I’ve been struggling recently with unfinished business just after my experience with death. It was the first time I hear about this phrase when my friend brought it up after talking about this experience. This phrase is taken from Gestalt therapy that means “the whole”, where both your body and mind are treated as an integrated entity where you can’t just separate your thinking from your heart (this is how I do translate this :)). Well, I started to get involved in life very intensively that I would have a huge list of things I wish to finish just now!! I attended online classes, returned to my love of reading but eating books like I’ve been starving for so long, started to get involved in more religious, technical, historical and social readings. I’ve even started to draw and to be honest that was really fun and I drew some really good stuff (in my opinion actually)… what I mean is that I’ve started to lose myself in daily life activities to the point that I won’t recognize who am I becoming the next morning!!
Guess what… none of these things have ever finished, it continued to a point where I was just fed up with everything and was stressed out all the time. I suddenly started to lose the joy and laughter and in sometimes it took me days to really draw a smile on my face. I didn’t feel happy after my graduation from school having excellent degree in Masters of computer science, I bought a new car that supposed to make me happy but I didn’t have that feeling of being attached to it, I even got a raise at work for doing well in the last six months but always there was something missing, something that would make me really feel happy!! My friend asked me the other day when was the last time I really felt happy and my answer was already there… long long time ago that I can’t even remember when.
After reading Viktor Frankl’s book “Man Search for Meaning” I had that long pose, trying to answer my friend’s question on how to reframe this whole thing in a good positive way. First of all I should point out that I’m a perfectionist minimizer introvert who would care about others more than I do with myself and not being able to express my feelings towards them really made things worse.. I never felt that whatever I do to make them feel good is enough; I used to believe that expressing these feelings in actions is way much better than said words! Reframing these things, putting all of these in a brand new perspective or frame is really not that easy.
Frankl says: “So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”, the first question that came to my mind was should we experience death to think about it really this way!! Do I need to suffer and feel pain to really cherish the present, the life I have in hand… Gestalt talks about the same, cease the present, the past is already gone and tomorrow might never come so you only have this very moment to think about. In Qura’n we have the same thing, you should only think about the moment and leave the future for Allah as only Allah knows what tomorrow will bring. So if I’m about to act in a wrong way, what should I do now being granted a second chance to make things better, big question indeed.
I always have this list of tangible things every year that I should finish to call it a successful year. Goals and ambitions that I wish to fulfill and which would make me feel satisfied and content. Was this what Frankl means with meaning, do having these goals and dreams and acting upon making them happen is all what life is about.. sure it’s not!! What really made me feel really happy was little things actually, buying new books, attending social and charitable events, having my boss buying me books whenever he is on a trip to the US, my new friends who accepted me as I am, when I bring home new desserts and the smile drawn on my family members faces, when I found that kind of biscuits that my dad and mom really liked and bringing it back home every weekend, the playing cards championship that me and my brothers hold each year where our laughs are out loud in the whole neighborhood. We usually tend to forget these little things that makes us feel happy and remember only the big moments or pain we experience that sets a new threshold or measure for what happiness means… but happiness has no measure, even a good one!
Frankl says: “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”… so what if I do really have a mission in life that really exceeds me and my small little circle of interests and people to something really big, knowing that I’m dying anyway what can I do to leave a print in this life. To be remembered for good, to be awarded in the afterlife with good deeds that exceeds me to the people around me, to the whole world.
I realized in the past six months how grateful I am to Allah for this death experience that gave me the opportunity to have such a conversation with my friend, to explore new areas that I’ve never thought I can reach for. Breaking out my comfort zone was not that easy, same thing with lowering my defenses when interacting with the world outside my head. Having the opportunity to invest a quality time in knowing myself better, reframing my whole life experience in a way that would give meaning to every little incident I experience in life, new people I have met and those beautiful moments I shared them with, all these new plans that is no longer only about me but about what I do love… stop trying to be who I think I should be and just be myself.
So my advice to you is be fascinated with everything you see, cherish the moment and live wholeheartedly… and yeah don’t forget to say that magical word to people you care about: I love you 🙂