Saturday, September 2, 2017

Looting Your Life

Asalamu Alaykom,

I am in the process of looting, but don't worry it's from my own home.  It isn't the first time I've done it, and it won't be the last.  It's this weird feeling of an impending move with such urgency that it's easy to imagine the Nazis are at the door or a tidal wave is about ready to engulf you.  It's a grab-quick-and-think-later policy.

For me, this time, it's overwhelming because at the same time that I'm envisioning the one day I've got until I leave, I have to be picturing the first day of school.  It's destruction and creation in one week.

Allah is in charge of both those elements in our lives.

I am ruining our carefully packed home, filled with items I didn't even remember I had, in order to begin a new job in a new city.  It's strange.  Everything was fine here; layered on top of each other.  I have torn it all up looking for what I need to restart.

As I tear it up, I realize that a lot of it has become needless.  It has become superfluous to who I am now and what I'm doing.  Some of it hurts me to see it---especially when I see all the effort I put forth into the Islamic school job that only lasted a month.  The memory of that brought me to tears and I know some of the sadness is actually fear that it could all happen again.  Some of it feels me with joy---like my shopping spree in the US when I could still afford items marked with a dollar sign.

The totality of it is too much.  Load after load, I'm bringing up what I think I'll need and after each load I've forgotten; I've gotten something wrong.  "You can't take it with you," is true.  There's too much to cart around (even on a three-hour train ride).

At the same time as I'm adjusting to the idea of grabbing and going, prioritizing our needs, and visualizing the future, I see the news.  Rohingya Muslims are fleeing to the Bangladeshi border from Burma and Houston residents are staying in emergency shelters as they deal with the flood waters.  These two groups are but a few of my fellow citizens who have had to grab and go; to make quick decisions about what they need and what they want and what they simply can't bring.

It's a painful part of life.

We used to have two goats that would stand on our neighbor's roof and they were funny.  Goats are so funny.  They would watch me typing in the early morning hours when no one else was awake.  STARE at me to the point where I would get startled to see them through the open window.  I really believed they might jump in our home!

This Thursday, they stared at us one last time, as we ate the goat dinner from one of our slaughtered goats.  It was after my day of fasting for Arafat and I needed to eat.  It did make me pause to think of how unsavory the experience was:  goats watching us eat goat.

Now, those goats are gone too.  I miss them.  We don't have pets here; we have animals in our lives that are either strays or food.  Those goats fed a family and helped to feed the poor.  Alhumdulillah.

There's one goat remaining on our roof:  Tigun.  This is the little baby goat I helped keep warm a year and a half a go on a cold January morning.  He's so big now!  I didn't plead for his life, but I put it out there that I didn't want him to die.  Alhumdulillah, he's still alive, although he's been sad and been calling out for the others.  I made sure he got the mango peels from our kitchen this morning.

What can we do?  We create and we destroy too.

The night before the neighbor's goats were to be slaughtered for Eid, I talked to them.  We were so close because they came right to the edge of their roof to be near to us.  I talked nicely to them.  I thanked them for keeping me company all these months.  I told them to enjoy the night; the cool breeze, the sounds and smells.  I watched them one last time frolic around and then I shut the windows.

Now, the windows are open and no one is there.

We do---we absolutely do---surround ourselves with what makes us feel good.  However, there comes a time when we can't hold on to it...not all of it.  Either it has to leave or we have to leave it.

The day after tomorrow, I leave.  I'll be gone from here for months.  I'll take what I can take.  I know that I made it to Egypt with four suitcases.  I can make it back to Alex with less.

In shah Allah.  

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