Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Aiming To Please

That man is a creature who needs order yet yearns for change is the creative contradiction at the heart of the laws which structure his conformity and define his deviancy.

For as long as I remember, going against the grain has been the point of contention between my parents and I. Just because the wisdom of your parents made little sense then (when most of their recommendations were perceived as stumbling blocks, too conservative, boring). Not cool. Some of them did not make sense. Most of them were just noise I wanted to block out.

Conformity has always been my struggle from the moment I figured out that it was okay to have my own voice because it felt better to have power over what you want to do with your life. My subconscious voice is not always right though. Especially when I make mistakes, I often feel like I have failed my parents, or worse, myself. But when I do get it right, I felt like my existence is validated, I have made my mark. I mattered.

To people. It had meant a lot to me impress people. I do go the extra mile to do exactly that.

My dad used to say, make sure you get it right the first time. Although in hindsight, it meant that I have to take pride in what I set my mind to do, be responsible and accountable for it, do my best, be sincere and there rest will fall into place. No half-cooked endeavours was the real message.

I took it the wrong way, as if there was no room for mistakes. That used to be why I did not try a lot of things, did not go places I wanted to, gave up too early the things I did try. Failed miserably.

I tried everything else that weren't productive, some of them damaging, a few of them down-right dangerous. Look at where it got me? No, I do not have a rap sheet, thank Allah! Things that I was really good at, it did not make it into my parents' good books. Even if they were proud of me, it was a big secret. For a long time while I was growing up, the Malay folks that I knew then were really quiet when it came to their real feelings. I, on the other hand, was American-ized by television. My expectations and sense of entitlements were bizarre.

I struggled with people's judgment despite my recklessness in deviant indulgences as half the time I thought, what-the-hey, what people don't know won't hurt them. The awkward period when you lack foresight, your principles and education get muddled with what is fun for the moment, and most of the time the feeling of invincibility get the better of you. I know now, I have made lots of mistakes, hurt a lot of people and sadly in the process I hurt myself coming to terms with disappointing people and worst of all, disappointing myself.  I wanted. No, I needed to be a star to feel important. But I did it for the wrong reasons, with the wrong people. It landed me in a series of unfortunate events that were necessary to educate me, for the kind of person I was then.

Fortunately though,  people are kind, people are forgiving, some people have let things slide, but most people don't forget. That hurts me everyday. But I am here. Present and accountable. I hope that makes a little difference. I acknowledge that people have given me second, third, fourth chances and maybe more. Some have even forgiven me even before I could muster the courage to ask for forgiveness.

I remember Dad telling me that if your relationship with Allah is good and meaningful to you, you will be inclined to do what is pleasing to Him. Keep your prayers in check, that's what he kept telling me when I came crawling back home, each time a wounded teenage puppy. It made little sense to me then. It made me hate going home, even when I did not have anywhere else to go.

Counting down to the somewhat dreaded big 4-Ohs, I can safely say I am happy that I am being primed into assuming a different path, not any less exciting, in life. Every time I feel the tendency to keep up appearances before people, I am fortunate to always be reminded ( by way of the glitches that happen) that things will be great the first time I do it, when I keep doing what is pleasing to Allah. With the awareness that it will be great because Allah wills it. And that what matters most is when He is pleased with me. If things don't turn out, then, cest la vie! What will be will be...

Maybe now I am more aware of Allah's little mercies and blessings. I am blessed that I have long left what used to be perceived as juvenile fun, i.e. living a dangerous life on the wild side. I am still a newbie in a lot of things, and some of the things I am doing now are pretty wild but the thought processes that I go through before I take a step veers me away from going over the edge. Have I got this grown-up thing down pat? I ask myself.

I have been taught not to think and dwell on my past for my repentance to be meaningful. I am still in the process of training and learning to be a submitter and a prayerful servant. The beauty of this endeavour is that I am dealing with only Allah. He knows my struggles and I know in my heart, He listens and He understands. And He will gladly Forgive me when I ask.

That is my motivation. I am resolved to do good. And die whilst doing something pleasing by Allah. Insha Allah.

P.S: Two consequent posts are sounding somewhat morbid and still very self-indulgent. I don't wish it to be a vanity project. Maybe this coming of age thing is making me a little bit reflective.  And that is a positive. Let's just see how this blogging thing pan out for me this time around...

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