.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
‘Uncanny’. Perhaps this is the word. Like when something is fundamentally knowable, and known. And, yet: there is some distinctively fresh and novel and strange quality about it. A bundle of things we cannot yet know. Like a subtle, though unavoidable, shift in your ways of thinking and understanding things, including your own self.
That deeply, yet lightly, unsettling feeling, maybe: as you walk into some space that seems so familiar and so alien, all at once. A place, perhaps, without its people in it: a school, maybe, emptied of its students, come holiday time. Or, a masjid, late at night: the spill of some heavy light
through the glass; the rest, softened darkness, still, and swaying.
The home that you currently occupy looks like it is yours. Irrespective of whether or not you feel quite ‘settled’ there: ‘yet’, or otherwise. You have your things here, and your memories, and your understanding of this entity that you, a complete person, inhabit.
And then, suddenly: as you walk through a smallish square brick archway or two, and you are brought into some space that feels, once again, quite uncanny. It feels like you’ve been here before. Yet: it is all quite distinctively new to you.
It is: inspecting the different shades of darkness, here. And the greens, and deep blues. Four houses, one by one by one, bookended by archway homes, and two nooks that one can find one’s way into, up some cold black-railed brick stairs. But, despite being identical in overall architecture, carved out in the same ways, don’t these doors look different to the ones you know so well?
These ones may have different vines climbing up, uncontrolled, the backdrop of those orange-ish walls. Different colours; different shapes of handles and door-knockers. Different cars parked outside, and vases, and potted plants. And who knows how their bathrooms might look inside, and who lives there, and which rooms are whose. How are things done, and what goes on in their lives, and what do they know one another as?
In the space of, say, a decade, we have grown, oh so much. We have walked between archway and arch: there has been darkness here, certainly. And confusion, and thunder, and the pouring down of rain. There are houses that we, respectively, have come home to, time and time again. But: look around…
What have these enclosing walls known? Who has lived here, before? How have things been done differently, over time, and what has remained the same?
Do you recall walking into your current room for the very first time, filled, at once, with the excitement of this is mine, and what could I make of it?! The old, whinging closet: open and shut, open and shut. And then: it became a study space. The rolling light switch became a clicking one: on and off,
on and off.
The floors might have gone from being light, and carpeted. To dark and ruffly: woolly, and then they were wooden and cold. Bunk-bed: a child’s fortress, a climbing frame, office. With pinks and purples dotted around everywhere, and a doll-house on top of a stained-glass wardrobe.
Then came the others: and the wooden dressing table, and the quilted pink-and-white duvet. The shaggy purple rug, the collections of things, the TV, and all the rest.
I have walked around, and through this life of mine thus far, as different expressions of the same me: at times, eight years old, with a fairly different understanding of things than I had at, say, twelve. Three years later: fifteen. And now: twenty-one. I currently sit in a space that had once belonged to my aunt. Blue. And red. And then the walls had been painted white, and it had been left quite bare. Prepared for something new, altogether, to take place there.
[But, the floor remains scratched, here and there. Bumps and bruises upon these walls; irregularities where paintbrushes have been.]
And you probably cannot say that your life, dear Reader, has been easy. You cried; you felt insurmountably tired and detached, and incomprehensible, and unknowable. Compared yourself, maybe; felt deeply uneasy, and stranded, and lonely, and ‘wrong’.
But, my goodness: look at whom you are now. And, look at what your space (a reflection of you) is, currently. What have your struggles taught you, in the end? What is better, now?
[Who are you, dear Reader? Will you try to answer that intuitively, from the strongest, most core part of yourself?
And, relatedly: what do you want out of this life of yours?
Are you ready to meet new expressions of the same core thing; to honour yourself and what you have learnt?
(Are you ready to meet yourself all over again, almost as if for the first time?)
To preserve whatever is good and to let fall, with compassion, whatever is not?]
It is almost as though older parts of yourself must die in order to let those newer realisations in: but we can honour them in memory. It has all led to this ‘now’, which has learnt from its mistakes, and which finds itself imbued with possibility.
So you’ve felt scared — terrified, even. Alone. Uncertain. Broken,
Breaking. Like the push of anthurium as they grow towards the light: those stems and leaves know not, quite, of the genius of the process, nor of the sheer unmatchable beauty of its outcomes. I suppose, when we are able to take a step away, to look at things better: then we can understand better.
Things do not always have to look the same, between one year and the next. Or even: between a day’s opening, and its end. Same roots, new water, new leaves. Newfound nourishment, a changing-over-time relationship between self and other selves, and between self and soil (environment). And thus, different (newfound, new-realised and still true) expressions of the very same thing.
You should know, the One who has Overseen our walking, between archway and archway, stem to leaf to flower, and back again; between door and door and door:
As your face changed, and so did your room. So did how you dressed, and how you did certain things. And you learned, and unlearned. Decided, and then proceeded to change your mind again:
“Is anything too difficult or too wonderful for the Lord?”
— Genesis 18:14