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What to do with empty boxes

I think life is a constant process of receiving pieces of yourself to get closer to the revelation of a final masterpiece that you can only dare to imagine. I say "dare" because perhaps it takes immense courage to believe that you have a purpose, but what's even more audacious is to allow yourself to pursue that purpose. There is a memorable movie from my childhood in which Debbie Reynolds tells her granddaughter that "magic is really very simple, all you've got to do is want something and then let yourself have it."

Sometimes we spend far too many years running away from the magic because it is much easier to hold onto a dream forever than to find out what happens if it comes to life. And I can make all the excuses in the world about money and responsibilities and probabilities and all the other -abilities that hinder my own; but I'd be the only con artist in the world to hustle no one but myself out of what I was truly endowed. 

What a shame it would be throw away the biggest gift in the pile because you are too afraid to see if the box inside is empty. And I guarantee there are times when it will be a complete black hole that you stare into waiting for something to appear out of thin air. So you pick the box up and drag it with you, and you fill it with the call of the Azaan against the morning sunrise and the wetness of the concrete after a Karachi thunderstorm and the hovering majesty of the Kyrgyz mountains and the crackling leaves under the Georgia shade and the mystical carvings of Al Hambra and the first snowfall of the Canadian winter. You take it to every corner of the globe and every inch of your heart's memories to fill it with all the laughter and heartbreaks that it takes to make it so heavy that you have no choice but to unload it so that you can pick up the next box and the next one and the next one.

The character in my book is 11-years-old, 20 years younger than I turned today. I think it has taken me at least that long to prepare myself to receive this first glimpse into a story that I finally felt compelled enough to write down, if only for myself. It's a story about identity and the intersection of wonderfully complex narratives through which we learn to define ourselves. In particular, it has been an important goal of mine to express what it meant to grow up in the West as a Pakistani Muslim child in the wake of rampant misinformation and divisiveness - a reality that we continue to so dangerously straddle as trustees of tomorrow. But my real hope is that people will not see me at all, but rather themselves reflected in it, for aren't we all on the outside of somewhere trying to look in with the hopes of being seen and heard and loved for being our authentic selves? Perhaps then, it is a story of our collective ambition to recognize what connects us, maybe even what protects us, in this tumultuous era of noise.

I have no plan of what happens next with this file on my iCloud other than upcoming months of painstaking revisions and peer critique, but I don't believe the final reveal is my call to make, only the current page turn. To all those who have been a part of the preparation for me to finally put pen to paper - in inspiration, in encouragement, in craft, in direction, and in giving me the time and space to disappear over the last couple of months to let myself have this magic - there is no greater gift I could have asked for today than to be able to receive this part of myself. Thank you!