Endings And Beginnings

Bismihi Ta’ala

For someone who writes stories, I think it’s natural for me to think of almost everything in terms of beginnings and endings, with each ending morphing into a new beginning.

Perhaps society and community encourage us to think in this way too – nursery, primary, high school – all have a start and an end, and then there’s uni and after that a career, marriage, kids, success… all phases that we come to believe will happen over neat, clearly defined pockets of time and allow us to have a ‘story’ at every point.

I once thought that I would have a set of stories as well.  Things that I could say about: “And that’s how it all began…”  but life hasn’t quite turned out that way.  There are things that I am still waiting for to end while other things have already started, with one phase overlapping the other and often, I realise that I am holding on to both threads, not managing to quite let go of one and in the process sometimes holding back the other.  It naturally gets considerably confusing :/

But then again, do things have to have a beginning and an ending?  I don’t remember the beginning of my existence for example.  Sure, I have a date and time to put to it, but no memory whatsoever.  When did I even become aware that I was? Vague recollections spanned out over years and experiences tell me that at some point in time, there was suddenly an entity called ‘I’ or ‘me’ but how it happened, what triggered and when it came into conscious being are all lost.

Someday I will end, but before that ending, so many other parts of me will have ended.  I am not the same person I was as a teenager, or as a young person or even what I was 4 or 5 years ago and I continue to change – trying to drop habits that are negative and adopt the ones that are positive, trying to become like the image of what I believe to be the ‘ideal me’.

I also believe in Life after Death, in an Reality beyond the one we witness with our 5 senses which then raises the question: If death is not the end of me, then what is ending? Just another phase of experience?  The only difference will be a change in dimension or environment, but ‘I’ will still remain and just as I have reacted and adapted over time to the various challenges life has thrown my way, I will have to react and adapt to the challenge that death will bring as well…

The scary bit is that the challenges of life are finite and definitive.  You look around you and you see billions of people going through a variety of difficulties and you know that any one of those could come your way…but you have a selection to prepare for.  With death however, there is nothing familiar that you can imagine or strengthen yourself in anticipation of.  It is the one closed door behind which lies the True Mystery of Life, the one Experience that no one can say the words: “I know what you’re going through” to console you with.  The only Journey you will take Alone.  Each of us.  All of us.

When I wrote the words above, it made me think that this must be the Real growing-up that we all will have to go through.  That moment when Illusion, Dreams, Ideals, Innocence and Ignorance all vanish in the face of Enlightenment.  It sounds exciting, but at the same time it’s extremely disconcerting because that experience of Knowing may be the ending of Spiritual Childhood, but it will also signify the beginning of Maturity.  There will be consequences to Knowledge that we will have to deal with – appreciation, regret, fear, love, despair, hope…heightened versions of so many emotions.

When will the Journey end? When will we finally be able to stop and say “This is it?”  I don’t think ever.  It is the beauty of the human being that he has a beginning, but will not have an end.  Whether we end up in Hell (God Forbid!) or in Heaven (God Willing), there will be Eternity awaiting us.  The stories we write for ourselves in the Present time will be what define our Future.  It may be a timeless experience of frustration, pain and loss or one of peace, contentment and pure joy, but either way, it will be For Ever.

Which makes me now sit and wonder – If I am going to exist without end, then what kind of an existence do I want to be?  Do I want to live with the knowledge that my time has been wasted and used up in worthless endeavours or do I want to analyse each minute, assess each action that I invest my energy into and make each moment count?  Because every second I have is the potential for a new beginning without end.  How many positive Never-Ending Stories can I start in what is remaining of my life?

S’laams,

bA

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9 thoughts on “Endings And Beginnings

  1. I did write quite a lot… Too much time on the train :$ Short is good 🙂

    Oh yes, I understand what you mean about our existence being eternal – I agree. I think our struggles define us and once we no longer struggle we no longer have a working definition of ourselves. That’s the end of what we know of us, is what I mean (not really the end of us). After that… I don’t know! Could still be a continuation of our current existence or we could be reborn/recreated in a different form based on our deeds. Hmm… But that’s something else and I’m not going to wander into it because I don’t even think I make any sense anymore 😛

    As always, looking forward to the next blog post!

    • Lol, I would have written a lot as well if I’d had the keyboard with me longer! 🙂

      I’ve actually thought a lot about (and heard from various speakers as well) that continuation of our existence and how different or similar it may be to what we are at present (or rather at that present moment of the ‘end’) and I think I now know what I’m going to blog about next 😉 So looking forward to continuing this conversation there, iA!

      S’laams,
      bA

  2. You say that “becoming aware of ourselves is a hard task”. I actually think it’s the hardest task of all! As in Goal-of-Life kind of hard. At the end of the day, stripping away the layers (or veils) of our selfishness, our egos, our ‘white lies’…this is what we have been told is the Greatest Struggle, right?

    Even amongst the most pious and the most scholarly, sincerity of action is the hardest thing to achieve and then to maintain after that. It’s literally an action to action challenge.

    I remember as a child, we used to be told of the bridge that we all have to cross to enter into Heaven and how it’s ‘thinner than a strand of hair’ and I never really understood what that meant until I realised how fine the line of self-awareness is and how easy it is to lose that sense of conscious being at any second.

    I think we all know ourselves to be liars at some level, but perhaps even knowing that is a step in the right direction? Better than being unaware of it or in denial, yes? At the end of the day, our only hope is to keep trying, to keep following the example of our Infallible Leaders (pbut), and to trust in the Absolute Mercy of our Lord…

    S’laams,
    bA

    • You’re absolutely right; becoming aware of ourselves is a life-goal. It’s actually a goal that most people never resolve. I think what deters/discourages people from practicing Islam in its complete form is this idea of struggling to reach God. In comparison, modern Christianity, to me, sounds a lot more peaceful and easier, like a watered down version of the original Christianity. Its ease comes from the belief in the incarnation of God’s descent and death for the sake of relieving the burden of punishment from mankind. Instead of us struggling to reach God, we’re told in modern Christianity, that God came to us. Doesn’t that sound a lot easier of a journey for us? Although I am intrigued by the simplicity of Christianity, I can’t say it’s the best way of living. This idea of God descending is a self-destructing perception as we’re the ones that should also be moving towards Perfection (forgive me for a strong opinion). Islam does say to be hopeful of God’s mercy as well as to be fearful of His punishment but this comes with (a lot of) struggle. However, I remember growing up being more cautious of preventing sin rather than cultivating a love for good deeds. Maybe a balance would have made things a tad easier.

      When you say that maybe there is no ending to “us” (as in, our spirit), it really does put me at unease. I want this struggle to be over one day, I want to be at peace one day, I want to forget this life and its hardships, close the book, and put it on the highest shelf. I look forward to an end to this book and I can only hope that this book (or maybe another book) will be given to me in my right hand.

      I do believe it is important to determine some endings in our lives, although we may not be aware of its beginning. Things like ending a relationship with sin is a self-determined end for so-and-so sin. We have to be able to draw limits for ourselves and determine when we will end certain things. Otherwise we start to live in a world of inessentials – of clutter, worry, stress… that could have been more easily removed at an earlier stage in our lives. Conscious life decisions puts us in control of ourselves and our inputs and outputs which is key to becoming aware of ourselves.

      Moreover, God is the Beginning in the same way as He is the End. In becoming aware of ourselves, we do, in fact, begin to understand our respective beginnings in the some way we understand our respective ends. So I truly do believe that I will one day (God-willing) be able to not only write a conclusion to my life, but also an introduction. I look forward to that day!

      Salaams

      • Quick one, because I’m rushing off from work – when I say there is no ending to us, I don’t mean that we will always be struggling. Only that we will continue to exist even beyond when we think we have reached an ‘end’. Based on our actions, we may well be forever at peace – knowing that we wrote a good story and can live out that story of bliss in His Presence 🙂

  3. You mentioned in the beginning that stories end but that morphs into a new beginning. Perhaps we do have (self-determined or divinely-determined) endings that morph into new beginnings as well. Or maybe we have many books being written at the same time, some longer than others. I think we’re all just writing book, after book, after book. We determine when we want to finish and start a new one, which ones will have a sequel, and which ones will be on the best sellers. It’s all up to us and our success lies in our deeds and actions.

    Salaam,
    Aliya

    • Thanks for stopping by, Aliya! 🙂

      It’s true, maybe we are writing book after book, simultaneously living different aspects of one existence. I guess, like with any story that has sequels and sub-plots, the one thing we must always be conscious of and question is how true we are being to ourselves. How authentic is our character? How reliable and how transparent?

      I often think that if we did this, we would become more aware of our selves and in the process become more aware of God! 🙂

      S’laams,
      bA

      • Sometimes in the process of finding ourselves, we get lost in the nonessential “chapters” of our books. Have you ever read those books that never get to the point or those books that just sound reliable due to its charismatic style? It’s difficult to determine if what we’re reading is actually the truth if we can’t differentiate between essential and nonessential. Becoming aware of ourselves is hard task and recognizing the level of authenticity of our character isn’t always clear. We get distracted in the process, maybe overly-dramatize some things, and we never really get to the core reason of our own unique existence.

        I have to admit, and I’m being quite honest, I’m a really good liar. So good that I fool myself into believing that I’m on the right path. At this point, I haven’t a clue if my heart is genuine or not. We’re fortunate that we examples to compare ourselves with and we’re even more fortunate that these examples we have are infallible. What’s (incredibly) essential in becoming aware of ourselves, and ultimately God, is recognizing the difference between us and the Ahlul Bayt because that’s what puts us into perspective.

        So these books we write… I wouldn’t blame anyone if they were all lies. It’s hard to be honest with ourselves because once we start, we’ll recognize how incredibly dastardly we act and no one ever wants to know the hard truth about themselves. Although, it is better if we recognize it now rather than later.

        Salaaam,
        Aliya

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