Slow Living

I’ve become accustomed to slow living. Before this year, I had an obsession with productivity. I no longer impose pressure on myself. This development wasn’t entirely an active choice. In part, being unemployed certainly helped, but ultimately it came down to my apathy towards life earlier in this pandemic. I knew I needed to get a job to save money for medical school, but I couldn’t bring myself to update LinkedIn or make connections. I knew I could’ve used the time to write more, but with more time than I’ve ever had came the least amount of motivation.

As the months went by, I grappled with different emotions. I fought against feeling sad by reminding myself of all the reasons my circumstance was favorable for the times. I had my health and the necessities. In adjusting my expectations for life, I was able to quell negativity. I don’t think I suppressed my emotions, but rather this change in my perspective gave particular emotions no chance to sprout; this is how I cope, it works, but it comes with losses.

In having this approach, I inadvertently suppressed my creativity. Often my best work is inspired by unfavorable emotions. Perhaps had I welcomed such sentiments, I might have created more beautiful things.

It is interesting, however, that this sense of apathy led to something very positive. I allowed myself to become slow. Anyone who’s seen me walk knows that I strut as though I have somewhere to be, and the long legs help. I’ve always considered myself late if I wasn’t 10 minutes early, and I always kept my to-do list by my bed for if I dreamt of something I needed to get done. I don’t wear my neuroticism on my face, I act relatively mellow as far as I can tell, but for as long as I can remember, I was always mentally ten steps ahead, fatigued from my thoughts, and never able to live in the moment.

This all recently changed. Waking up late or staring at walls no longer invokes guilt. I don’t rush phone calls with those I love, and I don’t care that my days aren’t deemed exciting by others. I relish just sitting without knowing what I have to do next because I’ve made no plans for my day. I’ve gotten used to this, and I have no idea how I’ll maintain the art of slow living.

Medical school and slow living do not seem compatible. Every medical student I know is hyperproductive and overworked. I have no regrets about this career I’ve chosen. It entails humility, compassion, knowledge, and many of the qualities I value. I owe it to my future patients to fully dedicate myself to understanding the mechanism and prognosis of a disease, but I must also remember that I am my first patient. If I am unwell, those I love and those I treat will not receive the best parts of me.

Although I’ll forgo indulging in slow living, I will keep from its lessons. I don’t know what this will look like practically, but the one actionable thing I will commit to is walking each morning without my headphones. I fill every bit of vacant time I have with a lecture, podcast, or youtube video. I’d succumb to being productive even in moments I had for myself. This will stop. While life will inevitably become busier than ever before, I will guard the moments that I’m not obligated to fill, like never before.

Peace & Blessings,
Karima

Tired with eyes wide open

It is very late, or very early, whichever does not matter. I drank coffee late because I could, I don’t always care for what’s logical. Although I’m awake and very tired, I accept the fatigue and take from it what I can. In the quiet hours, I toss and turn with ideas. On nights like this, such ideas don’t slip into the darkness of my shut eyelids.

This is a poem I wrote 5 minutes ago. Usually I’d wait to see if what I write can stand the test of time, but right now, I don’t really care. It’s 3am and inhibition doesn’t really work like it would at day. Days are for holding back because we fear how things may be perceived. The night is for not caring because things simply are as they should be & even if our eyes are wide open, chances are we’re too tired for questioning.

I cannot steer your ship, 
but I will send my message through the fish

And if before reaching you the fish is eaten,
I will look up and raise my oath for the eagle

And say someone shoots this bird,
then I’ll tell the herdsmen to spread what
they’ve heard

About my concern
about how I yearn

...for the one I have not met
but whose affections I hope to earn

When you get my message,
do not send one back,
just come to the coast
...so that you may see
If what I offer is what you need

Peace & blessings,

Karima O.

Things Must Never Be “A Sure Thing”

An entry from her journal:

I see the hand that plucks the grain, and see that it is missing something. It carries out the act, moving to the soil, and to the sack being filled, and then back again to the soil. 

But the hand moves without its own reason, it simply complies with a task like all the other hands in the field, and this hand is weaker for it, for not finding its own reason. 

Does marriage scare you? 

Committing to one person does not, but to feel taken advantage of terrifies me. I’ve seen how marriage can squander desire. The contract, although well intended, does not absolve insecurities or bad character. Even good people become so confident that a bond confirmed by ink signatures should weather all things, tolerate all actions, and worst of all, tolerate a life where there is no action at all. I understand that passion rises and falls, that it evolves with age and experience, but why must it die? 

Doqon

Do not exaggerate.
Will the entire carpet unravel from a loose thread?
No, unless you pull it for days.
Which you won’t, for you’ve got obligations and a need for rest.

Carry on. The chatter is meek.

Why are you still standing there?
Can you not see beyond the folly?
Has the inferno’s keeper made your ground sticky?

In the distance, beyond the hills, are more hills.
You will not see the hills beyond the hills because
you do not like to travel, gossipers never do.
They are not used to traveling because they never bother with seeking to find the truth.

Peace & Blessings,

Karima

Accent

The Colorado School of Medicine has published this piece in Volume 13 of the Human Touch Journal. If you are interested in this poem and others like it, you may read more in my new chapbook “Socdaal”. The link for purchase is under the poem. I hope you enjoy it.

***

Accent

You may ask me to repeat myself,
but must you furrow your brow?
I split my tongue to speak to you.
If you care to know, I’ll show you how.

Watch.
Down the middle of this pink sponge, there are peacemakers.
They don’t have to work hard when the listener knows of laxoox and ghee,
but when it’s you,
this pink sponge expands and shoves against my teeth.
The sponge splits you see?
The left is sharp with its grammarian formalities,
and as for the right, well it retreats to familiarity,
to laxoox and ghee.
The two are not yet used to each other,
so they tangle and delay delivery.

Watch.
The peacemakers will declare unity.
They will march down the middle
and pull from both the left and right forcefully
They will then sew the two so tight, you will not see the red that trickles,
but I will taste it, the iron, the trial, I will taste it.
When speaking to people like you I always do.

So, spare the furrowed brow just because you’re confused
I’ll repeat myself,
but don’t you forget,
I must split my tongue just to speak to you.

 

https://www.blurb.com/b/10067634-socdaal

 

Dirir

When a new age calls,

let yesterday be the kerosene

for your lamp, today

 

No longer must the wind carry you,

you’ve proven to know your way 

 

I never could trust what I could not see

but I borrowed heaven’s eyes 

and found relief

 

I saw rain clouds in the congregation

and I saw one that stood out

 

You did not invoke fear with a show of lightning 

or boast of your worth with thunder

you were in the sky and grounded, 

praiseworthy yet shy in your wonders

 

Through heaven’s eyes, 

I watched the nomads honor your return 

 

With every rainy season, you were generous… 

but the dry season always followed

 

I wandered after you, hoping to observe

how you spent your time alone preparing for tomorrow

 

But they cut my time short, heaven’s eyes were due…

so I gave them back and lost sight of you

 

When a new age calls,

bury hope in the lobes of your heart 

and carve your confusion into stone…

toss them to the sea

and let the waves stir

 

With your maker’s will,

clarity will come to shore 

Peace & blessings,
Karima O.

Summer’s Interlude

Capable of producing wise words, but incapable of following them.

We become philosophers in someone else’s difficulty

but pity ourselves when guests leave the dinner party.

Too lonely for love.

Too busy for despair that could transform us.

“Do Not Rob Yourself of Your History”

It is 3:26 am, the birds are already in my backyard, and my fatigue headache is starting to kick in. I don’t want to get too into my emotions, people find that cringe innit. Ruts come and go, that is nothing new. But nowadays, the space between the ruts feels shorter. I’m not alone in these bouts of melancholy that have no traceable source. Many have shared that they feel the same. The intensified uncertainty of these times does not help, perhaps it is the shovel, creating the furrow for our indifference and anxious thoughts to lay.

I graduate this coming weekend. I’ve accomplished some things, but I know that these are not my doings. Reaching this point was by way of my facilitating circumstance. Did I work hard and make personal sacrifices? Yes of course, but still, I in no way feel like this was my doing. Hard work never felt like a choice, rather a compulsion. Forgoing events or parties never felt like a sacrifice, just natural, for my desires have always steered me in other directions. I did not have things handed to me, but in my mind, the difficulties and pleasures of the past four years have all felt so perfectly positioned in my journey, allowing me a circumstance to grow and realize parts of myself at a young age.

This is not how I imagined the occasion. My dad tried convincing me to partake in the virtual ceremony, he said, “do not rob yourself of your history”.  Although I decided not to participate, I penned his lesson in my journal.

Peace & Blessings,

Karima O.

 

My Practical Approach to Ramadan

“To distribute material possessions is to divide them. To distribute spiritual possessions is to multiply them.” -Josef Albers

My goals this Ramadan are few but optimal. There are just two.

1). To be mindful as I perform ablution 

  • Rationale: Holistic cleanliness is highly regarded in Islam. Establishing the right mindset in bodily purification will transcend into spiritual purification as I ready myself to stand before God in prayer.

2). To use a Miswak before each prayer

  • Rationale: The use of a Miswak before the prayer has been narrated to multiply the reward by 70 times (Abu Nu’aim in Kitabus Siwak; Targheeb vol.1 pg.168).

As you can see, these goals are not overly ambitious, but they are strategic. Consistency is key. In Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240 (It is deemed Sahih, an authentic source), Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace & blessings be upon him, said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

I’m innately a dreamer, the overtly ambitious type. In ways, this temperament has done me some good, but in my spiritual endeavors, it has been stifling. My spiritual development processes are already vulnerable to many distractions. I know best concerning my environment and to what degree it is conducive to my spiritual aims. Lofty goals leave me with a lot of shortcomings. Prioritizing perceptible tactics will allow me to feel accomplished and thereby encouraged to do even more! So in actuality, I am not limiting myself, but instead, creating a healthy and approachable means of reaping the blessings of Ramadan. 

I pray that all those observing the month of Ramadan become more generous, grateful, empathetic, and disciplined. May kindness be our disposition and may our plights diminish. 

Peace and Blessings,

Karima O.

 

 

Beneficence?

Beneficence does not always follow beneficent intentions. The difference to me between a subpar human and an exceptional one is that the later will not consider the decisions of another as a factor in their self-image, they are not so insecure. Their advice to you will not be on the terms that serve them. 

Below is an excerpt from a passage I read today.

“It is true that selfish people can be very attached to one or another person—e.g., a spouse or friend. But it seems that such a friendship could not be a friendship of the most morally excellent kind. The attachment or friendship would be too grounded in self-centered considerations. Thus, a selfish man could be very attached to his wife, dote on her, and in some ways do a lot for her. But this would not mean that he really cared for her, for her own sake. His behavior would be compatible with his caring for her, so to speak, for her willingness to serve him, to be at his command, to flatter his ego. His giving could be a minor concession for her serving him or even a further expression or assertion of his power over her and of her dependence on him. If he were truly selfish, then something like this would be the most likely explanation of his “beneficent” behavior. “

L.A. Blum, Friendship, Altruism, and Morality. ©1980 by Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Peace and Blessings,

Karima O.