In life, there are times when we think about ourselves and our situation and exclaim – “Hey I never imagined I’d be in this situation or I never dreamed that I’ll be doing this with my life”. We look around us and think of our choices and say, “Wow I never thought that such and such would be important to me or that I have these qualities as a part of my character.”
This feeling might not overtake us very frequently. More often than not we just let our life rush by us, as we run the rat race or just spend time chilling as they say. We do what we do and just accept that life is a series of random events and we are where we are today as a matter of coincidence or the like. There are probably very few occasions in our life when we actually sit down, take time out and look back at our lives and reflect. We hardly ponder about the effects of those little matters which seemed random or pure strokes of luck (the good type or the bad type) at that time yet have caused you to be where you are right now.
“Pray why should we bother with the past,” you ask me, “It is this moment that is really important and we might as well just live in this moment.” Well, you are right there, this moment is important but a few years down the line this very moment could decide what you are doing then. What is random today is the reason you are where you are tomorrow. As you look back, life seems to be a script that you lived, as Shakespeare implied when he said life is a stage. But I’d like to ask a different question.
It is obvious every person considers his life to be important to himself if not to anybody else. Every individual holds himself in high regard feeling that he should have a good life. We spend our entire lives pursuing that good life. But why do we have this sense of entitlement? Why do we think that, we can’t believe we are here or can’t understand why we aren’t somewhere else? After all, we didn’t choose when we are going to be born; we don’t choose when we are going to die. We don’t have a choice in, whom we are born to nor can we question why India or Middle East or Africa or anywhere else for that matter. It just happened and we just accept. We can always say that I wish I was such and such or so and so but like you and I know that is just a wish. Escapism at best.
Among us there are those who will leave a legacy behind, but I wonder about the countless billions that came to this planet. Who were these people before us? Nameless and faceless they played their part in making the earth go round. Surely among them were good people, good fathers and good mothers, intelligent children, creative individuals, who lived out their time maybe in poverty or may be in wealth, maybe in health or maybe in sickness and when their time came left the planet for good. Like them we too came on this planet and we too shall leave when our time is up. We don’t remember them as we remember Gandhi or Newton. Every generation can hardly remember more than a generation or two or maybe three that preceded it.
Then in reality we need to question ourselves to whom does this life matter? Why should we be alive even and what is our purpose? For we can for ourselves make up a purpose – to be wealthy, to be recognized or just to be plain happy. But we know that there were many who never got there and died trying in the purpose. Each and every one of us knows about the lowest common denominator for all of humanity – death but when is each person’s appointed time, we humans don’t’ have a clue! Logically speaking this abrupt end to life should in fact make our life purposeless for why bother with something that is limited in and of itself. No human being can deny the reality of death but very few wonder what is to happen after.
Thus I invite you to take a few moments out of your day and contemplate your life (the past and the future) and ask yourselves to where you are really headed.
As for me, three lines from the noble Quran keep running through my head as I write this –
“By Time. Verily entire mankind is in loss. Except those who believe [in a meeting with their creator] and thus do righteous deeds, and enjoin the truth and enjoin patience” [Asr (103):1-3]