A Tribute to the Greatest

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)…

As I lay awake in this deep of night, I know that in just a few short weeks I won’t be seeing 2 AM anymore. Unless, of course, I’m on night float. But in these remaining late nights I want to pen down some of my thoughts. If you’ve tried to access the site in the last year, you may have noticed that it required a password. Frankly, I’m a bit ashamed to say that I censored myself out of the fear that this site might somehow affect my application to residencies. Though the content here is not very objectionable, I still ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the potential risk. I had previously prided myself on being candid in a public forum in the hopes that it may inspire others, but somewhere along the way I lost that. I succumbed to cynicism in conjunction with the opinions of others, but now it’s taken the passing of a giant to force me to 2amreflect once again (cue theme music)!

When I was in elementary school, I had to do a project on a famous influential figure. I am not sure what prompted me at the time, but I chose Muhammad Ali. I remember checking out a book about him (back when books were still used to do projects) and being fascinated by just the course of his life. Here’s a man who changed his entire identity, including his name and never looked back or backed down. As a kid I couldn’t begin to understand the ramifications of renouncing war even in the face of jail time and even worse the potential end of your career. But he did it as he did all things – with grace and a whole lot of flare. Moments like these are what make me look at my own life and wonder what I could give up for what I believe in. I’m reminded of the prayer of the Prophet (S) after he was stoned and insulted in the city of Taif when trying to deliver the message of Islam, in which he said,

‘…O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care…’

This other worldly mindset is what sets great men apart – the willingness to sacrifice so much for something bigger than yourself no matter the obstacle. It’s what made Muhammad Ali so special. There have been plenty of amazing athletes, but only one is the greatest. And it’s because he was the greatest in and out of the ring. It’s because he recognized that all the accolades he gained in boxing didn’t define him, but the way he treated people that spoke volumes.

So I can think of no better tribute to the man that he was MashaAllah (by the grace of God), than to try and learn from his example. There are so many facets of his life to choose from, be it his physical prowess, his steadfastness against racism and injustice, or his preaching of good character. Whatever it is I urge you to not just read or listen to the words, but really act as he did so that he may continue to live on.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon, surely we belong to God and to Him we shall return.

Happy [greatest of all time] Reflecting,
Naj

Moving On

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)…

About a year ago when I first started this blog, graduation was heavy on my mind. I didn’t write down my ruminations at the time, so when I actually made my first post I was already past the feelings of moving on from college. It’s only appropriate that now, at that same time of year, I try to revisit some of those old reflections. (I’ll finish the third installment of Thankfulness sometime soon, but judging by my current blog writing pace it’ll probably be around Thanksgiving…)  I’ve completed 1 year of medical school and college graduates around the country are beginning to face the “real” world, but more importantly I just finished watching like 20 episodes of the final season of The Office. The finale stirred up the same feelings I had last year at the end of college and embedded within this reflection is an ode to The Office – the first TV show I ever binged on in high school. Don’t worry, no major spoiler alerts to follow.

It’s amazing how despite the different courses our college careers can take, we all share the same feelings at the end of it- a mix of gratitude, sadness, joy, anxiety, nostalgia etc. But it’s not just college, the same feelings surface at the end of any great era – college, high school, 12 years at Dunder Mifflin, or even life. Every small chapter we live through can stand alone as it’s own entity, “college life,” “work life,” “home life.” They are all small microcosms of our entire being, so the end of each is kind of like it’s own death.

I was obsessed last year with the idea that the way I felt at the end of college was like what it must be like on my death bed. You know, except way less intense. It must be our body’s way of training itself to feel that same catharsis at so many different points; from the end of a TV series to the end of our days. After we move on from that climax of emotions, though, it seems like all of our memories are filed away in the same place, regardless of time. Try remembering something from the last 5 years, now try remembering from the last 15… do they feel any closer in time? Not really, so I can’t imagine that anything from 50 years of life is that much different either. From a religious perspective, I understand it as God’s way of reminding us that this life is transient. But from a worldly perspective, it’s a reminder that the memories we hold are only as special as we let them be. The best of memories are the ones we continually come back to – the ones that truly shape who we are. Sadly, however, our memories aren’t as reliable as we want them to be, so I’m proposing that we help our future selves out. Instead of letting our memories fade to the recesses of our mind where they might never again see the light of day, I say we capitalize on our catharses!

Of the most memorable quotes from the finale is one by Phyllis when she said, “I worked for a paper company all these years, but I never wrote anything down.” I am always a shameless supporter of reflecting, so you shouldn’t be surprised that now is no different. But beyond just reflecting, I underestimated the importance of writing. I regret not keeping a journal in college to chart my growth because while we’ll likely never have a documentary crew following us around for 10 years, we have the power to take little snapshots of our mind by writing our thoughts down. I assure you that having a quick journal is one of the best decisions you can make. Reading my 2amreflections and especially my private journal/ dream log (yup, there are reflections too personal to be hoisted onto the interweb) from this past year is like being able to see myself separated from my body. Some of the thoughts I had that were so important to me then mean nothing now, and others are amplified beyond belief. It’s just amazing how much we change SubhanAllah (Glory be to God.) It’s time we become cognizant of who we were, so we know who we are and who we are going to be:

Do not run through life 
so fast that you forget 
not only where you have been, 
but also where you are going.

– Author unknown (might be on some fortune cookies)

Happy [written] Reflecting,

Naj