Friday, June 3, 2016

Mayfly Birthday

Asalamu Alaykom,

It's been a while.

It's been almost 48 years.

That's a lot of years and a lot of birthdays.

Actually, Prince (God bless him and grant him peace), believed he had only one birth day.

It's amazing to be alive at all.  15-25% of pregnancies do not survive.  Alhumdulillah for those that didn't and alhumdulillah for those that did.

I've just been reading about baby traditions around the world.  Celebration timings vary from the first week to the first tooth 

---and you have to watch the Armenian ceremony when the baby chooses his or her work tools for the future.

In Bali, it is the 210th day that is special since only then is a baby let down onto his or her own feet.  Mashahallah.  Imagine the commitment the whole family makes to ensure that baby is always held.

So many babies don't make it to their first birthday.  For every 1,000 babies born in the world, 6 die before they reach a year.  Subhanallah.

Now, once again I need to remember that I have survived those perilous months-- many, many, MANY times over.  I am blessed.  Alhumdulillah.

It's easy to feel those 576 months weigh down on me like kilos---especially when people assume I would rather shed them in a kind of anni-ectomy.

To everyone who has said, "You don't look 47," I want to say, "Obviously, I must because I am and soon I will be 48.  This is what 48 looks like."

Other birthdays have a cute nickname.  There is the Golden Birthday when your new age matches the date you were born.  There is Sweet Sixteen when you finally get kissed by Jake Ryan.

See Molly and Michael from 32 years ago ?

I went to summer camp with one of the extras who stands in the school bathroom with Anthony Michael Hall and John Cusack to admire undies.  That young actor housed me secretly in his DePaul dorm room (completely platonically) in Chicago so I could audition for their drama program.  I didn't get in.  There are many times I didn't get what I wanted, and I'm grateful for all those disappointments ---at the time I wanted to disappear off the face of the earth.  I didn't.

I'm still here.

I'm here, and I have made up a cute nickname for my 48th birthday.  I got to thinking that 48 is really the number we think of as 48 hours---and then either the TV show or the Eddie Murphy movie.

It's the equivalent of two days.  I wanted to make a connection between two days and my 48th birthday.  What lasts two days?

I thought of the mayfly.    That's a mayfly at the top of this post.  I thought they were rather ugly until I saw this macro picture.  The wings are disco-diva iridescent.  While a mayfly doesn't get the same admiration as a butterfly---they aren't as "nice"---it truly is an amazing creation worthy of admiration (as it alllllllllllll is).  

A mayfly isn't known for its longevity.  Two days is the maximum.  It is such a temporary creature that it hardly seems fair to kill it, even if it swarms in with hundreds of others. A mayfly belongs to the genus, or family name, of ephemera

Ephemera, noun (from Greek emphemeros) things that exist or are used for only a short time.

However, there's another definition which states, "something of no lasting significance". 

That's vastly different to me.  I have accepted that I will not exist on this earth forever, but I do hope and pray that my life will have lasting significance.  This is why I am a mother and a teacher.  

There was this precious conversation I had on the school bus with my boy this week.  We talked over the connection between Rip Van Winkle and Ramadan.  Washington Irving's story is actually Surah Al Kahf in American trappings and Ramadan is the month we can chose to be like Rip, mindlessly idle, or like Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) fully engaged in a daily betterment program.  I tried to impart 7:20 AM wisdom.  Did he "get" it?

"So, " El-Kid, at age 10, questioned, "if I listen to you and do a good job with my life, then you will get good sins?"

"Deeds not sins, " I corrected.  He apparently was also feeling the 7:20 AM.  "What's really great is that, even after I'm no longer alive, I can collect good deeds if you help other people learn any of the good I've taught you---and taught the kids at school.  Subhanallah, right?"

I am here for a short time, but I am determined to make it significant.

Therefore, I will look at my transformation into a 48-year-old as my Mayfly Birthday.  Yes, I know that it sounds nasty to name a celebration after a bug, but keep in mind that both halves of that compound word have double meanings.  May can be the month in spring or it can be a modal verb meaning "possibility".  Fly can be the noun, the insect,  or the verb, meaning to travel through the air.  That idea of possibly sailing from where I am through the atmosphere to another higher level is another reason to have a May-fly Birthday.


What makes it even more important to me this year is that this is the first time in 30 years that my birthday will be in Ramadan.  

The lunar or Islamic/Hijri calendar takes 30 years to move around the solar or Christian/Gregorian calendar.  I haven't had my birthday in Ramadan since I was turning 18.  

In 1986, when I was 18, I didn't have any idea that I would be a Muslim teacher in Egypt.  If you had told me that, I would have laughed.  I was going to be an actress.  18 is a turning point.  It is adulthood when you have to make real choices for your future (not just on an Armenian table top).  It seems that making the wrong choice will flip your world upside-down from which you will never recover.

My eldest son is 21, graduating university this month, alhumdulliah, and feeling that his next step must be a good one---no, a great one!  "One small step for man..." and all that.

At almost 48, I can testify that I have goofed up, flubbed up, and screwed up a multitude of times to the nth degree, yet through the Grace of God my life is exactly what it was always meant to be.  Alhumdulillah.  It doesn't mean that I'm always happy about it, or that I can easily accept what I'm given with gratitude.  No, I get caught in stinkin' thinkin'.  

This year has had a lot of that and I am sorry that I wasted time.

For the year ahead, which starts with a month of fasting, I will inshahallah re-focus on....

This blog is in need of an overhaul.  I will be making sure over the summer that it still an accurate extension of who I am and who I want to be (not just who I was).  If you are a reader of this blog, like Shafaq and Deanna, then thank you for being here.  I am sorry that I haven't been here.  

Just as I only take photos when I'm happy, I only blog when I have something to say---at least more than 140 characters on Twitter.  I haven't been here because I didn't know what made enough sense to anyone else.  Hopefully, there will be something that speaks to you----if it does, then that's from Allah; if it doesn't, that's from me.

Love and Light! 


Anonymous said...

Assalamu Alaikum sister.
Honestly, I didn't go through this post.I saw image of the drug addict that pop singer and lost interest in reading.

Yosra said...


That's really too bad----and another reason to evaluate why I would write this blog. Remember, I waited from January to June before venturing forth to say anything here. You stopped by and NOPE you judge the post and walk away. I mean, thanks for least I know you were here.

What simply is a head-shaker is that you didn't EVEN listen to the Prince video. It was all of 33 seconds. You don't even know what he said. He was all salafi on it---saying that birthdays aren't something he celebrates.

You referred to him as "the drug addict that pop singer" as if he didn't have a name. That man loved God A LOT. Maybe you don't like the way he loved God but you will have to look wide and far to find another person who brought his spirituality to so many. Did you know that he placed the Lord's Prayer in a song?

Honestly, I'm not asking for a debate.

What would possess you to be this discounting? Is this how you go through life? You look and dismiss? You are going to miss out on an awful lot of people.

Little story: Many years ago, a day out at the zoo with my three kids meant that we were mingling with a lot of non-Muslims. In the summer months, that meant seeing a lot of half-naked people. I stood there with a woman, a young mom, who was hard to miss. I tried not to give her a dirty look---because we were both there with young children and she was---


She was talking to me. She was telling me that she had extra ride points that she wouldn't be using since they'd be going home. She was kind. She was polite. Sure, she dressed 180 degrees differently than me, BUT in the end I benefited from this woman.


If she had felt stand-offish with me, then I would have been the loser. She had every societal norm telling her that a woman in hijab was a freak and not to talk to her. She talked to me; she reached out to me and gave to me. God bless her.

Ramadan is almost here. Whether or not you're fasting, please consider purging yourself from this unhealthy way of shutting down from information, truth, and differences.

Wishing you love...which you give easily, and light...which you don't dim (not in yourself or others).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your effort.But I am allergic to alcohol,drugs and other intoxicate related things including the one who uses it.He or She may be a divine or godly person.

May Allah reward you.
My Dua's deep from my heart to you and your children.


Jamie said...

Please don't quit writing. I feel like I have spent years reading your blog. I have checked weekly for posts....always eagerly awaiting an update. You give me hope and I appreciate it 💙

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! I hope you have a year of celebrations, every single day. Celebrate because it is good to be alive, you feel good to be healthy and it is wonderful that you have people that love you. I wish that for you every day of your 48th year,your mayfly year. So celebrate joyfully.

I really wish there was an emphasis on mental health worldwide. We pay so much heed to our physical health but forget that our mental state is what will eventually color our life and almost force us to make choices that may not be good for us. I am fully convinced that paying more heed to mental health will help us mitigate drug and alcohol issues to a great extent in all cultures and all strata of society, rock stars and the homeless alike.

Ramadaan Kareem to you and your family as you start your month of fasting.

Deanna Troi

iremi nisces said...

Asalamu alaikum, thanks for sharing. What do you think of Hajj - Islamic Pilgrimage To Makkah , come share your thoughts..

Take Care

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Jamie,

Good to know! I appreciate you writing and telling me.

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

Thank you.

Life is a balancing act, yes, and I hope to be doing more of it.

Wa Alaykom Asalam Iremi,

I am scared to go on Hajj. The Saudi government is bombing Yemen which feels so wrong. I don't think I could trust a host to treat me right who has so betrayed their neighbor. All you have to do is look at their recent track record to see that it is dangerous to go to Mecca. Until I feel the goodness and care from Saudi, I am not planning to attend.

God willing, there will be improvements.

Love and Light to All!