I had never experienced a year like the last when I finally realised that my life was perpetually plummeting down a boundless hole. You never know the end of a nosedive until it hits you. Shifting my mental composure and life philosophies, life hit me hard and without warning. I read different books, darker books, spent the majority of my time chasing vain goals in the name of self-improvement. And, much like walking in the dark, I felt confused and questioned myself frequently. I found comfort in, consoled myself with, the thought that any pain that I am feeling will add to my strength and life experience. It did in a way. But oh how wrong I was…

The journey was one of self-actualisation – or so I thought. I became obsessed with the notion of self-improvement, and focused intensely on my social skills, skills I was desperately lacking leaving school. I fantasised on ungrounded expectations of returning to my family a different person, a man, so to speak. I talked more, met more people, laughed more. But the more I turned outwards for my validation, the more I felt empty. I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted to be strong. So I did the only thing I knew how to: I continued…

I learnt how to speak in different accents, learnt different languages, practiced being strong, being weak, being funny, being angry, all within limits of course. I lost faith in who I was as a person, and more importantly, who I was becoming. I doubted and questioned my motives. Why? Who do I want to be? Why do I want to be him? What does it all matter in the end? I continued…

I met all sorts of people, people I would have never dared talk to or approach. I allowed people to trample over me; I got a kick out of it. All I needed, truly, was some sort of recognition. What did I want to achieve? Fame? Celebrity? I don’t know. But the better I got, and indeed I got good, the farther the goal seemed to me, and the deeper I dug into the confines of my own psyche. I abused my mind and my soul, and without realising it, became obsessed with my new addiction.

My depression lead me further down. Wanting to rely on myself and my mind, I kept far away from external guidance such as religion, and as a result, I lost touch with my own internal moral compass. I became an empty vessel, adorned and furnished with the most extravagant colours and designs, but an empty vase nonetheless, until…

One night, I voiced my internal screams to the closest person there was to me. I scared that person away, and was proud of myself for it, for I noticed everyone who was ever close to me slowly drifting away. Was I happy? The answer was simple but disappointing. That is, until I embraced the Book, the Quran that freed me of my thought and reminded me of the man I once was, ignorant and indifferent to the glamour and splendour of external value. I remembered, I always looked deeper. And so like that, my life was transformed. I saw happiness and light in things that would elude me time and again. I connected with people, and was very clear with my intentions and actions. I formed attachments again with those that I feared so to lose. I reunited with my purpose.

Starting exercise happened around the same time, which allowed me to channel out much of the excess negative energy that was now a part of me. I vowed to keep it up every day, and ignore the effects (good or bad) or consequences. I started to lose weight, though I did not care at the time. But back in London where little value is given to me at all on a deeper level, that became all that I valued. My image in the mirror gave me my self-confidence, and took it away just as easily. I was afraid to break my vow, even though it was eating away at me. I lost my appetite for food, and found consolation only in my reading of wisdom and religious texts. Soon, I lost even the ability to think. My energy had depleted, and I was again a dead rock at the bottom of the sea. Though I kept my vow.

Only when I returned with my family did I feel whole again. I saw my old friends, ate my old food, but kept many of the habits that have now become a part of me; I would not let anyone interfere with my “system,” as I called it, detrimental as it may be, it was nothing short of perfection to me. This hunger had become my friend, and soon took over again, replacing once more my real friends.

It was a tough battle, one not easily won, but inevitably won nonetheless… to some extent. I had learned a valuable lesson from my reading that rid me once of my hunger. It was wisdom that amalgamated all other wisdom. I had written about it before, so I need not repeat myself (see my article: Institutionalise). But now I wanted to see what I could do alone. I went against the grain, striving for something so close, yet only just too far out of reach, as nothing but my own psyche was stopping me from achieving this goal. Goal? What goal. Again it was darkness. I knew not what I wanted, only that I wanted to build up my body every day. To what end? I didn’t know. Yet I continued, searching for the key that would unlock my mind. Alone, I wanted to achieve the result. But how could I, I never achieved anything truly alone? And that is the enigma that I so desperately needed an answer for. How can I strive alone, when everyone and everything else goes against me. Do I run away? Do I conform until the opportunity arises? Do I derive my inspiration and validation from my reading, and is that enough? I know one thing about success, and that is that it requires hard work, discipline, patience, and the divine command of “Be,” and it is…

I am afraid that if I stop, I will lose all that that I worked to hard to attain. I am afraid that I will lose motivation and confidence in myself. I am afraid that my vanity will be the only thing drives me, but will some day be the only thing that stands in my way of achieving that which I want. In the end, is it worth the trouble and pain? Can I find the solution, or perhaps, is the solution just to give up?

I will leave with this:

“There was a certain original man who desired to catch his own shadow. He makes a step or two toward it, but it moves away from him. He quickens his pace; it does the same. At last he takes to running; but the quicker he goes, the quicker runs the shadow also, utterly refusing to give itself up, just as if it had been a treasure. But see! Our eccentric friend suddenly turns round, and walks away from it. And presently he looks behind him; now the shadow runs after him. Ladies fair, I have often observed… that Fortune treats us in a similar way. One man tries with all his might to seize the goddess, and only loses his time and his trouble. Another seems, to all appearance, to be running out of her sight; but, no: she herself takes a pleasure in pursing him.”

Recognition: Thank you Mike Tyson, for giving me permission to lose hope in myself, only to regain it in my humanity.


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