Yesterday was the start of a New Year, according to my religious calendar. And one of the things you have to do is to be thankful and count your blessings. I’m not going to lie. This year has been shitty for me. I am miserable at work and my self worth has taken a major beating. It feels terrible to be that unhappy and to doubt your own potential. I have always been unflinching in my belief that everything happens for a reason and goodness is right around the corner. But these last few months have sorely tested my faith. There have been days, dark, dark days when it feels like every exit is blocked and the more I try to get out, the deeper and further I am sucked right back in.The struggle just seems endless and pointless and at moments, even the laughter of my precious boy does not reach my heart. The burden of feeling useless, undervalued and discounted burrows deep into your soul into dark crevices where only sadness and hopelessness fester.
Then something happened which I have not spoken about to anyone, which forced me to try and change my perspective. It was an eye opener and it put me on a path to what I call, practicing perspective. It’s a struggle and I have to consciously work on it, but it works. It’s about focusing on the good and focusing on it with a single-minded determination. It’s reminding your self repeatedly of all the goodness in your life and feeling lucky about your blessings.
About 2 months ago, something quiet literally, snapped me out of my misery spiral. I work in a children’s hospital and my role is in research. Typically, what that means is that I am shielded from the realities of working in a children's hospital. That is, I am insulated from the horror, the heartaches and the intense joys that the hallways of my hospital bear testament to every day. That particular day however, as I was walking with my friends, my heart heavy, my shoulders stooped, barely listening to the conversation around me, I came across a Middle Eastern man sobbing. He may be Jewish or Arab, I don’t know, but he was staring at his phone and sobbing. I couldn’t stop myself from going over and asking if he was OK. Every fiber in my being was rebelling against what was coming next and I could hear a voice in my head, repeating manically, please don’t let it be what I think it is, please don’t let it be what I think it is! and all he did was point at the ward he was standing outside and then he started crying again.
He couldn’t speak English but I hope to this day that he has just received some bad news and not my worse fear; he had lost his child. His raw anguish, his grief was beyond measure or quantification. This poor man may have lost the light of his life, and here I was feeling sorry for myself. For what? Because my work sucks! While I could do nothing for that man but offer him empty platitudes that would do nothing to lessen his pain, I resolved at that moment to focus on the good in my life. So here I am, practicing perspective.
2. I am practicing perspective that I have a husband who despite having the burden of taking care of everything, never complains, who will do little things to remind me how loved I am. This is a man who knowing how much I love mangoes, but dislike the pulpy seed, will save the best parts for me while keeping the pulp for him self. Who comforts and encourages me to keep fighting. Who takes me to beaches so that we can watch our son frolic in the sun.
4. I am practicing perspective that I have friends who rally behind me to remind me my worth and when I need it, give me the kick in the ass to get me moving! I am fortunate that I have people who I can count on no matter what. It is powerful and gratifying all at once.
5. I am practicing perspective that I am healthy and capable of bringing another child into this world and the only thing stopping me are transient circumstances that will eventually change.
6. I am practicing perspective that I live in a breathtakingly beautiful country where I can fall asleep without being terrified that some asshole/shithead/racist/fundamentalist army/mob will bomb my home/murder my family/ brutalize me/trample my rights to live as I chose/ take away my house or land just because they want to and can.
7. I am practicing perspective that I have food when so many in this world have to watch their families and selves wither away without a morsel to eat. I have a roof over my head and after following #HONY in Pakistan these days, I am grateful that I will never have to suffer the horror, humiliation and helplessness of bonded brick kiln workers*. http://www.humansofnewyork.com/
8. I am practicing perspective that I am alive and my friend, who I only see in my dreams, is dead. That I have a support network, which makes me feel loved and cherished. I also feel sad that I could not for him what so many do for me.
9. I am practicing perspective that even when I am at my lowest, a little voice reminds me that a door will always be open and all I have to do is to ask and I will feel at peace.
10. I am practicing perspective that even when I thought nothing could replace Lost (only the best TV show ever!), I can still spend hours obsessing over Jon Snow's parentage and wait impatiently for the next season of my newest obsession Sense 8 #sense8rocks.
11. I am practicing perspective that I remembered how much reading nourishes my soul and I rediscovered Rumi, Shams, Murakami, Tolkien, Austen, Rowling, Shamsie, Hosseini, Parmuk, Ruiz Zafon and so many, many more wonderful authors who take me into their worlds and allow me to live countless lives. I am also humbled by the realization that while I have unfettered access to books, there are still places in the world where girls and women are killed for daring to read.
12. I am practicing perspective that every humiliation is a lesson and that after every storm there is sunlight and I will live to fight another day.
* Please read Humans of New York's blog or follow them on Facebook. If you feel like donating, and can donate, even better! Syeda Fatima, who is featured in their visit to Pakistan section, is a true inspiration. Fatima has been working tirelessly, at great personal cost, to protect the bonded laborers in Pakistan. Bonded labor is modern slavery. Its a barbaric practice where countless generations are bound to spend their entire lives working to pay of a debt that never ends. Syeda Fatima is a superhero in every sense of the word.