DAY 16. COVID-19 LOCKDOWN.
WE ARE ALL HEROES! ARE WE NOT?
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28
“We are all heroes in our own stories…” was the discussion of a talk I listened to this morning and it put me in such reflection and strangely with my favourite Shakespearean play, Macbeth. Macbeth had this vivid imagination which spurred his vaulting ambition, but like his wife said he was too full of human kindness and his face like a book where man may read strange things he had to show one side to the world and hide his true intention. This is how Lady Macbeth sums it: “Look like th’innocent flower, But be the serpent under’t.” There is a villain in all of us, there is an angel in all of us and…and.. but, the one we feed grows in strength and that’s what dreams are made of.
Our ego is so charming yet, overriding but brimming with confidence, it talks in measured intonations to lure you into actions beyond your imagination. Each day we write up our own stories in our head and in it we are never wrong as we are script writer, director and protagonist too. Furthermore, our brain conjures up images and action drama based on what we fed it with over time and there we are, fighting the world with superpowers and always the best in the start and at the end. Strange but true, you will replay a story if you did not like the way you ended it. This very complex super speed working of the brain is so exciting that we can change the story immediately from place of action to the language you want to speak. These stories become the biggest escapism for us when we are caught in an imbalance in our lives.
Macbeth for example, knew life and was clear in saying, ‘To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,..’ because he is burdened by the passage of time without his wife who died and feels his life meaningless because there is no one to share his successes with. His soliloquy illustrates his folly, his status as a tragic hero, his uncertainty of the future which seems to envelop him in misery and his facade of greatness is now torn. We are drawn to hate him or feel pity for his tragedy of the self to the extent that we read his soliloquies deeply to find his redemption. That catharsis makes us feel that we are not so bad because we have not murdered, killed families, deceived a king and killed him, delved into the under world of witchcraft and killed our close associates or friends. In this frame of mind, the brain works overtime and makes you feel you are ok and better than millions of people.
So, tomorrow and tomorrow, we will continue to cast ourselves as heroes in our stories and therefore, we will never know our folly, weakness, deceit and true nature of generosity and goodness. Life for us is like a walking shadow and we are the poor player that struts and frets his hour on stage. Because we script our own stories about everything without giving space for interpretation, it becomes a tale of sound and fury told by an idiot signifying nothing. We have to unplug ourselves from this mirage and begin to test our stories on the universal stage. The stage where there are millions of actors but, whose stories have been written by thousands of others because their lives were full of meaning signifying greatness. In short, who will write a story about you? If there is someone, what will they write? Surely your stories were in your head and you were hero the world never knew.
The life of Nabi Muhammad (s) is a story of truth written by those that disliked him and Islam. Alphonse de Lamartine, a staunch critic of Islam, had this to say about Nabi Muhammad (s):
If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astonishing results are the three criteria of a human genius, who could dare compare any great man in history with Muhammad? The most famous men created arms, laws, and empires only. They founded, if anything at all, no more than material powers which often crumbled away before their eyes. This man moved not only armies, legislations, empires, peoples, dynasties, but millions of men in one-third of the then inhabited world; and more than that, he moved the altars, the gods, the religions, the ideas, the beliefs and the souls. Philosopher, Orator, Apostle, Legislator, Conqueror of Ideas, Restorer of Rational beliefs… The founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire — that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?
Heroes are made on the world stage of trails, tribulations, wars, striving for justice and amongst others but, the way your enemy will write about you, will mark your spot as a hero or a tragic hero. Heroes surface like a seed that has germinated after been underground for a long time and when they appear, they have the mettle to withstand challenges but, are humble. It is like their lives ‘underground’ has been full of introspection where they studied the villain in themselves. The ultimate hero, Nabi Muhammad (s), tied everything to the reality of Allah, the High, the Great that he internalised. In this way, his (s) brains tied cause and effect to Allah, the High, the Great, such that he did not even speak of his own desire rather, he spoke with the inspiration of Allah, the all Knowing, the all Hearing.
The litmus test is to write your life story. Immediately, your brains works out a script where the bad is erased but, a hero’s life story has everything. This is likened to the Prigogine effect where the brain will bring equilibrium to sudden apparent chaotic state. The chaos in your brain is how will the world look at me with these evil things for example and; the move to erase it brings that equilibrium. Inner peace therefore, is to acknowledge the folly, the villain perhaps, the clown, the idiot perhaps, the saint and the sinner in you with the hope that Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful will forgive and guide me. This generates a positive self image and a more discerning brain that will write a true story. It is the connection with Allah, the Powerful, that you need to connect your stories because HE is the best Editor.
To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools.The way to dusty death…becomes real now because we know that we are not racing to a dusty death with purpose. In fact all our yesterdays are full of true stories of our actions that have lighted the lives of millions and, inshallah, until the last syllable of recorded time, accepted rewards are penned for you by Allah, the Master of the Day of Judgement.
When our children and people see us living our stories it must be that they see us having, as I learnt this morning, the following :
Taqwa – knowing Allah.
Ta’wakul – trusting Allah.
Taubah – seeking forgiveness and repentance
Ta’ah – obedience
And with that they would see us practicing:
Sabr – patience
Salah – prayer
Saqa’qah – charity
Shukr – gratitude
Furthermore when they observe our habits they will find:
Ihsan – doing everything with excellence &
Dua – constant prayer.
Our stories now will be a portrayal of our real self that is need of rectification but, we open it up Allah so that when To-morrow, and to-morrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; we are not lighted fools but, warriors of the light; striving for peace and justice until the last syllable of recorded time. ‘Light upon light’ is our feeling on the way to meet with Allah. Our strut on life’s stage – full of taqwa, ta’wakul, taubah and ta’ah told by humble servant signifying greatness in the court of Allah, the Fashioner, the Author of Al-Quran.