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Hafsa Siddique -And miles to go before I sleep

Hafsa Siddique -And miles to go before I sleep

Setting the right priorities in life in so crucial, one needs to understand the value of this basic ingredient for pure contentment in life. The sooner one finds this key, the easier the burdens of our daily chores feel on our shoulders. Ever-rising inflation has already made our journey to gratification look so grim and the struggle only longer. It is so strange that despite thousands of years of discoveries and inventions and knowledge and information; comforts of modern day life no more provide us with the pleasures we seek.


Around 7 billion people in the world and each person with only God knowing how many dreams, wishes, prayers and plans. As much their dreams may vary in finer details, most people share common inclinations. More food, better shelter, trendier clothing, personal conveyance, timely marriage, children, salary and vacations make the basic framework to measure successes in life. As if someone has fed it into a system to keep on producing this cycle of life for the general public. Thus, what a common mind perceives as a joyous life might only be an artwork of the most uncreative mind. As dependable as a robot, as accurate as a computer and as predictable as a known story; pretty boring!


It is not wrong to fight for all these basics our times have to offer, but what feels wrong is a pointless life walking down the same old trodden path. How many of us ask ourselves what are we leaving behind if death befalls us this very instance? Probably many of us do that but we avoid the obvious answer. We avoid saying ‘nothing much’ because the system does not give us enough space to think on our own how else we could spend our lives. Is it prohibited or forbidden to think odd? No, but it is the way our thought process has been programmed by either the `rote learning metric school systems, or `A grade hunting till death’ way for imported O-level school students or the traditional madrassas that make up for the missing day-care centers for our poor. We are scared to think out of the box for fear of the unknown.    


Some of the obstacles we need to cross over includes horror of being criticized, fear of losing the musts in life and in fact raising the bar for ourselves. As Henry David Thoreau said `that man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.’ Stuck in the web of commercialism, the glitz and glamour of superficial wants, what we have left behind are the ideas that made those before us reach greater heights in life despite lesser eases of olden times. What they built hundreds of years ago still stands tall, what they wrote still makes sense and what they said still weighs heavy. On the other hand, today, only those who are able to break through the shell we survive in achieve extraordinary things. Today, only a trickle among 7 billion of us achieves what those amazing societies would create together as one people. With less competition and more values at hand, quality time was their golden bird. Perhaps, back then systems needed thinkers for there were necessities and thus inventions. Today, there are facilities and systems only need customers and fewer thinkers. No wonder the need of speed is there to fulfil the indistinguishable needs and wants of modern times. Who has time for greater goals!    


Much could be improved if we could get rid of a false notion that there is contentment at the end of life. Although this mirage gets us going so that we keep the pulley of time go round and round but it takes us nowhere. Rather than seeking contentment in simple little things every single day, with family and friends, or neighbours and daily chores, or prayers and books; and spending the lion’s share on one big dream, one great task or a mission in life can be more fruitful. Life is to be lived while you have it. Setting priorities straight helps, simplicity and originality in style helps. Running after a lifestyle adopted by others is a lost race.

Our women of small and big cities could be most productive if they spend some quality time at home. Women in villages are mostly working but sadly the system deprives them of education just as for men there. But city women can do much more. They could run community centres, with nurseries, gyms and tuition centres, libraries and cafes where they could write books or conduct workshops to share their knowledge and experiences with younger neighbours. From handicrafts to cooking competitions, exhibitions, talent shows to simple computer courses to earn online, there is so much that can be done. Regrettably, many women waste their precious time watching futile morning shows on the idiot box for hours and hours, followed by repeat telecast of sitcoms in the afternoons and new episodes of dramatic absurdity in the evenings. The role of women to build a strong society is being undermined these days by our women themselves. Countries and places that are still making their mark on the world have an active and positive participation of their women. In our own country Pakistan, we have many examples of bright women, working outside simple or home-makers, with undeniable services rendered for the betterment of the society. But their roles need much coverage and discussion to influence more women. Sadly, there seems to be no such media or governmental policy supporting that.  


No soul is useless, no life is priceless and no time will go unchecked. The question is not about achieving self-actualization at the end of the journey. Rather, there is a mystery that needs our attention; a hunt for the potion of life. Once acquired, the more you spend it here, the more it multiplies for you in the hereafter.

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