When they asked me to move from my comfortable seat, I narrowed my eyes and a sly thought entered my mind.
"Don't do it. Don't move. Pretend like you didn't hear."
I'm not sure how I ignored the thought, but I did. At the right time at that (you think I'm some angel? I was about to laugh my nose off and tell them to find a seat in the spaceship they're taking to Mars).
I nodded - I remember not saying a word, as to not allow my true feelings to show, and moved. Why did I do it?
Look, honey. I'm not here to sugarcoat things. Yes, I did move, but "I remember not saying a word, as to not allow my true feelings to show." I was raging from inside, as I watched them sit happily in their (ahem, my) seat. How could they even ask me for such a request? If Karma had a favorite situation, it would be this one. Why was Karma involved, you ask? Well, just the day before, this same person wouldn't give up their seat for me.
And that's the valor of it. The Valor of Mercy. But not my kind of mercy, the raging still resentful kind. I'm speaking of a mercy far beyond our scope of understanding. A mercy given to us from the air we so simply breathe to the moments that profoundly take our breath away. Allah (swt)'s mercy, the one He (swt) bestows on us in every single situation. Especially when we don't ask for it.
Muslim Interscholastic Tournament is by far one of my favorite yearly events. Starting at a tender age of 14 (wow, I sound old) I started attending MIST as a competitor and I have not regretted it. Maybe it's the food, maybe it's the medals, and maybe it's the workshops. Most likely it's the fact that extroverts thrive on energy from others and I get enough to last me the rest of the year. Every time I enter the MIST arena - it's an extreme sport people, Hunger games 2.0, I always get this renewed spirit. Although I've never won any competitions (the farthest I've gotten is finals for Spoken Word), I've incurred many losses: I've lost my ability to put up a front of being a perfect Muslim from 2015's theme Clarity of Sincerity, and in 2016 I left behind grieving the past and fearing for the future through the Race Against Time. In 2017 I let go of trying to heal immediately from life's difficulties, through The Challenges of Beauty, and this year, I lost my lilac scarf, my voice, and nearly lost my bag.
I would tell you about mercy but I wouldn't be able to do justice to the beautiful poetry, photography, and artwork which depicted it better than I ever could've. I can say that Allah (swt) is surely the Most Merciful by telling you about grand gestures He (swt) made to show me signs of His (swt)'s mercy, but that is also not needed. It's the little things in our lives. It isn't only the birth of a new child, a recovery from terminal illness, or healing from sorrow. It's my teacher cancelling class for the weekend without even knowing that's the only way I would be able to attend MIST. It's signing up for being coach by exactly 11:59pm before the deadline (True story, bro). It's missing the bus by sleeping in and getting a kind coach to accompany me with only one phone call.
Mercy comes when we are merciful to others. If there is some place we need to merciful or if there is someone in our lives we need to be merciful to, let today be when we do it. This is firstly a reminder for myself. So what if she didn't give up her seat? Maybe she had a long day at MIST. Maybe she's worrying about her competitions or about going home. There's a list of 70 excuses for her, but in reality a 0 list of excuses for me. If this happens next time, I hope I'm also merciful to myself by letting go of negative thoughts. Until then, let's await next year's MIST theme by indulging ourselves in post-mist memes. Hope you have a mercy-full day!
May Peace Be Upon You, Asalamu Alaykum!
"O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing." - Quran 49:1 (Sahih International)
"The best among you are those who have the best manners and character." - Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
"I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become." - Carl Jung
"The function of leadership is to create more leaders, not followers." - Ralph Nader
"You have never had to steal my breath or take it away, somehow you have always managed to convince me to hand it over freely." - Tyler Knott Gregson
"These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb." - Najwa Zebian
"I finally understand that I do not write, I leak." - Tyler Knott Gregson
"I am too little butter on too much bread. I am too many thoughts in too little head." - Tyler Knott Gregson
"How can land be owned by another man...is the sky owned by birds and the river owned by fish." - Lupe Fiasco
"Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on." - Carl Newport
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
"The pain leaves bit by bit. Be patient. You are healing." - Yasmin Mogahed
"An image I always like is of a circle of knowledge — but as the circle grows, as the diameter increases, so does the circumference that’s in contact with all that darkness outside the circle of light — that ignorance." - Stuart Firestein
"Sometimes the only way to catch your breath is to lose it completely." - Tyler Knott Gregson
"It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. Once that belief becomes deep conviction, things begin to happen." - Muhammad Ali
"Love isn't soft, like those poets say. Love has teeth which bite and the wounds never close." - Stephen King
"To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or a rainbow in its climbing, falling colors." - Maya Angelou
"What we need is more people who specialize in the impossible." - Theodore Roethke
"Travelling. It leave you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta
"It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." - Rose Kennedy
"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory." - Dr. Seuss
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. – Robert Louis Stevenson