Flushing the Past – My Journey Towards Serenity
By Sameer Anees – a strategy consultant by profession
For as long as I can remember I have poked fun and moaned about something incessantly.
I have complained about the music Bollywood makes and the lack of nous of our television pundits. I have whined about people, who come too late to parties, and dissed people, who come too early to parties. I have always been judgmental about gentlemen, who insist on featuring corduroys and checks, as part of their fashion sensibilities. I have picked on the boring graveyard that is our nation’s proud capital city Islamabad, the lack of deodorant usage in our communities and the state of latrine facilities in public and private schools. I have looked into every conceivable Pakistani political party’s ‘actionable items’ list and come away heartbroken. In short, I occupied myself with mundane matters that should not have merited any attention whatsoever.
I was nowhere close to serenity.
Over the past half decade, my negativity took on another colour and favour.
The critique, the shame and the guilt were pointed squarely in my own direction. In my mind, I was a sorry excuse for a human being that was living a tinted coloured farce for the world and a dark miserable existence for myself.
Again, I was nowhere close to serenity.
Fact is, I am an addict. I have perpetrated some questionable things to feed my addiction. I have hurt those I love most; I have hurt myself even more. For a long time, I did not even acknowledge my disease or my powerlessness to it. By the grace of the Almighty, that changed recently, as I sought serous professional help and have been in happy recovery since. What changed? Where did the strength come from? And how?
For many eons, I had kept up the charade of what I call ‘enforced morality’. However, over time I learnt that anything, which is enforced, lacks the power that comes with the ‘choice’ of living in sobriety. I am no angel today, far from it, but I am making conscious choices to improve myself – to address my character deficits.
These choices are coming from within, and the Almighty is helping me make to make them. Allah (swt) is providing the strength, the means and the way out of this self-inflicted destruction laden quagmire. In the past I lived my life by default. I was unwilling, unable and often powerless to make real meaningful choices about how I wanted to act, what I preferred to do or even how I wished to think. Not today!
As I write this, the sky here in sunny Karachi is blue and warm, my hair looks perfect and the tire on my stomach seems a tad smaller. Most importantly, my soul feels a lot less damaged and I am finding great comfort in peace from reaching out to the Almighty and reading His word. I am in a good mood. I am being kind to myself. I am serene. I am so serene that I can’t even get myself riled up thinking about the pathetic comments made by President Emmanuel Macron of France or get my knickers in a twist over Nawaz Sharif’s poker face.
Good luck to all concerned is what I say. Good luck to all those people, who suffer this affliction, and also those around that have been affected by it. Especially those, who have come to acknowledge their own powerlessness and the power of Allah (swt) to restore them to good health. With that will come the realization that serenity is the ultimate recognition of having the acceptance to face the things one cannot change, courage to change the things one can and the wisdom to know the difference between them.
The extent of my serenity can be determined by the fact that today U-turns, right turns and left turns do not really matter to me. After all, even our politicians must be constantly fatigued by non-stop battles with their conscience. It can’t be easy saying every day you are going to do something and then doing the exact opposite. Therefore, peace to all the Islamic Republic’s politicians – you are off my agenda today and for the foreseeable future.
It’s what I am doing and how I am feeling that truly matters.
Even the news about Pakistan cricket is cheery this week. Despite selectorial prejudices keeping him out of the Pakistan test cricket team for decades, Fawad Alam has left matters to Allah (swt), has not given up and continued to serve up specials. A match winning hundred for Sindh in the recently concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy is ample embodiment of his deep serenity.
Alam is hardly spoken of. He is the John Paul Jones, the Bill Wyman, the Adam Clayton – the shy but solid bassist of Pakistan cricket, and like any other bassist, he does the small things right and continues to deliver from the shadows. I have reviewed the scorecards and observed him closely on the field! But hardly anyone other than his parents or myself ever seem to know he is playing. Despite all this, he inspires and performs. The credit he says lies “with the Almighty” and the serenity he draws from Him.
Therefore, all of you, who are also struggling with life, are advised to watch him closely and be inspired by him, because I truly think he can handle Trent Boult, a meal with Maulana Fazl and the launch codes of our nuclear arsenal.
Be like Fawad Alam. Give serenity a chance!