Imagine you are going into the unknown. It is dark. Terrifying. It holds all your fears; yet all that you desire lies a little yonder. Imagine you are in a tunnel and the light is beckoning to you from the other side. You have a choice to hold on to the walls; to remain cooped up in your self made prison; or take the first step. The catch is, you never know if the step will ever land. There are no guarantees. You might fall deep, deep, down into an abyss or fly. You might first fall then fly. You might not fall at all.
Or imagine it’s a maze. There is a tangle of bushes all around you and a path barely decipherable for you to walk on. You have a theoretical map that tells you how to get out of it. It’s not enough though. You know there is a way out; you know the base laws are constant; yet there are many surprises along the way. The theoretical map is just one tool you have. You also have your senses and instincts to guide you. The thing is, you always have to keep a clear head and a placid heart and this will take up most of your energy. When things flip up, and the unexpected (and usually what you perceive to be unpleasant) occurs; you absolutely have to go with the flow.
At any moment, you have to be willing to let go of what doesn’t work. You have to be a lover of leaving; even if that leaving requires you to abandon pieces of you that are holding you back. There is no meaninglessness here; everything is purposeful. Every thought matters. The actions that follow are deliberate. To proceed in this journey you must both master your self and let go at the same time.
For example, if the path is straight and relatively easy; then all of a sudden a huge wall appears out of nowhere; you can not bang your head against it. You must take a deep breath; collect yourself; and find a way around it. Sometimes the wall is an illusion; you poke it and it crumbles. Sometimes it’s brick. You have to either walk around it; or scale it. Sometimes, it requires you to stop. To just stop and look around a little.
Other times, the only way out is to crawl on all fours; taste a measure of humility. Sometimes you kiss the ground and the path miraculously unfolds. Miracles happen when palms open too. Letting go is key.
Resistance is futile. Resistance is death. Everything is fluid. Nothing is what it seems. Stressing for the path to bend to your will; is ridiculous. It’s as if someone is perched on a swollen wave, either wholly complacent that it won’t crash or striving to hold on hoping that they won’t be flung off. We are all perched on that swollen wave.
When you are flung into deep waters, you must master the art of letting go. Limb by limb, you must relax, let your self go limp; and then miraculously you are floating. You are one with the water. Alternatively you can learn how to swim and practice, practice, practice; so that when you are flung off, you master the water. Panicking and thrashing about is death. Cursing the fate that had you thrown off is pointless.
Remember reading all the maps in the world (alone) will not get you anywhere. You can argue and compare who has the best map; you can burn other maps to prove your loyalty; that still won’t get you anywhere. You can get on a podium and chant MY MAP IS THE BEST AND ONLY MAP THERE IS; you’ll still be in place. You can have study circles and discuss the map; you haven’t gone anywhere either. You can judge/condemn others or use them as a pretext for why you haven’t done anything about yourself yet; it won’t help. You might spend all your time trying to instruct others on what you know (theoretically) of this journey, it will be hollow. You might try to save others from drowning, but the likelihood is you will all sink.
Memorizing the twists and turns of other people’s journeys might give you a clue as to what to expect. But at the end of the day, you must take the first step, and the next, and next… At the end of time, all the mazes, walls, water and illusions dissipate and you are left in stark aloneness wondering what held you back.
May Allah (SWT) grant you all soundness of belief, goodness of character, forgiveness of sins, and Your eternal pleasure in the Hereafter. Ameen
Credit: Salma Remani