These Weekly Tips are a reflective elaboration from my speech at the 2016 Muslim Women’s Literary Conference: “Just Let Me Bee: Finding Your Creative Niche”
I really love Wednesdays. It means I must force myself to honor our agreement and post to you. But it doesn’t feel forced. It’s warranted…it’s wanted…writing is something I need to do and am supposed to do. However, Wednesday has come and gone. And though I had all intentions to post this to you yesterday, it just didn’t happen. But instead of beating myself up about it, I’m going to practice one lesson I learned this week. I’m gonna accept my failure, move on, and get down to business, with the knowledge that I may have to do some things differently in the future in order to meet that Wednesday deadline.
That being said, we are often the victims and culprits of complacency in this world. And let me tell you, I’ve learned one too many times how complacency is dangerous. Indifference is dangerous. While blinders are good to keep horses focused on the road, in the natural world, horses don’t have blinders. Being able to see and interpret everything around you is a protection and mercy. It gives us choices on how we will react. The problem is, most of us stop there. We see and don’t interpret the signs. In fact, most of us don’t even see. We aren’t even looking any more. But when we don’t interpret the signs, we don’t make change, and so nothing changes for the better. It often gets worse and we are one less step towards our goal. We get stuck on the road. It’s very hard to drive safely without a rear view mirror and side view mirrors. And when we have them and don’t use them, it’s folly. You are the driver of your own car: your life. When you don’t use all of the tools you’ve been given in a safe manner, you often end up in accident–one you’ve caused. But it’s not entirely bad because it forces you to wake up and really see. InshAllah. Hopefully.
This week I saw that I had a lot of teachers in front of me. All of whom to learn lessons from. I started writing those lessons down in a notebook. To remind me when I feel the drag of complacency settling in. It’s December 20, and it snowed the other day in my area. Yet I saw a bee. I also had guests that have been staying with me that said some things that really resonated with me. I attended a lecture by Imam Amin Muhammad, and watched a powerful video online by Imam Fode Drame on Fear and Grief. I also watched the new Star Wars…cuz you know, we all want to be Jedi masters. Especially me. (By the way, the movie was totally amazing and the best Star Wars to date)! Two quotes from the latest Star Wars installment hit my heart like a ton of bricks being upheld by the force within:
“Failure is the greatest teacher.”
“We don’t win the war by killing those we hate, but by saving those we love.”
What I learned from it all is that even when you don’t like what’s happening or happened, you have a very powerful choice when things aren’t quite going your way. You can moan and complain, or you can do something about it. But the first step is to simply accept what happened in the past and move on. When you don’t accept it, you’re blinding and stunting yourself and your future. You can’t move past things if you can’t accept them. We’ve all been dealt a certain number of “cards” per say. What are you going to do with what’s in your hand?
We’ve all been given tools to help us on the roads we travel in life. The bee has been given a hairy body to detect wind speed. She has 5 eyes with 6,900 lenses and ocelli to receive sources of light and understand darkness for orientation. Bees actually see the light…including ultra violet light. But we people heavy with the baggage of the world have to look for the light…especially at the end of dark tunnels. So keep your eyes open and listen to the tides of the wind. Everything that happens to you in life is a recipe for your success. You must believe this. The world isn’t cookie cutter. Whatever struggle and triumphs that happen to you happen for a reason. And these experiences will inform you and help you in the future. In art, just living, knowing pain and heartache and sadness, helps you be more true to your audience and represent the human experience. But most importantly, heartache, pain, and sadness helps you grow and cope. Your emotions are your strength. One cannot know true joy without sadness, and vice versa. When your heart is bleeding, accept that pain. Embrace it. Thank it. Feel it and be present in it. Sometimes we need to cry. Sometimes we need to shout. Do what you need to do so you can smile again. Then keep walking, trotting, galloping and skipping down that yellow brick road…blinders aside, full gear, constantly looking at the side and rear view mirrors to allow your rough, bumpy past to inform a better, smoother sailing future.
Use what you’ve got–hairy body, five eyes, no eyes–to find the light…there’s a way to see and interpret things even when handicapped or disabled. Using what you have, bee optimistic and flexible and you’ll find your way. With a will, there’s always a way. And with every difficulty, there is ease. Surely, with every difficulty, there will be ease.