This day, today.

729609_10151433446156323_2089198568_o

At twenty-two, you fall in love with strangers, realize what’s worth believing in, hold fast to the now, take the scenic way home, and see the beauty in vulnerability.

My days at twenty-two are numbered, as twenty-three is waiting with its adventures less than two weeks away. But, my oh my, what a year this has been. A year of growth, realization, appreciation, bittersweet farewells, and plain and simple living. I’ve realized how the smallest gestures have the biggest, most overwhelming impact, how important the power of language is to human interaction, how my mother’s laughter is the one thing I miss when I am 8,000 miles away, how I never never never want to stop learning – ever, and how much I love stories.

This day, today, I consciously acknowledge that I have returned from a trip of a lifetime. I never expected a country to change and affect me so deeply during my first ever visit. Bangladesh did just that. There are nearly 300,000 stateless, forgotten people spread throughout 66 camps in the country. Their conditions are unimaginable, beyond the realms of decent human existence. There are many political ties at play, however at the end of the day, these people are human and have the right to lead dignified, honorable lives. OBAT Helpers, is a nonprofit solely dedicated to enhancing the lives of the forgotten people through utilizing means of self-empowerment, education, healthcare, and happiness. (Important/lovely fact: my father founded this organization. I couldn’t be more proud and awestruck at his ever-increasing awesomeness and truly unconditional love.)

This trip changed my life. The people, the stories, the heartbreak, the love, the smiles, the children (oh, the beautiful children), the laughter, the tears, the hope. Everything about these people is UN-forgettable. They have made a bigger impact on my life than I could imagine and I sincerely hope to one day be able to describe to them how important their happiness, their existence is to me.

728801_10151408842761323_974844244_o

I look forward to taking many, many more trips with my father to this part of the world. At this point, I’m not sure if my heart can stand taking this trip repeatedly. However, the heart is capable of far more than we give it credit for. I must trust my heart. I must trust my heart to be able to handle what life gives.

This day, today, I understand that we each have a path. This path could be the most rugged, most obvious path. This path could be absolutely unpaved and undiscovered. I know I’m in the middle of many things at this point in my life. Closing long-winded chapters, opening doors of opportunities, realizing the weight of each precious day. And I am so happy to be right here, in this awkwardly beautiful in-between moment.

I’ve loved, changed, danced, lost, learned, laughed, fought, wished, challenged, won. And at 22, I have so, so much more to experience and so much more to understand about life and so much more to learn about this path I’m eagerly wandering.

This day, today, I realize that the world really is waiting for us to come alive.

Until next time,
A

“What matters is how quickly you do what your soul directs.”
-Rumi

Advertisements

Never the Same Thing Twice

 

Where I’ve been and what I’ve done is never the same thing twice. It’s been too long since I’ve put experiences on paper, but I would love to begin today. There has always been this hesitation of continuing to blog after an experience. Because I’ve already missed reflecting and delving into too many adventures. Because I wish I wrote more. Because I feel too much. Because it’s never the same thing twice, and I regret not writing for myself more often to keep up with the ever-evolving me. If I do, however, continue living in this writers regret – when will I ever emerge from it and where will it leave me?

Let’s start with the now: It’s been a year since I moved to New York City. I am currently a student at Columbia with one more year remaining toward my Masters degree. I find myself surrounded by an entirely new string of comfort, making my old feelings of comfort feel foreign. My family is further to me than I’d like, c’est la vie. Since my last post, I have had the privilege to explore Morocco, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kenya, Turkey, Qatar, China and through it all, myself. Two things: 1) there is tragedy and unmet needs everywhere, 2) there is even greater love and selflessness everywhere.

Love has found its way to me and through me and right past me without a word, but it has always managed to stay within me. There has been happiness and heartbreak and butterflies and thrills. There have been lives lost and memories vaulted, nieces to laugh with and nephews to nibble. I have seen touched the depths of the Indian ocean off the Kenyan coast and I’ve witnessed sunsets over the highest peaks of the Imlil mountains of Morocco. My religion has been tested and my spirituality wavered, simultaneously strengthening and exhausting my deeply rooted faith. I thank God for how deep these roots have traveled and for being the One I can trust and retreat to even when I don’t feel worthy of doing so. Faith is a funny thing, a constant thing, a constantly changing and adapting thing.

I’m 26 now and although I’ve said this for every age since 17, this is the best year ever. Alhumdulillah. In 2013, I titled this blog “Almas Radiantes” or radiant souls. I was inspired by the people I met through OBAT Helpers in Bangladesh that I now know and love so dearly. Now that I know what I’m looking for, I stumble upon the radiant ones everywhere I go. They are everywhere, their souls shine in difficulty and in peace. They are so radiant and every time I acknowledge that, their beauty transcends reality.

I’m 26 now and can’t tell you where I’ll be in a year. I hope I’ll be around, falling in love with the people and places and ideas that shine, and seeking the serenity and kindness that my parents model and practicing the forgiveness my Lord provides me. I hope I’ll be doing good things, providing for radiant souls that give me life. I hope I’ll be dancing and I hope you will be too. I hope we find treasures in everyday things, never feeling like the same thing twice.

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people, and with that, I bid you adieu until my words get to greet you again.

Until next time,
A