Attitude Of Gratitude – Looking Death In The Eye
I lost a close second-niece of mine, Salma, to lupus disease turned to cancer recently; she was not even 41 years old and a mother of two very young children. I had a strong bond of sorts with this particular niece – I have tons of them – since she was seeking alternative treatment for her ailment, something I had done for my bladder issue some years ago. Poor child, she suffered a great deal of pain, to the point where she wanted to live no more at the tail end and wanted out from the agony. Earlier, Salma did not give in easily, however. The disease struck her early in life, but she doggedly fought back with a grin and a no-nonsense will to beat the odds. What I also admired about her was her attitude of gratitude. I did not know what this term was or what it meant then, but it resonated personally after I came to practice this outlook with my inner drive more recently.
I was so sure Salma would overcome, both her forte and attitude were great forces to defeat what was eating her up inside but I guess she was wanted in a better place and had to leave. Of the few people in this world, in my lifetime, who have given me ‘wow’ moments to pause and reflect, Salma was one of them. RIP child.
When the doctor in Mumbai, India raised his bushy eyebrows and gravely informed me I may not live too long if I did not address the growth in my bladder without surgery and aggressive chemical intervention, my heart stopped beating for a brief moment.
Turd! Was my initial reaction. So soon? It was while the doctor was advising me of my treatment choices that I got a flash of all that I still wanted to accomplish. Of utmost importance was the construction of 25 schools by CAI in my lifetime that I had fervently prayed to Allah mia for. (We were at 15 then, now, we have just received funding for the 51st – serving about 30,000 poor kids receive a quality education!). Two of my elder brothers had succumbed to dreaded diseases with a downward spiral in their quality of life after the very possible treatments this doctor was suggesting. So I had thanked the bewildered and dumbfounded dude midway, refused his services and left.
Now, four years later, I am still mean and kicking, a badass magnified several folds. I had made a firm decision then that if I had to go, so be it, but in my terms. I would not make it easy for the Angel of Death to take me without a nasty battle. So Allah mia has asked him to wait before he comes a-knocking again. Until that time, I look at this Dunia with very different eyes.
Physically, it’s been gritty determination. I have to hit the gym almost every day, burning fat, adding muscle and giving birth to the natural inner defenses that Allah has granted and graced all of us. It’s not easy, this constant military regiment of grueling pushups and sit-ups 365 a year, especially in my travels when my accompanying collogues snore away blissfully after fajr. It is also a challenge keeping up running an average of a marathon every week or pumping iron when gravity has a mind of their own at my age. But just as Shanta Ben, my late Gujju homeopathy doctor from Mumbai, India had advised and predicted, the growth in the bladder is now dormant. Not diminished, but importantly, not growing either, which is a super positive development.
Mentally, where I sometimes walked a diplomatic line because it’s supposed decorum not to hurt sentiments of others by stating truths or brownnose the rich or supposed powerful, I speak my mind now, retaining very few friends as a result. Where I was conservative and averse to risks before, I take many more calculated chances, scaring my family and myself in the process; almost all life events are the chances we take. Where I would easily get into an argument for petty issues and get my chuddies in a twist, I now let it go and it bothers me none. As a matter of fact, after some tough getting used to, it’s a great relief not to have other people’s ignorant outlook dim my remaining bright days.
It is a 50/50 approach I have adopted, copied from a talk show on NPR recently. Life is such, a 50/50 chance to make any day eventful and productive or let others take over and make it disastrous or barren. And this stems from an attitude of gratitude. It’s very easy to be grateful when health and life are on autopilot. Having the fortitude of offering gratitude during turbulence is another matter, especially when we look at death in the eye. I saw this in Salma as well. This formula took time and practice to put in place, with many frustrating failures. But once conquered, this attitude has been a winner. For me.
I have tasted all that is sweet in this Dunia, but there is nothing that is sweeter than good health. And I have tasted all that is bitter, and there is nothing quite sour than being in need of elusive companionship. I’ve carried iron and rocks both, yet there is nothing heavier than debt. Know that life is two days, one for and one against you. And both will expire for sure – An apt and telling quote from Imam Ali (a).
Vivid Imaginations Is Ready – Delivery Status
Vivid Imaginations – A Memoir for the benefit of worldwide CAI orphans is out and shipped. Expect to receive your ordered and paid copy/copies early or by mid-month January 2020 at the latest. Insha’Allah. International orders will take a bit longer. Thank you for supporting the over 600 orphans under CAI care, sponsored with your dollars.