This entry will be a bit different. It is perhaps – well, probably – slightly cheesy. But a bit of ‘cheesy’ is not necessarily a bad thing; I think cheese in moderation, much like a creamy slice of Havarti, can often add some much-needed satisfaction to a daily routine of unsalted crackers.
I have been thinking lately about what brings me fulfilment in life, and I discovered that the key components of my general satisfaction and happiness at this moment in time could be summed up in five words, all of which start with the letter F. So below I outline a list of my FIVE Fs (+1) for FULFILMENT as I see them unfold in my daily life.
Faith comes first for me because discovering and uncovering my intimate bond with God has been the greatest gift of my life, and sustaining this bond is my biggest priority. The imam at the mosque I attend for Friday prayer said last week that one’s faith is embodied in one’s patience and gratefulness. It is seeing the blessing in everything and treating all of God’s creations with compassion and tolerance. That is what living as a Muslim, which translates from Arabic as “one who submits” to the Almighty, has helped me discover in the purest sense. Regular prayer, regular charity, fasting, righteous deeds, patience, perseverance and honesty are all essential components of faith.
In the past two years since I started nurturing this bond with God, or Allah in Arabic, I’ve faced some difficult times. I’ve lost a parent, endured a relationship breakup, been laid off of a job, to name a few. My faith has given me the patience to work through life’s ups and downs, and I’ve never been happier than I have been in the past two years. I strive each day to be grateful and for the blessings in my life, and to be patient and thankful for all of the trials I face. Yasmin Mogahed, a superbly talented writer on Islamic spirituality, recently sent a tweet that encapsulates this bond within the 140-character limit. She tweeted: “To be most successful: when you're with the Creator, be with the Creator, and when you're with the creation, also be with the Creator.”
Faith comes first in my discovery of fulfilment each day because it is the common thread weaving together all of the other components.
Family has always been important to me. But until my father passed away almost two years ago, I didn’t realise in the deepest sense how important it is to constantly nurture my bond with those who are closest to me. One of the greatest consequences of uncovering my faith was discovering the honour that comes with treating ones parents with compassion and care. This has led me to strengthen and deepen my bond with my mom. Being close to family, taking care of them, knowing they are healthy and happy brings me great fulfilment. In a world where very little is consistent and people are leaving our lives as quickly as they entered them, our closest, dearest family members can form the rock on which we stand; this rock is always firm and helps us hold ourselves straight and tall.
I have a sister who is many years younger than I am. During her teens in Canada, I was away a good deal of time pursuing a journalism career in Egypt and then Dubai. This gave us very little chance to bond during her formative years and I could sense the void whenever we were together. Almost three years ago, that changed. She came to live with me and found a job in the same city, and in the time since we formed that bond I had missed out on earlier. Her presence transformed my cold, indifferent world away from home into a place that was quite suddenly full of closeness and meaning. I started to see my surroundings differently and the soul-less city began to feel more like a soulful home than just a place I was working. There are few greater blessings than developing and treasuring one’s bond with parents and siblings.