All posts by Moonzzzzz

About Moonzzzzz

Just a guy with a few cool ideas.

Snapshot

Not having uploaded anything in the past few months, I realised that I was waiting for a burst of inspiration that simply defeated the purpose of writing in the first place. I see now articles, stories, poems, and conversations as snapshots. Not snapshots of one’s appearances or surroundings, but rather of their thoughts and ideas, their emotions and the experiences that they are going through. Just as everyone has bad hair days, so must they have days where they find it more difficult to write. I recently read through one of my old blog posts and thought to myself, “wow (mashalla), I would not be able to write like that now.” Well, in a way, expecting to be able to is akin to expecting myself to look like I did last year (which is not necessarily a good thing), and mind you my thoughts develop much faster than my looks. That article was a snapshot of my thoughts and feelings back then, just as much as this is a snapshot of where I am now.

How then, does one develop, while it is inevitable that they will forget what they once knew? The Quran strikes a beautiful parable of water descending from the sky, and bringing to life to the lifeless earth. Thence flourishes plants of different types and colours blossoming each one in its unique way. They turn yellow before long, and scatter into dust a short while after. Such are our blessings. We have been given the blessing of thought and understanding, skills and proficiencies, so we should use them while we have them. Some may stay with us for mere hours, like the smile held on our faces after parting a good friend, and others for a lifetime and beyond if God permits, such as religious knowledge.

On the continuation and proliferation of blessings. Come the rule, “little yet constant is greater than large amounts yet sporadic” regarding our actions. Pray not to read 10 books  a year, but rather to read a page a day, for a feeble stream of water can sink a ship in a day, while 10 buckets of it at once can dream not to do so.

On trust, do not trust everything no matter how fast your heart leaps for it. What is good will stay with you inadvertently if you are good, and what is bad will soon filter off into its flock of similar making. Be sure of a path of action before striking the road, as once it has been struck, it is better to not leave or stray. And then have confidence in your direction regardless of results at first. Walk, and do not run, the path with your heart rather than your feet, as your feet soon tire, but your heart has supplements of its own. Know your path: look out for holes and thorns. And stare not towards the destination nor towards the path itself, but rather gaze at the horizon, as little is more beautiful and conducive to keep walking.

Focus

Two thirds of the ability to see requires the ability to turn a blind eye. When the stage lights are concentrated towards a tree on the stage, everyone’s gaze turns towards that tree. They see not the princess falling, or the prince valiantly saving her from her doom. They see not the guy scratching his nose five rows down, or the red seats that seemed so bright when they walked in. They see a tree, its branches straight and strong, leaves ever so green.

As is life. We see what our hearts and minds have been trained to focus on. If our brains were to process every photon that hit our retinas, they would have malfunctioned within seconds of us opening our eyes. Without the ability to recognise patterns, to say this a tree, a word, a face, and ignore the rest of the millions of megabytes of information we take in, our eyesight would be meaningless.

So I need not tell you what you already know, but I shall do so nonetheless: See only what you must. Ignore whatever else. There will be a time to turn your gaze towards that which matters less. And remember, your focus determines your reality.

Imaginary Numbers Made Easy

I like math. Let me show you why…

Numbers are cool. They help us do stuff. For example, if you wanted to calculate how many days it would take you to read all my blog posts, and you read at a speed of, say, 1 blog post every 3 days, considering that I have exactly 10 published blogs to date, it would take you exactly 30 days (if my head is still on the right way around) to accomplish your task. That was mundane, but did you see my logic? 30 days is equal to 3 days, 10 times; or as mathematicians would call it 3 times 10.

I believe numbers are a creation of our minds, but thats more of a philosophical debate. Lets get down to the math, or history rather. People started using numbers when they saw similarities between two separate objects with similar features. An orange is round, orange coloured, and has a skin. Put a couple of them next to each other, and you suddenly have more than just single objects. You have a pair, or more lexicographically correctly, “two” of the same thing, “two oranges!” Now you can have three, four, five, etc. oranges and that would completely make sense, right? Stay with me.

It was soon of course that people realised that you can cut an orange in approximately half – lets just say it was exactly half for the time being. They didn’t know what half was; all they knew that it was not one of the numbers that they were used to using in counting. So they had to extend the number system to accommodate this. So if you put an orange next to another orange, it is no longer one orange, nor is it two, but it is somewhere in between. And hence a new type of number was born a fraction.

People quickly noticed that you don’t only have to “add” oranges, but if you are selling them, you are “subtracting” from the total amount.  If you had 5 oranges, and you sold 2, how many are left? Besides sounding like a child’s math problem, think of what we are doing. We can think of it as “subtracting” 2 from 5: we are left with 3. So now if a merchant wanted to sell 9 oranges, but only had 5, but urgently needed the money. He could strike a deal: sell 9, give 5, and deliver the remaining 4 later. But doesn’t that mean that he has no oranges, he has less than none! I think you can see where I’m going with this. Hence the birth of the negative number.

As you can see, the number line keeps on extending to accommodate for concepts that were initially not possible to grasp. Now imagine numbers not as a number of things, but a thing in its own right.

An now we bite into the meat of the situation. Adding 1 and 1 and 1 gives 3. This is the same as multiplying 1 by 3 (effectively adding 1’s this many times). Multiplying 2 and 2 and 2 is 8. This is the same as raising 2 to the power of 3 (multiplying 2’s this many times). Going backwards with multiplication is dividing 3 by 3 (asking what multiplied by 3 gives 3) yields the initial answer 1. Now rooting 8 to the component of 3 (asking what raised to the power of 3 gives 8) yields 2.

Think of raising 2 to the power of 2. You get 2 times 2 equals 4. Do the same with a negative 2. Knowing two negatives give a positive, hence you also get 4. Therefore the root with component 2 of 4 gives both 2 and negative 2 (written -2). Now lies the question: what raised to the power of 2 gives -4? A difficult question to answer, one that stumped centuries of mathematicians. But now, we introduce the concept of an imaginary number, which raised to the power of 2 will give a negative number. It is just as real as an any number, just as real as having -4 oranges, or 1.5 oranges. Imaginary is just a name, not a truth about the number system. Trust me, mathematicians are not very imaginative.

Thanks! Hope this helped broaden your imagination. C ya!

Title

Many a time when we feel we have been blinded for so long. It only takes one thought to bring us close enough to see the sparkle of shimmering light from the depths of the cave of our mind.

I once asked myself why it is that I want what I so desperately desire? What would I gain from achieving it? What does it have to do with my goals and how I feel in the future?

For so long, I have desired recognition. I can’t be blamed, simply because, who doesn’t? Recognition is considered in many sciences a fundamental human desire, along with food, water, and shelter. We want to be known, we want to be talked about, we want to be remembered. We want to fascinate others, and inspire others, and be a role model for others to follow. But I shall ask once more: Why?

The deepest desire that lies within out hearts cannot escape into the realm of the real world, where other humans are, and what things seem like. What we want is a feeling. We want to learn so that we are more knowledgeable than someone we know, or not yet perhaps. We want to work so that we seem more productive than others, or that we have more money. This is the case in most situations, but I will not go so far as to say all. But here lies a fundamental flaw in our notions and views in the world. We are associating our dreams with what others do, instead of what we do. We work so that we see results, but those results do not always come. Two people could do the exact same thing, work equally hard, and smart, but in the end, one achieves the goal… and the other does not.

Answer me this: Which of the two is happier at the time of victory?

We should be happy with our efforts, as they cannot be judged. I wanted to be someone inspiring and amazing to others, just because I like the feeling of someone saying “mashalla.” This soon turned into a fantasy of pleasing others, even if it means downplaying what I believe in. I see others on screens that inspire me, and desire to be like them. I ask myself, what are they feeling? Are they constantly feeling good from being praised? Or perhaps see that twinkle in the eye of their audience? They most certainly do not, for that is not their goal nor their focus. What they feel is confidence in themselves on the back of hundreds of hours of hard work, and a drive towards a goal they feel is worth their time, if not their dear life. So I ask myself again, why do I so want to be in their position, where I won’t even feel what I assumed I would feel? The feeling of looking back into my own eyes years earlier and saying that I did it, now I’m famous or whatever. What is it that I did by focusing on being popular, wasting my time, instead of focusing on a goal and being amazing to myself to do what I think deserves doing.

Look at people in the past. They are on talk shows not because they can talk, or can entertain a crowd. Every third person on the street could do something of the likes. They are on there because they have done something outside a crowd that deserves reckoning. Boxing, manufacturing, running, inventing. What matters is what you do when no one is watching.

I end my short statement with a question. I would be interested to hear what you have to say. Sometimes, focusing on something really hard can help you attain it. But other times, focusing can cause you to backtrack, and you end up losing what it was that you initially wanted. A classical example is friends. Wanting someone to be your friend too much can make you seem needy, whereas ignoring someone can be a premise to make them more determined to gaining your favour. My question is: When is it that focus facilitates achievement, and when is it the opposite?

 

P.s. I wanted to write a short apology here for not having anything really interesting or engaging to say. But why apologise for expressing myself. No one is forcing you to read. Peace.

Imperfection

Blinded by the bombardment of modern world ideas, centred around the pursuit of happiness, as portrayed through movies, books, and false ideas of success, I could not see the world for what it really is. We, as humans, search for good for ourselves in all its forms, each individual according to his/her own understanding of the concept, as forged by society around us and our life experiences. What do we define “success” as? In essence, this is what shapes us, and makes us who we are. We have limited time in our earthly endeavour. So the most important question pertaining to us is: what do we strive toward; what is our endeavour?

Since childhood, I was searching for a way to better myself, to improve my character, and in this way be a beacon of light, among others like myself, to my ever extending family of human beings. In all truth, I strived to be the beacon, never content with being just one of many. I have listened intently to story after story of how a person in history rose to power, or attained a version of himself that I would be satisfied with if it were me. But still, I wanted more. I heard how Einstein was called a genius, and how Napoleon was called “great,” how Tesla was “brilliant,” and Umar ibn al-Khattab was “just.” I heard these noble labels, but I wanted to attain more. What more? What more can even be achieved than those who had better circumstances and resources, stronger willpowers, and a level of focus that could pierce through mountains? I can only dream of my name being among theirs in the books of history.

I always heard that changing the world for one person is still changing the world. Yet, I carried on, holding onto the fire in my heart that screamed for more, yearned for fame. Fame? Is that what I want? I always heard that a small act of recurring kindness is better than one big change. I believed it. But did I act it? I always saw that inner integrity brings more satisfaction than a strive to be better than another, who in fact is striving much the same strive. Yet, I did not internalise what I saw.

I wanted happiness in the ‘quick fix’ sense of the word. I failed to see that attaining a hidden power is more valuable than attaining one that people can see. I thought that someone calling me good would be enough of a repayment for my help… It should have been enough just to know that they are happy.

The truth of the matter is that the world is imperfect. Be unlucky now, learn valuable lessons to coping with your circumstances. This, in turn, brings luck in the future, when your ‘quick fix’ luck inevitably runs out. So why not enjoy being hurt a little now, so that when it really matters, you can cope. The world is imperfect. There are no such things as happy endings. You are never the strongest, or smartest, or prettiest, or most powerful. Do not place your standards by these bars, as they are relative, and you will almost always be disappointed. Rather hang your standards by two things: the amount of good you have brought about for others, and that you are better today than you were yesterday. Those two things are what really count. The world doesn’t end, in a sense. Life goes on, with or without you. What ends, at some point, is you, and its not your job to make it a happy ending, but much rather a good one for the world, for even after the ending, there is another beginning.

My final words of advice to myself is to be confident. Confidence comprises not only of what one feels, but how he acts. To be confident doesn’t mean to act as if there are no limits. That is overconfidence. Confidence is knowing your limits, and working together with them, and training yourself to push them back some. To be confident, you must be patient. Sometimes, all you can do is stand still, and wait for the leaves to fall into place. All, sooner or later, realise that time flies. What was once is no more. This is the journey of life. Learn to be comfortable with this, learn the in’s and out’s of this trait of the world, and accept it as fact. Forgetting it will not make it disappear, just as sleeping in on a given day doesn’t make the day’s work go away. Know that a month will feel like a day, and that what was once young and brittle will mature and strengthen and become old and brittle once more. Do not regard death as something that will happen later, but rather that is happening now as you go through life, through every step, and every breath. At one point, it will be the pertinent reality. It is your final act in this finite sequence of acts. If you think about it, nothing is in your control. The world is imperfect. We are not here to set it straight, but rather set ourselves straight, in hopes that it will follow for a short while.

Jalan-Jalan di Negara Malaysia

Saya datang di negara Malaysia dua minggu lalu. Sebelum ini, saya tidak cakap bahasa melayu, dan tak faham bahasa. Pada waktu malam, hari-hari, pada pukul dua pagi, saya belajar, dan belajar cepat.

Beberapa hari nanti, orang suka saya, dan terkejut. “Anda belajar sangat cepat, mashala.” Saya lihat orang berbeda, kerana saya, pelan-pelan belajar, dan bercakap bahasa mereka.

Saya tahu, saya bercakap tidak bagus. Atau, saya bercakap, sidikit-sidikit. Semua orang-Malaysia meminta saya, “Oh bercakap melayu, di mana belajar.” Dan saya, “di sini, di internet.” Sama jawapan untuk semua.

Pertama hari, bapa saya tak percaya bahawa saya boleh belajar pada holiday ini. Jadi, saya tahu ia adalah benar.

Hari ini hari terakhir saya dalam Malaysia. Saya sedi. Saya sedi tidak kerana holiday saya selesai. Saya sedi kerena saya ditanam benih, dan munkin tidak pernah melihatnya lagi…

The Power of a Crisis

A crises should not be viewed as anything less than an opportunity — however difficult it may seem — where people become aware of, and willing to, change their habits to get back on their feet, and not fall in the same hole twice.

Take the years of drought in the time of the second Muslim Caliph, for example, where people only ate bread and oil and cattle died of starvation, leaving no more than skin on bone. The Caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab RA, seized the opportunity by sharing food across the new territories, creating a sense of unity among the Arabs and new Muslims. Further, he himself, the ruler at the time, strived to be the poorest of the people, increasing the sense of justice in the land and encouraging others to practice patience throughout tough times.

As Rahm Emanuel put it, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

(Idea from the book: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg)

Los Cuatro Estudiantes

Cuatro estudiantes decidieron viajar a una ciudad lejana el fin de semana, antes de un examen muy importante. El último día de su viaje se sentían perezosos y no querían volver, por lo que decidieron quedarse en aquella ciudad unos días más.

Cuando por fin regresaron, le dijeron al profesor que una rueda de su coche se había pinchado y aquella era la razón de su retraso. El profesor aceptó la disculpa y les dio otra oportunidad de hacer el examen. Seguidamente todos se sentaron en una esquina del aula para comenzar la prueba, y la primera pregunta fue: ¿cuál de las cuatro ruedas se pinchó?

Pues…

Pues…

Este palabra me dio, y me sigue dando, mucha molestia cuando llegué a España. Esta en la lengua de todos los españoles, y ¿que más? también los coreanos y chinos que están estudiando español aquí. “Pues,” eso. Y, “pues…” otra cosa. “Bueno, pues…” una pausa y luego una respuesta.

Durante un tiempo, no sabía exactamente que significa la palabra, pero como todo, se aprende muy pronto. Pues se utiliza como un relleno, cuando un español esta pensando sobre lo que vaya a decir. Por ejemplo, cuando le dices, “yo me voy,” dice, “pues, you también.”

Además, la palabra se usa antes de una respuesta. “¿Como llegar a tu casa?” “Pues, toma la primera derecha después de la rotonda.” Como toma un poquito de tiempo, le da unos segunditos para pensar en la respuesta. Sin embargo, si era una pregunta larga se pone “bueno, pues” en su lugar. También se podría utilizar dentro de un discurso o escrito cuando uno se pregunta a si mismo. ¿Pues, que voy a estudiar?” “Pues, empezamos con geografía?” No obstante, “pues” se encuentra más en el lenguaje hablado que en el escrito.

“Pues” podría indicar enfado a con quien hablas o que su pregunta era tonta. Suena mal or por lo menos maleducado en esos casos. “¿Donde estás? ¿Donde estás? ¿Estas en casa?” “¡Pues sí, claro!”

En mi expedición con la palabra, intenté a hacer todo lo que podía. “Pues,” era en mi cabeza en cada dos pensamientos. Pero el problema era que era sola, y solo en mis pensamientos. No podía expresarla, no solo por el miedo de soñar demasiado como un español subconscientemente (porque trataba con todos mis esfuerzos soñar así), sino que por el nuevo modo de pensar que viene con la palabra. A mí me di igual, lo sigué tratando. En cada lugar en el que fui, llevé un papel conmigo. Hoy voy a decir “pues” diez veces. La próxima semana veinte… Hasta que fuera, y siguiera siendo, en mi lengua también, aunque no paraba, ni relajaba. Eso no era mi objetivo. Mi objetivo es ser enganchado por la palabra, tenerla en mi sangre, no poder parar de decirla. Lo estoy tratando a hacer hace dos semanas o mas, pero no puedo. Pero aquí el obstáculo es tan claro como el sol: tengo miedo de soñar abnormal. Eso tiene que parar. Pues cogeré un papel y contaré cuantos frases míos no tiene la palabra, y esperaré que no sea mas de unas por conversación. Espero que yo pueda hacerlo, pues haré du3a2, pues haz du3a2 para mi también.

Pues terminamos tíos. Hasta luego…

¡Ahh… uno!

The little Things

When I left my home for Salamanca, Spain, I rushed my decisions, thinking that it will turn out all fun and roses in the end. I booked my accommodation a day earlier, packed my bag 30 minutes before my flight, and left for my flight an hour before departure. The result: the check-in lady told me that I had missed my flight (don’t worry, she let me in after begging furiously), left with my phone only half charged, took a phone charger that did not work, switched my mother’s computer for mine, and didn’t know how to reach the hostel at which I booked after landing. To top it all off, I forgot to read my plane ticket, which told me to switch my bag at the airport before changing flights, which caused my bag to arrive a day late. All this, added with a sever case of loneliness after being with family every day for two weeks, caused me to go into a kind of depression mode.

In the end, al7amdulillah, everything turned out well. My mom told me she didn’t need her computer, I bought another phone charger, and my accommodation turned out to be four minutes away from school. I thought that this was just another case of slipping up, which it definitely was, but it all turned out to make sense to me about two weeks later…

Walking back home, kind of lost, a few days into the Spanish course, I passed by a Kebab shop on the side of the road. I went in, and ordered a ‘kebap de pollo’, and started talking to the chef. On knowing that I am a saudi, he insisted that I give my number to his friend, another saudi, saying that his friend would be upset if he saw me and didn’t tell him. I liked that character, and evidently, the chef did too.

We met up, and long story short, he liked me, and offered to give me a place in his apartment. Awesome! I noticed the proximity to the school, the silence of the streets outside, the size of the apartment, and the facilities he bought both to live simply and comfortably at the same time. We got to know each other more, and put aside each other’s faults: my habit of leaving the doors and lights open and trouble tidying up after I am done, and his slow, almost lethargic, approach to work, school, and getting to do important things. But once he starts, he does not stop, however small the task (be it throwing a tissue in the bin from five meters away).

Just today, upon observing my habits of eating and leaving the plates on the table, he decided to tell me what he thinks. “Abdulrahman, you and I, have different approaches to life, but each of our styles completes the other’s.” I am listening. “You like to start things, and I like to finish them. But I do not like to start things, and you do not like to finish them.” This opened a whole field of thought in my mind. I suddenly understood what I have been thinking all this time. I could list a hundred things that I have started, or tried to, but never finished. I get motivated to do something, finish the bulk of it, and lose interest towards the end. I never pay attention to the details, the final touch, the little things.

I’ll give you two examples. When reading the Quran, I noticed that I think of the big picture concepts, reading far between the lines, looking at the link between the ayat to find out what concepts lie behind. Listening to tafseer however, I found that many look at the way the Ayahs are put in the Surah, the words are put in the Ayah, and, yes, the way the letters are put in the word. This was hard for me to practice without guidance. On trying to act the ayat of Allah, I found I would come up with an amazing plan, that if done would transform me, and start executing this plan… but soon to realise that I lose focus to quickly. I need something else to drive my motivation, some other concept a day later, and another the next. This is the only way I can keep going…

Another small thing. A few weeks ago, I was fascinated by the Spanish word “pues.” Meaning nothing, but being so useful as both a filler and a sign that one wants to continue talking, I fell in love with the word. I understood it, but could not integrate it in my everyday speech. I had to force myself to say it ten times per day, counting the times I did on a small paper. I couldn’t do it. I wanted to be addicted to the word, to not stop saying it. But I couldn’t. Today, I remember my goals, and how I came to forget them over the course of a few days, and start trying once again.

The solution? I do not know. I am here with Jameel, and hope to learn much from my time with him, knowing that this time will end, like every other. There is not enough time to start without finishing. Better to finish than to start something else. But better to start than to have never finished.