Friday, May 04, 2007

It's a Long Way to the Top

I remember when I first went to school. I was 3 years old and my dad drove me to school, at which point I panicked and wept, and vomitted, and wept some more. But my dad had to go to work, so I was left there with people I didn't know. I remember sitting in my cubbyhole, not joining the other kids when they were playing. I would regularly sneak out of my classroom when the teacher wasn't looking and go to my sister's class (she was in grade 2 then) and stand at the door until she made me go back.

18 years of school later, how have I changed? (You know, I would still prefer to sit in a cubbyhole than with people I don't know.) And what a strange journey it has been--the most amazing memories, and the most degrading and painful ones, all wrapped up in a little thing we like to call education. And how impatient I have been to be done with "education" and start making a difference in the world instead.

It's interesting what we learn in these years, and how we grow. I understand now that education isn't just about getting A's and building yourself a future. And even if it was, I'm seemingly at the end of this building project, with little more than a mud hut. But no, this is not what education is about.

Learning is a spiritual journey as much as it is one of the mind. So often do we try and try, and fail. But then we learn to deal with failures, and to brush ourselves off, start afresh. Such is the soul--a consistent failure until we brush it off and start again, and again, and again. The soul is about sleepless nights, about regret that you didn't push yourself a little harder for a little while longer. It's about writing yourself in the history books of others, and learning to read those histories for what they really are. It's about learning that you have to do your best and then put your trust in God.

I suppose in the end, education is really meant to teach you the futility of itself! Because what is education, really, without any kind of higher purpose or enlightenment? What is an education that doesn't make you a better person to be around? The way I see it, formal education just highlights the other experiences you have growing up.

With all this in mind, it is so scary to actually be moving on to something new and different. All I've known is school, a place where you are under the control of another person. Now I have to take control of the wheel of my life. And to be honest, I don't know how well of a driver I will make.


Dreamlife said...

I remember the feeling, after finishing University. People were congratulating me, but I wasn't in that kinda mood - because I worried about what happens next. There's all those years of school, then a few at University, then after that, the uncertainty of life really kicks in - because you no longer have that stable, well-known structure. There is no next year to advance to; no courses to progress to; no set road where you know what happens next.

But, that's a part of life - uncertainty. Its just that in the 1st 21 or 22 years of life, its all laid out for you, and only once you finish University are you faced with the reality of this prospect.

Its an adjustment we have to make - a mindset change; which is an extreme change, because all your life you have that certainty, and then its suddenly gone, and you don't know what the future holds for you.

Its exciting, though, because you can open your mind to the possibilities: you have the tools, the education, and now you can apply yourself in something that will be of benefit to the world.

You're right that education must advance us towards a higher purpose. To learn just so you can be considered an expert, to feed your ego, is selfish and to a person's detriment - because it feeds an illusion that humans can actually master the world, or a specific field - when the truth is all we can ever aspire to in terms of that knowledge, is just a drop in a vast ocean of knowledge that humans will never be able to 'conquer'.

Anyway, don't pressure yourself with the burden of "I have to be in control now". Just do what feels right to you, and as you say, do your best and then put your trust in God.

Nauman said...

It's amazing how fast time flies and the things we learn from our experiences relating to school. I know that lately I've been reflecting quite a bit on how well I used that time and whether or not I'm building my future in the way I think I'm capable of.

Now it's time to turn potential into kinetic...

Elizabeth said...

All the best to you--I'm looking forward to hearing about where life takes you now.

sara said...

Oh Asmaa, y'know what is weird? That first paragraph were exactly my sentiments as well - and we were in the same class too (and had sisters in the same class)!

I know what you're feeling and I can't really say anything very assuring since I'm not quite in your position yet (and have no wisdom to share). But there is something that brings me comfort ... that you and I are neighbours 'til the very end and I hope that means as much to you as it does to me.

Asmaa said...

Dreamlife, my sentiments exactly. It is a mindset change. Here I was thinking I was all independent and mature. But then I'm actually pushed into the world and find that I'd really like to retreat into a small corner. Hopefully the excitement will kick in one of these days :)

Nauman, how do you turn potential into kinetic exactly? :|

Elizabeth, so am I. So am I.

Sara, yeah man, we're always neighbours in spirit. I was just struck by the weirdest memory: us getting freezies from beckers and yours melting before you could get it open. Hehehe.

Peggy said...

Hello Asmaa and all: I found your blog last night when I googled my own name, then the name I used when I was married to my first husband. I found your 2005 late night entry in which you quoted my poem, The Medley--written in 1975-6-7, over the last years of a short and turbulent marriage, entered into when I was way too young to handle the complexities wisely. It was so surprising to find that someone had actually studied that poem in highschool, and was quoting it 30 years later, during one sleepless night. What a gift to have found this little blog. Which highschool did you go to? What teacher actually put the little blue chapbook on the course?How did he/she get enough copies for the class to use, if, indeed copies were used? This is all a curious and delightful mystery. Your musings of May 4 on "where now" after, and with, your education are lovely--lovely, in my eyes, that you are seeking a place and a way to be in the world meaningfully. How you "be" wherever you are, doing whatever you are doing, can add to the world's store of meaning and humanity. And I know how you can long to find that thing to do that uses the best of your gifts and answers your need to play a worthwhile role in this great wonderful terrible pageant of humankind. When we can manage to make the questions of money and security secondary and the quest for meaning and contribution primary, I think our lives can unfold in surprising ways. It helps to seek the places to give if you want to discover the gift you are. Peggy

hajera said...

I think you'll make a fine driver.

p.s. ♥

Asmaa said...

Peggy, I'm honoured to have a writer like you on my blog :) I actually read the poem in my second year of university in a poetry course. It's in an anthology called "New Life in Dark Seas: Brick Books 25" edited by Stan Dragland. I actually picked that poem to do a presentation on because it was one of the few I could actually relate to in the collection.

And thank you for your warm advice, I appreciate it :)

Hajera, thanks. Speaking of driving, maybe I should start with my G1 ♥

Anis Malik said...

Congratulations on completing your undergrad degree...
May Allah SWT make it beneficial for you in this dunya and the akhirah...

'liya said...

Congrats on finishing!! & good luck with the job search - what are you planning to go into? Learning to drive sounds like a very good start :D

P.S cubbyholes are very cool and so is the whole poet Peggy finding your blog - wow!

Asmaa said...

Anis, Ameen and thank you :)

Liya, thanks. And I agree, cubbyholes are happening!