I so often sought perfection to the extent that it would prevent me of doing anything that would result in less. This eagerness to excel has almost been the main drive behind all my decisions as long as I can remember. I don’t choose a specific path because I can see I’d be beneficial in it, because I believe in it’s importance or even because it’s enjoyable and I can see myself doing it in the coming years. I’d rather choose it because I know I can excel in doing this thing. This competitive nature of mine is self destructive and it may end up one day having no obvious answer for why everything in your life is the way it is. So, although it’s a little bit late, I’ve had a change of mind a couple of years ago, and the new me is struggling so I thought it might help if I share the experience.
Nowadays, I try to do my best and pray for things to go the way I want them to. However, I don’t know about you but at least I know that for me it’s not that often that I get a feeling of self-satisfaction. Satisfaction not because everything is perfect. On the contrary, everything is not perfect, actually every thing is a mess, however, I am satisfied. I know I am currently doing my best in the 3 or 4 aspects that I’ve set as my goal to improve, and so I’m satisfied and I’ll continue to do whatever it is that I’m trying to do. However, that doesn’t mean that anything is remotely close to being in the state it should be, but still I am satisfied, I am not over the moon, but I’m satisfied.
I guess this is because while doing these efforts, whoever does them, these helpless baby steps are insignificant to any human being. When you’re doing a workout in your room, no one else can see you, sure as hell it won’t have an instantaneous impact on your health or looks and you’re 90% of the time thinking how am I ever going to put myself again through this pain tomorrow or the day after ? and why ?
I guess this as trivial as it sounds is related to :
﴿ وَأَنْ لَيْسَ لِلْإِنْسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى وَأَنَّ سَعْيَهُ سَوْفَ يُرَى ثُمَّ يُجْزَاهُ الْجَزَاءَ الْأَوْفَى ﴾
Each one of us has a bunch of stuff he’d like to improve, we’ve no clue how we should improve them and the only thing we’re sure of is that it’s a tiring long way from where we’re currently standing. So, so many times we end up giving it all up. And end up having a lazy life with no challenges whatsoever, each and every one of us has gone through at least a couple of days with this mentality, killing time in whatever it is that has no positive impact whatsoever on our future lives, this one or the next. What I try to constantly remind myself of is:
“عن عمره فيما أفناه”
That day will come, and I’ll be asked about what I’ve done in this life. I can say each and every baby step that I’ve put my efforts in, those that were of no use in this dunyah but now they’re answering this question for me. The other option would be what? Say I’ve done nothing?
Do it. Whatever it is that you might now think is insignificant because it most probably won’t pay off. Do it anyways because your creator – the one who matters the most – cares. Some people miss out on how important some things are. They think those are for our own leisure only, with absolutely no value to Allah. When I force myself to do some physical exercise, because I believe it’s better for my health and looks; I’m no fakih but I believe that is of higher value to Allah than doing nothing. When I learn a new language, read something that interests me, take a good care of myself and my body, help put a smile on someone’s face, I believe that should all matter because otherwise the substitute would be watching some useless series on TV for endless hours.
Although I most probably won’t be a professional athlete, a fluent speaker of this new language I’m learning or the most knowledgable person in this topic I decided to read or learn about, I believe this is between me and Allah. If I’m not bragging, no one else knows, then this is purely an effort towards being a better person and what could be of higher value to him? I believe it takes more courage to run a race when you can’t see the finish line, and that’s exactly what we do. Only he knows I’m doing it, moreover, only he knows how clueless I am and yet how determined I am knowing he’s seeing it all and rewarding me for all these efforts that may be of no substantial gain in this dunyah.
So often do I tell myself these things, however, I end up doing nothing. Ask anyone who’s lost some extra weight for example, nothing is as hard as the first step. Once someone has complemented you on your looks, you all of a sudden find no urge in you to take that extra bite, suddenly chocolate is not as heavenly as it’s always been. Well, that’s one hard thing to start from the scratch but what’s even harder is the “slow down”, when you’re moving forward in a really good pace and then something happened and now you’re a little behind. Now, it’s even harder to start over, my mind is telling me you’ve already gone through this pain once, against all odds and it didn’t pay off, now it’s time to lose hope and adapt with the situation.
For this tedious mind that I have, that keeps repeating those words over and over again, I’ve only one short and precise answer for it to shut up.
As cliché as it sounds but it paid off you desperate yawning creature! It paid off when I first started against all odds and Allah saw me doing whatever it is that may sound impossible in order for me to be a better, more productive version of my self, and it’ll pay off when I start all over again against all odds with a heavier heart because of my previous failure, because all of the admiration in people’s eyes is now gone. Yet I don’t care, I only care about Allah and in the best possible way, investing in myself and my beloved ones and hopefully the whole muslim nation one day. And he’ll show me the way:
﴿ وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللهَ لَمَعَ المُحْسِنِينَ ﴾
-صدق الله العظيم.