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Manifestation as an act of gratitude

For many years, I interpreted the popular notion of "manifesting your dreams" as a forward-looking exercise for conjuring what I don't already have. What has been interesting in the past months is the re-presentation of this idea to me through a lens of gratitude for where I am and what I have in front of me today. It positions me in a strange conundrum to be sure – what does being 'still' today have to do with moving forward tomorrow? Is my life as it is now, anything short of a dream?

Admittedly, I am someone who really struggles with living in the present. As a big picture thinker, I have lofty goals for how I see myself fulfilling my purpose in the world 5, 10, 20 years from now; and, as much as the long-term vision drives me, sometimes it makes me miserable for everything I feel I have not achieved today to reach those elusive moving targets. This year started off in such a state of self-pity, fueled by numerous rejections and letdowns against all the milestones I had set for myself. If you are scrolling to end of this blog expecting to see whether the tides suddenly turned when I finally 'let it all go', you will be equally disappointed (for now, that is).

I think, and others with perfectionism anxiety may agree, that never meeting your own expectations is an exhausting way to approach life, a life that deserves to be celebrated even amidst the neverending influx of global crises, grief, and loss. My definition of facing the world courageously entails a sense of hope and idealism that I wanted to relearn as the pandemic took its toll on myself and those around me. So, I've been working hard to modify the way my brain interprets challenges through an ongoing but arduous inward-looking journey informed by neuroscience and spiritual practice (the two are not mutually exclusive in Islam). Our neurons are as set in our ways as we are, and conditioning them to exude new responses takes consistent effort and patience. And, the soul? Well, it just faces a short-term memory loss of sorts and has to do a lot of recollection and remembrance.

There is much research on both the scientific and spiritual paths that points to the immense benefits of consciously invoking thanks, or Shukrana, for the minutia of our everyday existence that we perhaps take for granted in pursuit of all that is yet to come. All of the things I DON'T have to worry about far outweigh those that keep me up at night, if only I give them the head space and opportunity to manifest.

So, today I faced my camera-conscious anxieties to do an author portrait shoot with an artist I deeply admire, Noor Al-Mosawi, at a place whose contribution to society leaves me in awe, The Children's Book Bank


Because, one day in the future, I will be a published author. But, today, I am trying to celebrate being a 'pre-published author', as my friend Nathalie calls it. One day I will be physically and mentally healthier, but today I am grateful to be smiling from ear to ear. And, one day, maybe I will do something extraordinary for the world, Inshallah. But, today, the world has done a lot of extraordinary things for me, Alhamdulillah.

Photo by Maël BALLAND from Pexels