example an achievement, so you have achieved something and now you have pride towards that thing. Fair enough I guess, but the issue with pride is that it should be short lived but usually that’s not the case. So with pride the taste of success should induce your hunger for more success and not satiate your hunger for success. It’s also equally important to have pride with regards to the right things because very easily you could fall prey to arrogance.

And last up, arrogance. It is said that the first sin which God was faced with in heaven was one that emanated from arrogance, as the story in the Quran narrates when Satan refused to bow down to Adam because he felt he was superior to him as he (Satan) was made of fire and Adam was made of clay. Whether or not you believe in the story is a different debate altogether but the reality of arrogance is that it is derived from you seeing and believing yourself to be better than someone else, warranted or not warranted. So its relative and I guess that’s why nobody likes an arrogant person, because through their arrogance they often attempt to put someone or something else down.

And there are numerous things that people are arrogant about, none more ridiculous than arrogance with regards to beauty. As mentioned in a book that I probably quote everywhere in my blog:

“That is, how can one have an obnoxious sense of superiority for something one had nothing to do with? First of all, God is the Fashioner; it is He who gives all things their shapes and forms. Secondly, beauty does not last; it wanes, as the pressures of age and stress wear down flesh, so what remains is what one should have focused on in the first place: the content of one’s character, personal beliefs, and one’s deeds.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

But there are times when arrogance is good, surprisingly, and that’s in the face of an arrogant person. Ironic right Haha!

Finally it all goes back to that point which I keep bringing up every time and that’s moderation. Either one of those three can, in the right amounts, serve to be a source of great good but a little too much of either and the entire thing is just perverse. However, the safest position I feel is modesty and humbleness. More often than not its the harder option but equally its often the correct option.

Be humble. Be modest 🙂

Moving On!

Moving On!

Life is full of blessings, some obvious and many others not so, but I think one of the most underrated blessings of life is in the ability to forget. I say that because if not for that ability then many of us would forever remain haunted by experiences from our pasts. Whether its breakups, deaths, failures, pain, anger, you name it. Life is just littered with experiences that have the power to paralyze our progression in it.

Having said that, moving on is not just about forgetting, it is actually much more than that. Its about being able to look back at something and not have it affect you in the same way. So in fact when it comes to moving on it is not actually about forgetting the experience but more of forgetting the hurt, and that’s where the blessing lies I feel.

The reality is that there is no real technique to moving on, its often dependent on the individuals themselves. Some simply take longer than others to get over things, which is why very comically breakups often end up being a race of who can forget the quickest. There are things that help of course, stuff like religion, family and friends etc. these all can aid in the process. Also a very common advise when it comes to moving on is trying something new; like picking up a new hobby, meeting new people, re-locating even, basically anything that would inject a new lease of life into your life. However, these all function much like morphine does for cancer patients, they only partially numb the pain and under any circumstance its almost always an issue of time.

Time is the great decider for a lot of our lives’ matters. Wait long enough and you would almost always see the wisdom behind the things happening to you. Try to rush time on other hand and you will almost always lose out on a great lesson, or simply lose! You see moving on is a lot like healing a broken bone; it always grows back stronger, given the time, but try to rush the healing process and you’re left with a severely weakened bone that’s susceptible to another break.

One of the strangest things about moving on though is that you never really see it coming. Its end or fruition I mean. So sometimes it may seem like you would never be able to get over something or someone but just like that you eventually do. Its like you could be crying buckets one night and the next morning you wake up thinking to yourself what the heck was I crying about last night. Its that powerful and that strange.

What I do like about moving on is that with it comes hope. Hope for forgiveness, hope for redemption, hope for change and hope for better things to come and you would always come out of the entire process stronger. As the saying goes whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Finally it is said that the entire process of life is in fact about letting go or moving on. And I guess that’s pretty accurate because eventually there are a lot of things that we need to let go of. Our parents, our friends, our pets and everything else that we have ever owned when we eventually let go of ourselves.

“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعون”

 

 

Comfort Zones

Comfort Zones

There are these places or zones in all of our psyches that a lot of us stumble upon and eventually settle into, knowingly or unknowingly. They are places that many of us spend countless days in, plotting to leave or escape but eventually opt not to. Convincing ourselves through the process that we are actually contempt with ourselves and our lives and that there is no real need for change, or no real need to go through the hassles of change. Ironically however these places are in fact traps. Traps that just so happen to be nice and comfortable enough to live in.

Oddly enough these places (comfort zones) often appear after periods of immense struggle and effort, you may think of them as pit-stops sort of speak along a highway. Come to think of it they might just be life’s way of giving us a break every once in a while. But anyways, like I said we tend to find them after what seems to be a period of hard work. The one thing that we need to be careful about however is that in the same way pit-stops aren’t our final destinations on a long road trip; these comfort zones can’t become ours (i.e. final destinations) either.

So what are these comfort zones like actually? Well they usually come hand in hand with complacency and can be different things for different people depending on their circumstances. For example if you are working then these zones tend to appear when you confine yourself to one particular aspect of your job that you are good at or simply doing what appeals to you and staying away from what doesn’t. If you are studying on the other hand they often appear when you do well once or twice and no longer feel the need to push yourself to excel.

Regardless of the circumstance, these comfort zones can be quite misleading. Spend too long in one and after a while you begin to think (assume) that you have mastered or achieved all that there is to achieve, when in reality it’s probably impossible to do so as there is always room for improvement. These comfort zones also present another danger and that is they wear you out in the long run. Wear you out in the sense that they depreciate the very things (skills/attributes etc.) that got you into these comfort zones in the first place.

This brings me back to a point that I keep discovering over and over again and it’s that life is a constant uphill struggle, where you have to constantly do more in order to progress. And where it’s a lot easier to go down than up.

In all I guess progress can only be achieved by stepping out of your comfort zones. There is no sugar coating that fact. And going back to the highway analogy, you have to eventually leave the pit-stop if you want to continue on to your destination, that’s just logical. Also the longer you stay in your comfort zone the harder it becomes to leave and the less of a chance you have at achieving the things you want to achieve. If not because of ever changing circumstances then certainly because of time, as none of us know which pit-stop in our road trips would be our last.