In today’s Sunday Preach, I’d like to give you a glimpse of how my brain processes the universe’s complexities. I warn you; this isn’t for those who prefer to live without asking questions. There may be a bit of bias in this post — contrary to what I usually attempt to convey — and certain parts may not be relevant to your reality. My mind is forever in motion, trying to unravel the beauty underneath the superficial and materialistic realm.
This preach is long, but I promise you, it’s worth the read.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I simply don’t. You can if you want, but I believe every choice I make, every action I take and every person I meet is meant to happen. The universe is a mystery and beyond my comprehension. Regarding choice, I believe the universe has paved multiple destinies based on our choices. These paths are riddled with circumstances, lessons, consequences and rewards we only discover once we’ve started exploring them. Religious people will say that our destiny is predetermined; for example, our wealth, partner (or singlehood), and path are already maktoub (written). While this may be true, I think these people only see part of the truth. Indeed the Creator and His religion are divine and beyond the scope of our understanding. If we’re only prescribed a single destiny, what would be the point of praying for something we desperately want (in Arabic, we call this form of prayer a du’a)? Why would we need to make any choice in life? If God can make the impossible possible, what stops Him from changing your destiny? I believe that the outcome of our life, which is to die, is inevitable and written, but how we get there and what we leave behind are determined by our choices. As my mother once told me, “Hazar, you can’t just snort coke and say, ‘It’s my destiny and God’s Will to snort coke.'” Common, y’all. Yes, it is a hyperbolic example, and my mother has an interesting way of making a great point. The how in our story, which we call life, comprises a series of destinies we can pursue based on our choices. I’m not making any sense, am I? Let me paint you a picture:
You have a routine. You wake up, wash up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head to work. Your route is always the same; drive down to Clarkson GO station in Mississauga, ON, park your car and run to catch the 7:55 AM train because you enjoy the rush you get from almost missing the train. This time, however, you miss it because you tripped on an object that slowed you down. This wasn’t there, you mutter to yourself, frustrated. You stand there feeling defeated and wait in the cold for the 8:07 AM express train. As you wait for the train, someone approaches you and stands beside you. You look up from scrolling Instagram and, like a good Canadian, give this individual a smile to acknowledge their presence. This person smiles back and starts a typical Canadian small-talk conversation on the weather. You laugh, thinking about the 100 times a day Canadians obsess over the weather. This leads to an exchange of pleasantries, and as the train approaches, you both fall silent, awaiting it to stop. At this very moment, you both have a choice: continue the conversation or smile and say, “It was nice to meet you.” The options you have can be compared to a fork in the road. If you choose to continue the conversation, it may lead you on a path to a new friendship (or foe) or may be a pleasant (or terrible) way to pass the time on your way to work; if you choose to say it was nice to meet you, it may simply leave you on the path on which you’re already walking. Or option three: the course of your journey has already changed regardless of your choice because the simple notion of meeting someone at a train station somehow affected your mood or attitude, thereby contributing to your future decisions.
I met someone I was never supposed to meet last summer. If I were to believe that my reality was limited to only what I knew, then this person should have never existed in my world. No way could I have imagined in a million years that I would meet this person in the manner and time I met them. And no, it wasn’t at Clarkson GO station — clearly, I can imagine that happening because it wouldn’t be unusual in my reality. No. This person came into my life in the most exceptional circumstances, beyond all odds, yet, at a perfect time when I needed to meet such an individual. I was contemplating a choice that would have led me on a challenging path because I was on the brink of giving up on myself yet again. Then this person appeared out of nowhere, and I was presented with an alternate journey. I had a choice: let this person into my life, or say, f*ck it, and self-destruct. I told you last week that while I see a world of beautiful colour, I am but a broken-hearted, vulnerable masterpiece in progress.
A reason, a season or a lifetime
Have you ever met someone where, in the first 15 seconds, you get an instinctual, powerful magnetic feeling that draws you into their circle? The moment you see them, the world shines brighter as though their aura is a bursting ray of bright light; the moment they utter a word, the world around you goes mute, and all you hear is their voice echoing in a silent void. You can’t help but gravitate towards them. Last year, I met a lot of fascinating people. I have an intellectual curiosity and love to meet people from all over the globe because I thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Meeting new people is one of the ways I learn, grow and strive to be better and do better. The stranger I met last summer muted my otherwise loud personality with their calm energy. This was good for me because my thoughts were loud, confused and scattered, and I begged the universe to shut it all off so I could think clearly. Lo and behold, the universe answered and sent someone my way to anchor my spirit. I knew from that moment my entire destiny was on uncharted waters. I am a woman with a plan and always map out my life six months at a time. If plan A didn’t work, I always had plans B, C, and D on standby, ready to implement. However, this person was not part of any plan, and the lessons they had to offer were outside any guidebook I’ve ever read. I was taken out of my comfort zone and terrified of what that would mean.
Everything has to come to an end eventually. People come into our lives for many unknown reasons. If we have heightened self-awareness, we may discover those reasons over time. On the other hand, we may never know why people show up on the road we’re travelling. Some people come into our life briefly for a reason, and they leave once that reason is fulfilled. Some may stick around and grow with us until death-do-us part. Such is the circle of life. What does it mean, though, for someone to come into our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime?
I just called to say hello
My parents took my sister and me to Honolulu, Hawaii, for my sixth birthday in 1995. The airlines couldn’t seat us together on the flight, so my parents decided my chatter-box self would be comfortable sitting with a stranger since my sister had severe separation anxiety at the time (she was five years old). I looked to my right and said hello to the stranger sitting beside me. She smiled and asked me if I’d ever been on a plane. I’ll never forget her; Robin was her name. I told her it was my birthday and then proceeded to talk her ear off about anything and everything I knew for the entire flight, which wasn’t much at that age. The details of what we talked about are a blur, but I remember what I felt around her and how she impacted my trip and my life after that. My parents must have apologized to her 100 times for my talkative nature, but she laughed and insisted it was OK every time. One thing I do remember from our conversation was asking her if she was married. She replied that she wasn’t. When I asked her why, she smiled and said, “I don’t need to be married.” Six-year-old me thought that was ridiculous! My parents told me everyone gets married eventually! I was going to get married someday! It’s part of life. It’s a duty. If you’ve been following my feminist posts, you can see how well I understand her response now. As the plane descended, she pulled out a card and told me to have the best birthday. She had stepped away to write me a birthday wish on a greeting card she just happened to have on her. We exited the plane, she waved, and that was the end of our encounter.
Some people come into our lives briefly to support us or teach us a lesson in times when we’ve expressed an unspoken need. Six-year-old me was constantly told by her teachers and parents that she talked too much and that people don’t like those who don’t know when to stay quiet. I was an unusually happy child growing up, and talking was my way to express my innocence and trust in others. Robin made me feel normal. Robin gave me space to be myself, and while I don’t know if she enjoyed our conversation, she showed me that my voice and thoughts were heard and valued. Her comment about not needing to be married still echoes in my head today. I didn’t understand it then, but I see how impactful those six words were to my life. She could have chosen to ignore me; however, something tells me I was also meant to walk into her life. I choose to believe that meeting and choosing to entertain a six-year-old may have tailored her destiny.
I can show you the (cruel) world
Meeting people is a two-way street. Someone coming into your life doesn’t always mean you have or need something from them. Sometimes, you meet someone who needs to learn from you. You may have knowledge and wisdom to share from your life experiences.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) hired me as a Student Border Services Officer (sBSO) for the summer of 2009. This was quite possibly the most exciting job I’ve held. As an sBSO, I assessed travellers coming to Canada and determined their admissibility into the country. The CBSA recognizes the importance of allowing our youth to grow and learn, yet is fully aware of the risks of hiring 19-year-olds to perform a high-security and privileged job. Therefore, measures are implemented to limit them from power-tripping and suffering a significant culture shock. Only some people can work in law enforcement, so students are hired on short-term contracts, limited to primary inspection roles, and heavily supervised. I was not immune to the high one gets from carrying so much authority. I was 19 and eager to contribute to Canada’s safety like any student new to the workforce. I tried hard not to let the power get to my head, and I did a pretty good job, if I may say so!
We’ll name him Mark. I met Mark in 2009 on the job following a five-week training. He was a born-and-raised Canadian who walked the airport like he owned the place. If White male privilege were a person, Mark was it. He had a charisma that attracted a lot of attention, good and bad; in other words, he was the popular kid on the block. Mark and I were never friends but were on the same roster, so we worked together often. At the start of our contract, we all had to fill out clearance forms to get our “purple badge”, which would give us access to the entire airport. While we waited to be cleared by the Airport Authority, we held a “yellow badge”, limiting our movement to only our designated working area. This meant I needed an escort whenever I wanted to get a Starbucks coffee until I received my purple badge. Most students, including Mark, received their purple badge within the first month of their contract. While waiting for mine, Mark would joke about why I was still a yellow badger. He nicknamed me “Sketch bag” because I was of North African-Arab descent.
It didn’t matter that I was raised in Canada. To him, I was just another Arab sketch bag, a risk to our security because of my origins. I laughed with all the other kids because I figured it was a harmless joke. As the days went on, he would make jokes about how my people were terrorists and would ask me if I had anything under my vest. I don’t think I have to explain to you what he implied. What started as what I thought was a harmless joke made my working conditions more uncomfortable and toxic. Near the end of the summer, I finally received my purple badge, and when I excitedly showed it to him, hoping it would stop the harassment, he said, “Doesn’t make you any less of a sketch bag,” and his entourage of friends laughed. I walked away feeling humiliated. One day, Mark called me over to his booth and, in front of his friends, pointed out the window to a WestJet plane driving by. He asked me, “Would you orgasm if Osama Bin Laden blew up this plane right now?” This was the final straw. As his friends laughed, my face turned red with rage, and I replied, “You crossed a line.” I stormed off to my booth and angrily typed a formal complaint to my superintendent. He ran over to my booth once he realized he had taken it too far and started pleading and apologizing. I was having none of it. I was done being nice to this guy.
I chose not to pursue the HR investigation because, like most female victims of harassment, I didn’t want to ruin his career. Besides, I sincerely believed he had learned his lesson. He may have been allowed to finish his contract with the CBSA that summer, but all the superintendents and full-time officers knew the type of person he was. Even his friends distanced themselves from him. Suddenly, they didn’t know who he was. Public opinion is sometimes a much harsher judge than the justice system.
I never saw Mark again after that summer. I would like to believe meeting me was his wake-up call and that he made good use of the second chance I gifted him by not ruining his future. In my case, I learned a valuable lesson about expressing my boundaries sooner rather than later. My destiny took another turn once I stood up for myself.
I want to grow old with you
I am incredibly blessed to have beautiful friends in my circle. Of those friends, I have five soul sisters in the world. They know who they are, and I hope my sisters know how valued and important they are to me. My love for them is unconditional and non-judgmental. I met these courageous, fierce women at different moments in my time and instantly knew they were here to stay. I could have chosen to keep my first interaction with them short and sweet, but I guarantee my life would be different without them. People you connect with on a deep and spiritual level are meant to teach and learn from you lifelong lessons that transform your future in extraordinary ways. They’re there to build, grow, learn and live with you, no matter what life throws at you. You are each other’s support system in this tumultuous world; together, you’re invincible.
My soul sisters have lived. They struggled, failed, and experienced life’s punches, yet against all odds, they stood up and chose to succeed. They chose themselves above all else and the path to self-love and empowerment. One doesn’t just meet someone like my soul sisters. Timing is everything. You may meet a strong and beautiful soul but are not quite ready to accept pure authenticity because you’re not yet there on your journey. They may only appear on your journey in passing to teach you a valuable lesson, learn from you, and go on their way. However, when your heart is whole and ready to open up, they’ll take your hand and share in your destiny. When you meet that person, cherish their every being because it is the most precious gift you can receive as you navigate your future.
Until we meet again stranger
It’s never easy for me to accept that some people are not meant to be in my life forever, especially when they positively impact my life. However, some people have to leave to make room for us to continue to grow and be the best versions of ourselves. It may hurt like a b!tch when they go or when you choose to walk away, but if the world stopped at that moment, you will never know what else is waiting for you on the other side of it. The future is filled with limitless possibilities and roads untravelled. It’s your job to explore them to discover your potential and what adventures await you.
The stranger I met last summer was a friend who changed my life. Choosing to meet and learn from them led me to what I had longed for my whole life; discovering my self-worth. I knew how to love myself, as I mentioned in my previous post, “Marriage or Success: Women Can’t Have Both,” but I didn’t quite understand just how worthy I was of love, respect and appreciation. Eventually, our friendship taught me exactly what I wanted for myself in life. I know which road to take from now on. I don’t know what to expect on my journey as I continue my path, but the stranger from last summer helped me realize the road I was initially on was not where I wanted to be. Turning the tables, I, in turn, showed them what it was like to choose yourself, your happiness and inner peace, so you didn’t have to rely on others to fill your void. I will never know if they learned what I shared and applied the lessons to their life. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever meet them again. All I know is that we were from two completely different worlds and met only because the universe — God, that is —intentionally made our paths cross. Regardless of how or why we met, I appreciate the time I had to share my life experiences and learn from them to continue to build myself. While it was genuinely nice to meet them, I hope our paths cross once more one day so we can meet again in better shape than when we first met that summer’s day.
Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay