Friday, March 18, 2011

Adding or Subtracting

This is Mr. Boo's picture of Robbie.  He glued it on to the cage home. 

Robbie didn't really appreciate art the way we do.  You can see the nibble out of it.

I'm not very good at math but I can do simple adding and subtracting.

Sometimes, in our life, we need to look at the pluses and the minuses and assess which side has more.

When I bought the rabbit, that little furry body felt good in my hands.  I knew that Robbie Rabbit was little and I was big.  Somehow that feeling gave me courage to keep going in Egypt.  I was big enough. 

It felt good to care for him like a baby---perhaps the only baby my husband and I will have.  I would see the clover leaves piled up for Robbie in his cage home and I would smile; knowing that my husband cared without being asked to care.

I even felt good to potty train the little guy.  He waited until he was on the cement steps to do his business.  It was an achievement during a time when every good moment in this country really mattered.  Funny to think of how bunny poop was a highlight in Egyptian civilization.

As he grew, he became less content with what we could offer.  He chewed through his cage.  My husband repaired the plastic with some wire.  Still, the rabbit chewed.  It was in his nature. 

He stopped being happy to simply hop around our steps but began making mad dashes up the stairs.  He had no idea of the cat who lurks about.  Then Robbie began to squeeze under the door of the vacant apartment above us.  We tried barricading the door and he even knocked it down.This necessitated calling my husband and getting the key, then chasing Robbie around---once in the dark before sunrise (of course no one had told me pigeons had moved in so I screamed when one of those fluttered at my feet).

It stopped being fun.

That made me question if I was such a fickle person that I could buy a cute bunny and then not keep it as a grown rabbit.  I had often scoffed at Americans who do that for Easter (filling the animal shelters with unwanted pets).  Yet, whether or not I was fickle (and I guess I prefer the term "changable"), I had to admit that the rabbit was subtracting more than it was adding.

What did the future hold? 

Well, in June, inshahallah,  I hope to be taking Mr. Boo back to America for a visit.  My hub would not be going with us.  He would be staying here for those weeks...with...the...rabbit. 

REALLY? Could I really ask my husband to care for our pet? Clean his cage? Let him out and chase him down?

I couldn't visual that.  What's more, I couldn't picture my time at home from now until then revolving around an animal's needs.

Yesterday morning, after the rabbit went into the vacant apartment again, I asked my husband to take him away before we returned from school.  To my husband's credit, he had never complained about the rabbit or asked me to get rid of him.  I did not cry.  I did not get emotional.  I did not summon the rabbit back for hugs or cuddles.  This matter-of-fact approach to owning (and getting rid of) the rabbit surprises me.  The event was devoid of drama

When we returned from school, Robbie was gone.  I wanted to make sure he wasn't on our menu; alhumdulillah he wasn't.  However, he went to a family who is struggling to feed their children.  I know he died.  I know his meat was eaten.  Mr. Boo knows this too.  Alhumdulillah that his life benefitted not only us but others.

All of us have absent mindedly looked for him today.  Yes, we miss him.  No, we will not be getting another pet.

My father, God bless him, is a brilliant ecologist.  I once called him when I thought of euthanising Zuzu, my pet dog (before Islam) who was old and blind and in failing health.

"Dad," I had said, "I don't feel like it's my place to make a decision like that about her life."

He told me, "But you already did.  From the moment you took her into your home, you were playing with life and death.  She has had your care past the point where she could have fended for herself.  A frail dog in the wild would have been eaten by larger prey in the food chain.  You kept her past the time she was viable." 

"So, now, you are faced with the question of when to exit but there must be an exit.  Either you can exit when it's less painful for her or for you.  It seems, from all you tell me that she is no longer existing in a meaningful way.  It has become painful for her to function.  While it will be painful for you to put her to sleep, since you aren't letting her outdoors to fend for herself, it will have to be you who ends her life before she simply deterriorates."

 I added it up and bowed to logic.I did have her put to sleep after that phone call.  It made sense. 

Now, I'm not saying that me letting go of the rabbit is the same thing as me letting go of the aged dog.  I am trying to show how we step into responsibilities and we either do them joyfully or we must examine why we are not happy with it.  Is there anything we could change in ourselves or in our situation to make it go easier?  If it gets to a point where the responsibility is subtracting from your life (rather than adding) then it's time to let go.

I have done this with past marriages.

I am doing this with my current job.

I will ask for all of you to do it as well.  Think of the things which you are doing out of a sense of responsibility.  Do you do them joyfully?  Do you resent them?  Is there rage building inside you of anger unexpressed because you might seem disloyal?

Be real.  Be you.  Consider letting go of people, places and things which are no longer viable in your life.


Um Zakarya said...

Assalamu Aleykum dear sister,

SUbhanALLAH your post describes exactly what I feel about my prsent job (whuch I'm quitting tomorrow INSHALLAH), and my life in France.

I don't feel like keeping those responsibilities on my shoulders, they have become useless burdens.I think time comes for each of us to travel with light luggage.

LOt of love!

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Um Z.,

Wow! You are quitting?! Did you quit? I admire quitters :) It takes a lot of courage to quit actually. Having quit many things in my life (for good reasons) I think that the advice "stick with it" is stupid. When you know the direction you need for your life, it's pointless to keep going the opposite way.

For me? Seriously, I am hestitating. I would like a different job within our school BUT to go for it means I have to give up the one I've got NOW. EEEK! That's HARD! I would be banking on a possibility---a very good possibility but still...a job not yet in my hand.

The other part is that I've got some sadness to give up what I've built. I see one more year as being difficult; a "burden" as you say.

Light...funny how "light" in English means two things. It is both not heavy and illuminescent. I have been feeling too dark and heavy at work---not with the kids but with the powers that be. I feel like life could be lighter with a different person in charge of my job inshahallah.

We'll see if I'm brave enough to go for it!

No more France? I'll have to read up on you!

Love from Here to There!

Um Zakarya said...

I officially quitted the job today :)

The manager tried to convince me to stay, offered more money, and even dates and ZamZam water lol.But as I kept saying "I'm leaving", I felt I was making the right decision, ALHAMDULILLAH, for ALLAH, my husband, my son and myself.I felt a bit sad though as I was walking away, as this was my first "halal" job, in a muslim environment, and I had so many hopes about it.

I'm leavng France in July INSHALLAH, we'll be back to UK with hubby and after a while we'll try to settle in a muslim country INSHALLAH, we're thinking about Saudi Arabia.We'll see INSHALLAH.

About your job decision, I guess the only advice I could give you is pray Istikhara as much as you can (7 or 10 days) and see what you feel comfortable with INSHALLAH.Always remember you Risq won't be given to anyone else and you won't get anyone else's Rizq.

How are things going in Egypt nowadays?

Wish you the best for everything INSHALLAH.I really apreciated the advice about Gheebah!

Lot of love

Um Zakarya said...

Oh and btw you have been givne an award, please check on my blog INSHALLAH!